GDB 25.0: Avoid self destructing

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Connor McDavid Newfied Mikey

(photoshop: @NewfieMikey)

We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot delivery in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.

The Oilers toughest opponent lately has been themselves. In their last three losses they controlled much of the play, rarely had extended defensive zone time, yet they lost all three games.

They out shot the opposition 106-87.
They had 214 shot attempts while only allowing 154.

The problem was, they made glaring defensive errors which led to goals, and didn’t make enough wise shooting decisions in the offensive zone.

They need to play smarter tonight in Winnipeg.

The Oilers aren’t getting overwhelmed like past seasons, but their inability to avoid the major defensive mistake is crippling them right now. Call it a winning attitude or whatever, but this group, including the many new players, need to find it. It comes from within. They need to start holding each other accountable.

Mistakes will happen. That is part of hockey, but if this team wants to win they must cut down the 10-bell mistakes. These defensive miscues and reads are mental mistakes, not physical, and because it isn’t just one or two players committing the same error over and over again, the problem won’t be solved by benching one or two players. The group needs to be more committed.

At the other end of the ice, the Oilers fired 106 shots on goal the past three games, but they’ve had 62 blocked and 46 miss the net. They had 108 attempts not reach the goalie. Unacceptable.

The Coyotes and Leafs are not elite shot-blocking teams. The Leafs have one player in the top-50 in blocked shots, while the Coyotes have none in the top-70. The Oilers were forcing pucks through and not making smart decisions. They need to stop accepting the easy play, and show more determination to take the puck to the net, or ensure their shot gets past the first defender.

The Oilers had more talent than Arizona and Toronto, but they didn’t play with enough determination and smarts to win. They must be equal in those two areas with the Jets tonight if they have any hope of ending their three-game winless streak.

LINEUP

Oilers

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The Oilers had an optional skate this morning, but it looks like Hendricks and Puljujarvi will be coming out. Maroon/Letestu/Kassian will be the fourth line, while Pitlick/Caggiula/Slepyshev will be the third line.

Draisaitl will start the game with McDavid and McLellan is looking to load up his first line. Talbot will start his 23rd of 25 games for the Oilers, and he’ll likely get Sunday off against the Wild.

Jets

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Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • It looks like the Oilers will change their PP units. They’ve moved Eberle to the second unit, and Letestu, Slepyshev and Pitlick might all get a look on the first unit. I have no issue moving Eberle to the second unit — you need two to win — and considering McDavid draws the most penalties on the team, the second unit could start many powerplays. The issue is how they are using Eberle. Stop asking him to be something he isn’t. He will not be a dominant outside shooter. He never has been. Put him where he is successful, closer to the net. I’d play him in the middle, same spot as Draisailt on the first unit. Eberle is smart, a good passer and good shooter from in close. He has never been an outside shooter, yet he’s been one of the most consistent goal scorers the past five years. Why move him further from the net? He won’t have as much success, and the Oilers don’t have a better options in close. If moving Eberle to the second unit means he will play closer to the net, great, if they just move him to the second unit and have him remain an outside shooter, then they are putting him in a position to fail.
  • I think many of us have to re-adjust expectations on what is a consistent goal scorer. I still hear many toss out 30-goal scorer. The sad reality is there are very few consistent 30-goal scorers in the game nowadays. Here is a list of the top goals scorers from the past five seasons. Only seven of them have more than 150 goals, which averages 30 goals per season. It does include the 48-game lockout, so if I prorate the goals from that season, then Jamie Benn, Patrick Kane, James Neal, Phil Kessel and Jonathan Toews would make it eleven players who averaged 30 goals per season.

    If you do the same prorating numbers (which I’m not a huge fan of because it is a projection, not exact, and injuries and slumps can alter things), the the league has 30 players who average 25-goals consistently over a five-year span.

    McDavid looks like he’ll be one who can average 30 per season (he is on pace for 38), but as goals per game continue to dip, it looks like 40 goals will become the new 50 (except for Ovechkin, who is unreal), and our goal expectations of players should drop.

  • The Oilers still lead the league in road points, 16, and are tied with the most road wins, seven.
  • Their PP is 8 of 37 on the road, 21.6%. and tied for seventh best in the NHL. Their PP is only 10.5% at home. Their PK has been basically the same on the road and at home. It is 89.5% on the road (34 of 38) and 87.1% (27 of 31) at home.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From JetsNation.ca

McDavid is back! McDavid is back! 

Duck and cover, the NHL’s leading scorer is back in town. The Jets will face-off against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers tonight at the MTS Centre. This marks the first meeting between the two teams since the Oilers domination of the Jets at this years Heritage Classic.

MONTH OF GIVING

Our 6th annual Month of Giving begins today. Every weekday from today through to Friday, December 22nd, we will be auctioning off a package on my TSN 1260 radio show with all the proceeds going to various charities including Santas Anonymous, Operation Friendship Senior Society, The Christmas Bureau, JCI Holiday Hamper Program and a few others.

We will have a new package every day, and packages will include tickets to sporting events, signed jerseys, golf packages, jewelry, training sessions for you or your kids, dinners with Oilers and Eskimos and much more.

Package #1….

Image result for auto city Edmonton logo

Courtesy of Auto City Edmonton

  • 12 tickets in their Suite for the Oil Kings game on December 28th.
  • Two parking passes
  • $300 GC to use in suite for food and beverages

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out The Christmas Bureau.

TONIGHT…

GDB

(photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers play well, but pick up Bettman loser point in a 4-3 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers PP scores a goal on the road and the human freight train, Dustin Byfuglien, crushes one of the Oilers with a huge, clean hit.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid scores his first PP goal of the season which prompts Wanye Gretz to send out a squeeeee tweet for the first time this season, and there is much rejoicing within Oilersnation.

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