GDB 63.0: CONGREGATION

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Edmonton Oilers fans have enjoyed a wonderful winter and the club has passed every test (so far) worth discussing. As we prepare for the deadline and to exit February, there are some pressures bubbling up from the lower levels—Calgary is pushing! Should this run by the Flames include passing the Oilers?

CURRENT STANDINGS

STANDINGS FEB 26

First, let’s establish what is really important at this point in time. The Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006, so that is the first order of business. With their win yesterday, the LAK are 10 points behind Edmonton, and have a game in hand. Let’s give them the win in that outstanding game, meaning the club is eight points away from the Oilers with 20 to play. That is a gigantic number and very difficult to recover from in the Bettman NHL. If Edmonton goes 9-9-2 in their last 20 games (for instance), the Kings would need to go 14-5-1 to beat them. That isn’t impossible, but the chances are minute.

So, let’s assume Los Angeles is unable to catch Edmonton—in part because the Kings and Calgary Flames play each other four times down the stretch. The issue then becomes the Flames, and their ability to catch Edmonton for that third spot (we are assuming the worst here, Edmonton could finish higher than third inside the Pacific) by season’s end.

Let’s give Edmonton the same 9-9-2 finish (they should be much better based on strength of schedule) and that would result in a final record of 42-30-10, 94 points. In order for Calgary to finish above Edmonton from here, the Flames would need to go 12-5-3 (95 points). The Flames have been 7-2-1 in their last 10, so in order for them to post 95 points, the would have to come close to duplicating that run two more times. Seems like an enormous task.

I think it is reasonable for Oilers fans to breathe a little now in terms of playoffs, and to regard the Flames as at least a minor worry as opposed to a real and present danger for No. 3 in the Pacific Division. Credit to them for putting themselves in this position after a terrible start.

LINEUPS

Oilers

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Predators

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

NOTES

  • We could see Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse back in the lineup for today’s game, and that represents some nice trade deadline adding without assets out.
  • All manner of trade rumors out there from Kevin Shattenkirk to Justin Faulk and beyond. We will see this through trade deadline (I will be on TSN1260’s coverage Wednesday, hope you can tune in) and I do think Peter Chiarelli will be more active than some believe. I think three transactions is a reasonable estimate, there were five a year ago around the deadline (Phil Larsen, Anders Nilsson, Teddy Purcell, Justin Schultz, Patrick Maroon).
  • Jason Gregor mentioned a couple of weeks ago the possibility of an AHL center being added. With Anton Lander ripping up the AHL, that may not be necessary, but it is something to keep in mind.
  • Brandon Davidson’s name is in play, but PC has to factor in the playoffs and possibly robbing his coach of a useful defenseman in the postseason.  Edmonton will have 8 healthy NHL D when all hands are on deck, and may proceed with that number for the rest of the year. Davidson can be dealt before the expansion draft, and maybe the club keeps him and George McPhee takes a different player.
  • The McDavid line has been hemmed in for long periods on the road trip, it will be interesting to see if we see a tweak if this continues.
  • Peter Chiarelli has some picks and prospects to deal at the deadline, but I think there is a reasonable chance we see a substantial player dealt. A lot of forwards who are struggling, suspect there is a possibility of a big deal by Wednesday.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

  • Adam Vingan, The Tennessean: Pekka Rinne, expected to start Sunday, against the Oilers in the past three seasons: 8-0-0, 0.98 GAA, .966 SV%, three shutouts.Filip Forsberg (7G, 2A) is the second Predators player to record at least three points in three consecutive games (Scott Walker, 2004).

    Peter Laviolette said playing James Neal on the fourth line was more about rewarding Austin Watson. Take that for what it’s worth.

  • Source

The item about James Neal is interesting, Neal is a pretty impressive winger to be playing on the 4line. Suspect he will be back up with the skill and giving Cam Talbot fits today.

TONIGHT

GDB

(Photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have a slow start, with defenders shaking off the rust and Cam Talbot getting a lot of work in the first 20. Predators score on a weird goal, Viktor Arvidsson crashing into the net with the puck and getting the goal despite the net going off its moorings.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  The second period starts poorly, with that blasted Ryan Ellis scoring on the man advantage 56 seconds into the frame. Matt Hendricks scores late in the second to set up a big third period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Midway through the period Connor McDavid feeds Jordan Eberle, who dekes (of course) and goes shelf to tie it. In overtime, 97 himself gets a clear breakaway but is hauled down, then scores on the ensuing penalty shot.