GDB 61.0: Nice Kitty

Game Day

PowerByLiquorDepot

(Photoshop: @isuckatpicking)

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

After losing to Tampa Bay last night in a 4-1 turd bath, the Oilers won’t have much time to hang their heads as they must get right back to work against the red hot Florida Panthers. It’s another early start (5:30pm MST) so if you’re looking to play hooky from work then you’d best start working on that sore throat now.

Looking at the schedule, the Oilers have to find a way to right the ship in a hurry because there are no gimme games on this road trip. After playing Florida tonight, the Oil land in Washington, Nashville, and St. Louis before Garth Brooks finally leaves and they can return home to Rogers Place for the start of March. Point being that they need wins, but they’re going to have to be better than lucky if they’re going to make it happen.

One thing the Oilers are going to have to adjust to is the fact that the Panthers are among the league leaders in shots produced by their defencemen. Florida generally gets more offence generated from their back end than the Oilers do, and our boys in blue are going to have to make sure that their points are covered. That said, the Panthers are a team that’s built on shot metrics and Edmonton, Talbot particularly is going to have to be aware of pucks coming in from everywhere. To his point in the year, Florida has averaged over 31 shots per game.

In the end, the Oilers will need to be sharper and ready to play for all 60 minutes if they want to win tonight. They can’t allow goals within the first five minutes in every single period like they did last night and realistically expect to win. If Edmonton can keep things simple and make smarter choices with the puck then they’ll have a decent chance at winning this hockey game. If they don’t do those things, then we could be in for a tough night.

LINEUPS

Oilers

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Adam Larsson is out tonight after leaving last night’s game against the Lightning with a back injury in the third period. Gryba will draw back in on the third pair, and Matt Benning will move up in the lineup to compensate for Larsson’s absence.

JJ Khaira returns to the lineup for the first time since he went out with a back injury on January 18th versus the Panthers, coincidentally. Khaira had been making some nice strides before the injury and we’ll have to hope that the K-train will keep on rolling.

Panthers

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James Reimer starts for the Panthers tonight and he’s won five straight games overall. Over the course of his career, Reimer has a record of 5-1-1 with a .932 save% against the Oilers.

Lineups (subject to change) are courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

SpeedBag

  • The Panthers have been red hot coming into tonight’s contest. Over their last 10 games, Florida has been ripping through the NHL with a record of 8-1-1 and have been scoring at a high rate to match. Edmonton will have to be much better than they were last night if they hope to get back in the win column.
  • Luckily, the Oilers have won seven straight games in Florida and they will look to collect on their eighth as they try to regroup from last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.
  • Florida’s penalty kill is ranked 3rd in the NHL with a success rate of 85.2%. If Edmonton plans to get something going with the man advantage they’re going to have to tighten up their puck movement and find ways to generate traffic in front of James Reimer.
  • Back in January, Edmonton won the first matchup of the season by a score of 4-3 with Connor McDavid putting home the winner with only 2.6 seconds left in the extra frame.
  • Adam Larsson left last night’s game after playing only 14:49. According to John Shannon, Larsson’s back may have seized up during the third period and that is likely to blame for his early exit from last night’s game. Word from the Oilers is that Larsson will miss tonight’s game and that will be a big blow to the back end.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has eight points in eight career games against the Panthers and he’ll need to use some of that history to get some offence going. Same can be said for Jordan Eberle as he also has eight career points vs the Panthers in a nine game stretch.
  • Cam Talbot returns to the net in search of his fourth straight victory. In his last five games, Talbot has a record of 4-1 with a .922 save%. Talbot is the first Oilers’ goalie to hit 30 wins in a season since Tommy Salo did it back in 2002.
  • Even though he’s on the other team I encourage you to take a minute to enjoy Jaromir Jagr tonight. It’s not often when you get to watch legends play and our opportunities to watch him play are winding down. That said, he may have the cure for aging and looks like he could play another two decades, but we can’t count on assumptions, my friends. Now if we could also ask the hockey gods to keep him off the scoresheet that would be fantastic.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Puck Under the Sun

This was the best road trip in franchise history. Now the Cats will face Connor McDavid and the Oilers tomorrow to open up a 4 game homestand. The Panthers play 8 of their next 10 games at home. The Panthers are in 3rd and are only 4 points out of 1st. There is still time to capture a division crown. My friend Lucas at Rats on the Ice said that during these final 25 games we need to go 15-7-3 at least to guarantee a playoff spot. One victory down; 24 games to go. We just need to finish the year with 14 of the 24 remaining games at friendly territory with a 14-7-3 record. Let’s do this!

TONIGHT…

GDB

(Photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers rebound from a lacklustre effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning and put an end to the Panthers’ winning streak. Final score: 4-2 Oilers.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite having a respectable team to watch, the empty seats in Florida don’t make much crowd noise. If McDavid scores a highlight reel goal but no one is there to see it did it ever really happen?

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It’s National Cook a Sweet Potato Day (seriously, look it up) and the boys in blue will use the opportunity to power up on yam fries and catch a quick bronze in the sun before game time. They plan on using the abundance of sweet taters and vitamin D to power them to victory over the Corsi kitties from Florida.