GDB 20.0: What a difference one win can make

Joker

(photoshop: @NewfieMikey)

The Oilers stopped the hemorrhaging with a 5-2 victory in Dallas. They received some puck luck, created some chances and didn’t commit the egregious error which has cost them games recently.

Tonight they wrap up their toughest ten-game stretch of the season against the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks, and a win will make their first quarter a big success.

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The Oilers haven’t won eleven of their first 20 games since November of 2006, but a win tonight sure changes the outlook of where they sit at the quarter mark of the season.

Win and they are on pace for 92 points in 80 games.

Lose in regulation and they are on pace for 84 points.

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Twenty-three points after 20 games would have to be considered a success, regardless of their slump prior to Saturday’s win. I don’t think anyone expected the Oilers to be a dominant team this season, but an 11-8-1 record after 20 games gives us a better illustration of what to expect over the final 62 games. A loss won’t derail their season, but it illustrates how much of a difference one more win can make over a 20-game period.

A win over Chicago would also help their average home record. The biggest improvement for the Oilers has been their ability to compete on the road. The Oilers are 6-4-1 on the road. Only Tampa Bay and Boston have more road wins and points. Meanwhile, only the Flames (3-7) and Buffalo (2-4-2) have fewer home wins than the Oilers’ four.

The Oilers started the season 4-1 at home, but they’ve lost three straight, scoring a total of three goals. They’ve shown considerable improvement on the road it is time they start making their new arena a difficult place to play for opposing teams.

LINEUP

Oilers

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Rarely do you change a winning lineup. No one played poorly. Zack Kassian was playing well before he took a four-minute minor, the second one for chirping the referee. He didn’t see the ice afterwards, but similar to when Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot missed icetime due to a bad performance or selfish decision earlier this season, they were in the lineup the next game. Todd McLellan hasn’t been afraid to send a message to players when they make a dumb play, but he also doesn’t carry the punishment over to the next game.

Players respect it when a coach doesn’t hold a grudge. 

Hawks

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Corey Crawford gets the start after a night off in Vancouver on Saturday.

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Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • Through 64 games Connor McDavid has 70 points. He has seven three-point games and one five-point night. In his first 64 games Sidney Crosby had 74 points and six three-point games and one four-point night. There were more goals scored league-wide in Crosby’s rookie season, and McDavid is playing his second year, so there are some differences, but there is no denying McDavid looks to be the next dominant player in the NHL.

    Crosby had 28 points in his final 17 games to finish the season, and if McDavid can come close to that over the next 17 games the Oilers should be in the playoff mix when 2017 begins.

  • The Hawks have allowed a league-high 18 PP goals (tied with CGY) and they have the worst PK in the NHL, an ugly 69.5%. However, those numbers are not reflective of their PK lately. They allowed 15 PP goals in their first eight games, but they’ve allowed only three goals in their last eleven games, killing off 36 of 39 power plays.
  • How about the Columbus Blue Jackets? They are 10-4-2 and only have two regulation losses in their last 14 games. They have defeated Dallas, Washington and Anaheim twice, and Chicago, Montreal St.Louis and the New York Rangers once. They are beating the top teams. They are the biggest surprise early this season.
  • With veterans Mark Letestu, Eric Gryba and Benoit Pouliot in the pressbox it doesn’t look like Edmonton will be in need to make a call to the AHL anytime soon. Taylor Beck leads the Condors in scoring with 5-11-16 in 11 games. Jujhar Khaira was off to a great start, seven points in six games, but an injury has kept him out of five games.

    The most interesting battle has been in goal. Laurent Brossoit has started seven games and has a .915sv% and 2.77 GAA. Nick Ellis has started six games and has a .931sv% and 2.38 GAA. Ellis is really pushing Brossoit for icetime.

  • We’ll be having another NationGear pop-up shop at Vacancy Hall (Downstairs at the Mercer building – 10359 104th Street) from 4-6pm. Swing by and upgrade your wardrobe accordingly. 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Second City Hockey

The Oilers (10-8-1) came out flying this season going 7-1 in their first eight games, but have been struggling lately, losing five of their last six. Edmonton now sits in second in the Pacific Division, tied in points at 21 with the Ducks and Kings.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid has had an exceptional second season so far, sitting tied atop the leader board in points with 22 (eight goals and 14 assists). The Hawks missed out on facing McDavid last season because all three meetings happened when he was recovering from a broken clavicle. Chicago capitalized with McDavid out and swept the season series, scoring four goals in each contest behind Corey Crawford in net. Patrick Kane tallied two goals and five assists in the series while Artemi Panarin had four goals and four assists against the Oilers last season.

TONIGHT…

GDB

(photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers had played well and lost near the end of their losing streak before getting some bounces in Dallas. The Hawks have needed third period comebacks over Calgary and Vancouver in their previous two games. Instead of wasting a good opportunity, the Oilers finally defeat a team playing their third game in four nights. Oilers win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: On at least two occasions, Patrick Kane puts on a ridiculous display of stickhanding and controlling the puck in offensive zone. He’ll have the Oilers on their heels hoping not to get embarrassed. His puckhandling skills are top-shelf.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Puljujarvi scores his first goal since opening night.

Recently by Jason Gregor:   


    • OilersGM

      Get Drew outta town and back to Saskatchewan along with Kevin Quinn and replace them with Jack Michaels and Louie DeBrusk. Michaels Is so much more of a exciting game caller.

  • Thumby

    Sure like the look of our lines if JP can play his best with CMD and Looch. Eberle and Nuge with Maroon iis a nice mix of talent and size. That 3rd line is a crazy mix of size speed and talent. Slep Drai Kass should be a cycling machine. Our 4th line is damn fine too! Drake Hendo and Pit should be able to feast on the 3rd pairing D of Chicago. Get them 10 minutes of ice!

    Forget about a 3 headed monster, this is a 4 headed Hyrdra if they can gel!

    Go Oil! I needs me some wins!!!!

  • IRONman

    If you win the Cup, is paying Burns 6 million a year worth it?

    For me yes. Winning is the whole point

    Or would you rather be out of the playoffs for 10 more years and be happy no play makes 6 ‘million a year??

  • Mitch92

    If Jesse and Connor can continue where they left off last game and the rest of the gang chips in a couple while playing some responsible defensive hockey the Oilers might have a chance of upsetting the Hawks who might be expecting an easy night. From what I have seen the Oilers don’t win many games where they score less than four goals so lets light em up and stay on top!

  • Thumby

    And Eberle gets another prime opportunity handed and he squanders it again. Dude, go back to your old stick shape,size and lie… This new version is going to kill your career.

  • I am Batman

    Three thoughts:

    1. The Hawks can be beaten, but the Oilers need to limit their momentum, once things start working for them they get in an unbelievable pace and positive groove. Both Vancouver and Calgary had them against the ropes but they managed to string together a few minutes of good hockey and that is all it took.

    2. Besides the usual weapons, they have quite a few youngsters coming up in their pipeline (sigh). This needs to be an all team effort or we are going to get 8 behind our net.

    3. A bit harsh on Poo to sit him again, he has been playing in the Nuge line, which, as a poster pointed out (correctly) has been a “shut down” line, I am not saying he has been awesome, but this line up could use some experience. Slepyshev, is not experienced.

  • camdog

    I’m not a fan of Eberle, but neither am I against him, he’s a good hockey player. Many different coaching staffs and management regimes have tried to elevate him higher than what he actually is. He didn’t hold out for that contract and he didn’t put that A on his jersey. He is what he is – a skilled winger, who has defensive deficiencies in his game. You really have to question the current Oiler staff for continuing to try and bill him higher than he is, he’s not the type of guy most franchises put a letter on.

    Eberle’s been a good player when playing with RnH, they have always worked well together, they balance each other out. Hopefully those 2 get their confidence back, they are both better than they have showed. I like this line up tonight, second line well score tonight they are due.

  • Klef abs

    Hawks are still a quality team. Will be a tough one tonight. I think your prediction of Kane making the D look bad at least once is an easy one to see. It’ll happen more than once. Larsson has trouble with fast shifty players.

  • GregJP

    Am I the only one who thinks that Brenden Ullrich is absolutely terrible and has no business being on the radio in a major market like Edmonton?

    I think his knowledge is OK, but he has difficulty stringing two coherent sentences together and sounds like someone doing the weather report from Estevan or Drumheller.

    I know that he’s still young, but he really hasn’t made much progress since he started. I’m not a big Dan Tencer fan, but he was ten times the broadcaster at the same age. Why do they keep this guy around? Is Corus really that cheap that they can’t pay a bit more and find somebody that has some actual talent?

    • Derian Hatcher

      I agree he is not as polished as some in broadcasting. But he is doing his best.

      At least he does not invite a guest on his show to share hockey knowledge and / or opinion, then constantly interrupt the guest to show what great hockey knowledge he, himself, has. (Stauffer) That is way more frustrating to me.

    • Shawn Cronin

      Keep in mind, he is actually a producer and just filling in for the most homer radio personality on the planet, what I wonder about CHED is why they still find a reason to keep Bryan Hall on the air for 12 hours a day.

      • GregJP

        He is the producer in much the same way that Reid Wilkins used to be the producer. It’s usually a stepping stone to more on air work or getting your own show.

        The difference is that Wilkins is actually good on the air, while Ullrich is laughably terrible. And I haven’t even mentioned the grammar mistakes that he constantly makes.

        While I’m venting….

        Why can’t Stauffer pronounce Spezza the way the rest of the league does?
        Why can’t Rob Brown pronounce the word “especially” correctly?
        Why do people never using adverbs correctly? Like saying “drive safe” instead of “drive safely”

        Thanks. I feel better now. LOL