GDB 79.0: HOME ICE ADVANTAGE – Looking to improve

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The Oilers conclude their busiest stretch of the season tonight versus the Anaheim Ducks. This is their 15th game in 28 days, and they’ve managed to go 7-7-0 so far. They are 7-3 since March 1st when Cam Talbot starts, and he’ll play tonight.

Prior to March the Oilers were 23-34-7 (prorated over full season equals 68 points), and despite significant injuries to their blueline this month, they’ve still managed to improve their point totals. Todd McLellan challenged his team, and so far they have responded.

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They still have a lot to improve before they are a playoff contending team, but instead of limping to the finish line like they have the past eight seasons, at least they are competitive down the stretch this year.

The best case scenario for the Oilers is finishing 25th, and the worst case is they will finish 30th for the third time in the seven years.

Despite a respectable finish in their final 18 games, the Oilers will once again be closer to the basement of the NHL than to the playoff cut line. I’ve seen improvement, but ultimately not enough and moral victories and small improvements simply aren’t good enough.

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Buffalo has 72 points and seven games remaining — the Oilers won’t be catching them.

Fifteen games in 28 days is a lot of hockey, and facing a Ducks team that is three points out of first place in the Pacific and four points ahead of third place San Jose is not an easy task, but the Oilers only play three games in the final 13 days of the season, so they will have ample time to rest up. Tonight will be a test of their desire and mental toughness and McLellan will be watching to see who shows up and who doesn’t.


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Oilers lineup courtesy of

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Ducks lineup courtesy of


  • Nail Yakupov asking for a trade isn’t a surprise. I can see why he’d be frustrated. Right around the trade deadline a source told me Yakupov and his camp had asked for a trade, but I could never get a solid confirmation so I didn’t write it. My source mentioned at the time the Ducks were close (not guaranteed but close) on a deal with Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot prior to the trade deadline, but the injury to Pouliot put an end to those discussions.

    Teams will have interest in Yakupov. The return will be more than what some expect, but it also won’t be as much as you’d hope for a player only four years removed from being the first overall pick in the draft. Considering Yakupov’s camp was allowed to talk to other teams, Yakupov will know who had interest, and I’m guessing he will want to make a solid impression for the Ducks tonight.

    Today Yakupov said, “The agent and the team had a discussion about it, but I don’t know any details. That’s it. I’m still here.” Trust me, he knows every detail. He knows the Ducks had interest and he’ll know which other teams were/are interested. His agent, Igor Larionov, wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t tell his client what was up. Larionov will join me at 2:05 MST today to discuss Yakupov.

  • Patrick Maroon has five goals in 12 games with the Oilers, while Yakupov has six goals in 56 games. I don’t see where Yakupov fits moving forward. Having three different head coaches in four years is not ideal for a young player, and I believe both the organization and Yakupov have an equal share in his lack of production to this point. Both sides can look within and they should recognize what needs to change moving forward. The Oilers won’t have a coaching carousel under Peter Chiarelli, and when Yakupov goes to a new team next year he will need to realize he needs to play smarter. I like Yakupov’s attitude and tenacity, and if he decides to dedicate himself to playing smarter and within a system he will be a solid NHL player.
  • The Oilers went 2-4 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in the lineup this month. If they keep all three they are better off having Draisaitl or RNH play the wing in the top-six than spread them out over three lines. Teams barely have two scoring lines in today’s NHL — expecting three seems like a losing proposition.
  • The Oilers haven’t won 19 games at home since 2006/2007 when they went 19-19-3. They last won 20 games at home in 2005/2006 when they finished 20-15-6. They are currently 18-18-2 with three home games remaining.



GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 2-4 at home in March, but they stun the Ducks with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid has scored a goal on every day of the week this year except Monday. He has one on Wednesdays and Sundays, two on Fridays, three on Saturdays and four on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is his final Monday game of the season so he scores a goal.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Korpikoski has seven career goals versus the Ducks, tied for the most against any team (Dallas is the other). He tallies his eighth career goal versus Anaheim tonight.


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Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • Obvious Game Day prediction missed opportunity: Maroon has five goals in 12 games, he plays against his former team tonight that treated him like how the Oilers treat Nail Yakupov. Maroon will relish the chance to show what a mistake the Ducks made and score twice off feeds from McDavid.

    • pkam

      My prediction, Maroon gets a goal from a feed from McDavid, he returns the favor and gets the assist on McDavid’s first Monday goal. He gets into a fight after banging Getzlaf heavily into the board and gets a Gordie Howe hat trick.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    That’s interesting about the Yakupov + Pouliot deal to Anaheim that fell through. That’s the first time I’ve heard it mentioned. Wonder what the return would have been, Vatanen + Maroon?

  • West

    That was the worst offside call ever. That puck was a foot from even getting to the blue line. Once again the linesmen are just guessing at the offsides. Just pathetic.

    • West

      It seems like every game there are at least 2 times where the Oilers are called offside, but if you go back at look at it in slow motion, they are onside. This may be the worst ever.

  • Chopsucky

    “McDavid has scored a goal on every day of the week this year except Monday. He has one on Wednesdays and Sundays, two on Fridays, three on Saturdays and four on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is his final Monday game of the season so he scores a goal.”

    HA….what a great stat!!!!!

  • GK1980

    Wow. If this game actually mattered and I cared I would be pretty upset with the officiating. Brutal calls all night and Kesler seems to be able to trip and interfere whenever he wants. What a loser.

    • Butters

      He liked McDavid last draft, I bet he likes Matthews this year.

      He seems to prefer forwards and appears to follow the Central Scouting lists pretty closely, at least in the first round. Hence his RNH, Yak, Hall, McDavid picks. He might have went a tiny smidge off the board picking Leon ahead of Sam Bennet. Why he did that? We may never know.


      Wait he picked Nurse ahead of that big Russian kid. Man, Katz’s kid is all over the place when he drafts.

  • Butters

    I might be in the minority here, but I cheer for the Oilers and I don’t hate any of the players.

    I hope Yakupov does get traded. That way he won’t have to hear the talking heads in this town rationalize giving up on a 22 year old. These same talking heads who can’t pick a Stanley Cup winner, never mind build one.

    Prepare the next whipping boy Oil Country…if you haven’t already. I suspect Eberle and Hall are on deck.

    • Oil City Roller

      I don’t hate Yak either but he and Igor have made some pretty bush league moves over the course of his career. I’ve been listening to Igor’s interviews today and he refuses to say that Yak has had anything to do with position he finds himself. On Oilers Now he compared Yak to Ovie and said any team would be happy to have him! These guys are delusional and that is why I am tired of Yak. If he thinks his Junior B league moves and positioning are going to fly somewhere else then have at it.

      • Butters

        Is there any benefit to the Oilers, or yak, if the agent talks him down? Although pumping him up to ovi levels makes it look like dealin b with the yak camp might be a headache. That doesn’t sound too helpfull either.

  • theoil

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if they traded him to Anaheim for next year and Boudreau got fired early and they brought up Eakins as interim? I think I’d laugh my head off

  • Jordan88

    Really disgusts me listening to Drew Remenda.

    Nail goes out and plays his heart out and doesn’t bury a shot. Bends over in disgust with himself.

    Drew makes a comment about body language.

    Every player who misses a grade A chance does that.

    Talk about kicking a guy when he is down.

    At 22 if I was in the headlines, not knowing where my future is, having an agent who is supposed to represent me airing my dirty laundry in the open. Sorry if I show a little emotion.

    Everyone who talks about what this team needs, they need a better class of commentator or a commentator with some class.