GDB 40.0: Bounce back in Boston

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Game Day

(photoshop: @isuckatpicking)

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One of the biggest improvements the Oilers have made this season is their ability to be competitive after a poor outing. There hasn’t been many games this season where the Oilers were completely outclassed, but Tuesday in Columbus the Oilers were overwhelmed.

They will look to rebound tonight in Boston, against a good, but not great, Bruins team.

“It was a playoff-type environment and we had some people out there who were invisible,” said Todd McLellan after Tuesday’s loss in Columbus. The Blue Jackets are a better team right now. They have won 16 in a row and are in first place in the NHL. A loss was expected, but they got outworked and I’m certain that is what annoyed McLellan the most.

That can’t happen again tonight.

The Bruins and Oilers are evenly matched.

The Oilers produce more offence, 2.80 goals/game to Boston’s 2.32, while the Bruins allow fewer goals, 2.40 to the Oilers 2.59.

Edmonton has a better PP, 21.1%, to Boston’s 14%, while the Bruins’ PK 87.6%, is higher than the Oilers 81.5%.

The Oilers have 45 points in 39 games and the Bruins have 44 in 40 games. Both are currently in a playoff spot.

LINEUP

Oilers

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Todd McLellan switched his lines looking to jump start the offence. The Oilers have only scored 22 goals in their past ten games, while allowing 22, but they’ve managed a 5-2-3 record.

Connor McDavid only has five points in ten games, which is good production for the majority of the league, but you know he wants to produce more. He has to find his groove again. The Oilers’ PP has seven goals in the past ten games, and he’s only had points on two of them. That is a great sign for the team, but if the PP keeps producing it is highly doubtful he won’t be involved in more goals.

The Oilers EV scoring has slowed down a lot, and McLellan is hoping the new combinations can ignite some more production.

The Oilers averaged 2.24 EV goals per game in their first 29 games, but have dipped down to 1.5 EVG/game during the past ten games.

Their forwards have only scored 12 EV goals in the past ten games, and Tyler Pitlick scored two of them. He’s out for the season with a torn ACL.

Pitlick is tied with Patrick Maroon, Mark Letestu and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for most EV goals during this 10-game stretch.

McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Matt Hendricks and Drake Caggiula have singles.

Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot and Zack Kassian have none. Jesse Puljujarvi hasn’t played enough to be asking for more.

McDavid, Draisaitl, Eberle, Lucic and Pouliot need to produce more at EV, but especially the latter three.

Eberle can’t finish right now, although he’s still producing some points. Him and Pouliot on the same line will either be an offensive blackhole, or they will jumpstart each other. Maybe McLellan is thinking mathematics. Multiplying two negatives and it becomes a positive. Ohhhh….

Bruins

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Oilers fans are upset about Eberle, who has 26 points, but Bruins fans are even more perplexed by Patrice Bergeron’s lack of production. He only has seven goals and 12 points. He had 68 points last year. Bergeron simply can’t finish. He leads the Bruins in shots with 130, but he can’t score, and he hasn’t been able to set up many plays. His lack of offence has him a minus player, -1, for the first time in his career since 2006/2007. He is still very good defensively, but when you aren’t producing at EV strength (he has eight EV points), it is hard to be a plus player.

QUICK HITS

  • The strange part about Bergeron’s struggles is he’s played the majority of his time with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Marchand leads the Bruins with 31 points, while Pastrnak leads them in goals with 19. Bergeron has played 476 EV minutes, and only 33 of them have been without Marchand.
  • Bergeron is another example of how playing with the team’s leading scorer doesn’t guarantee offensive success. His offensive struggles are similar to Eberle’s, but he’s produced much less. It is very odd for Bergeron considering his linemates and the amount of shots he’s generated.
  • I like a little animosity among players. Evander Kane recently called out Bruins defenceman Kevan Miller on twitter.

        My only issue is the Sabres don’t play the Bruins again this season. Will we see some fireworks 
        between them next year?

  • Anton Lander returns to the lineup after a stint in the AHL. Lander lit up the AHL scoring 10-11-21 in 13 games in Bakersfield. His footspeed seems to be the only thing holding him back from being an everyday NHLer. His AHL success illustrates how much of a jump it is between the AHL and the NHL.
  • On the season Jesse Puljujarvi is averaging over 11:30/game. Tyler Seguin averaged 12:12/game as a rookie when he scored 22 points. It did not stunt his development. However, he also didn’t have a five-week stretch like Puljujarvi is in right now. Puljujarvi has only played a total of 72:30 since November 29th. He’s dressed in eight games and is averaging 9:04 a game. 

    If he was playing every game and was close to 12 minutes a game, I wouldn’t have much of an issue about him being in Edmonton, even if he wasn’t producing. But the limited amount of icetime he’s had since November 29th makes it very hard to develop and maintain confidence. A few weeks ago both Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan said he is here for now and we’ll see. I got the sense from both men that Puljujarvi would get a stint in the AHL after Christmas. Tyler Pitlick then got injured, and it seems that has kept #98 here. 

    It is too dramatic to say with certainty this will severely stunt Puljujarvi’s long-term production. I doubt it will, but I don’t see it helping him much, nor do I see it helping the Oilers. He needs to play more regularly, or he needs a stint in the AHL. Playing 72 minutes over five weeks is not good for the player or the team.

  • Take a moment and help out a good young Edmonton race car driver Stefan Rzadzinski. He has a chance of a lifetime to compete in the Race of Champions vs. Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Vettel and many others. All you have to do is vote for him. I’ve watched Rzadzinski chase his dream for the past six seasons, racing in many different events. This would be a huge opportunity for him. Do him a solid and vote here. Good luck Stefan.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Stanley Cup of Chowder

Chiarelli, Lucic, Ference (injured), and Benning (2012 6th rd pick, 175 overall, not signed) were all tied to Boston in recent membery. Chiarelli snagged one of his draftees off free agency. They’ll probably all be in the building, but since Ference isn’t playing and you’re in the Garden, recycle your cups. Captain America won’t tolerate that.

TONIGHT..

GDB

(photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Boston is 9-9-0 at home and 5-6-0 versus the West. The Oilers rebound with a solid performance and win 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up a point. He has 21 career points on Thursdays, the most of any day of the week. **Obscure stat of the day.**

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sticking with obscure trend, Patrick Maroon has no goals and only one assist in his last 16 games versus Atlantic Division teams. He ends his goal drought and scores his 12th goal of the season matching his career high. 

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