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Photo Credit: isuckatpicking

GDB 69.0: Dallas, a Team the Oilers Should Beat

The Dallas Stars sit 26th in the NHL. They are 29th in GAA at 3.24. They don’t give up many shots, averaging 30.4/game (16th in NHL), but their goaltending has not been good enough. Kari Lehtonen has a .902sv% in 42 starts, while Antti Niemi has been worse with a .895sv% in 26 starts.

This is a team the Oilers should beat, and if they create as many quality chances as they did against Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price this past weekend, they will score more than three goals.

There are no easy games in the NHL, but if the Oilers match the intensity of the Stars, they should win because they have more skill, especially in goal with Cam Talbot.

A win would put the Oilers one point back of both Calgary and Anaheim with 13 games remaining. It sets up for a great race, but the Oilers need to beat a weak Stars team.

Despite going winless last week, I didn’t think the Oilers played terribly. Their biggest issue was their inability to finish. They need more urgency around the net. They have enough offensive skill, but they need to show it tonight.

“We need to shoot more,” said Patrick Maroon. “We’ve been a good scoring team all year, we can’t let a few games bother us. We are keeping it light and the guys are having fun. Being in the race is fun,” Maroon said with a smile.

He’s correct. This beats the alternative and none of the players are wallowing in self-pity. They were upbeat. Their focus is more on second place than it is on simply a playoff spot. “You want to put yourself in the best position, and we’ve been right in it all year. We control our own destiny and we need to keep believing. This is so much more fun than anything I’ve experienced in my NHL career,” said a smiling Jordan Eberle.

The players aren’t worried or concerned, but they know they have to play better. Playing well and losing isn’t good enough this time of year. Tonight is a game they need to have, and you would expect them to show desperation and urgency. They proved they can play that way against Pittsburgh, so there is no reason they can’t dial it up again tonight.

LINEUP

Oilers

LW C RW
Patrick Maroon
Patrick Maroon
Connor McDavid
Connor McDavid
Leon Draisaitl
Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic
Milan Lucic
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Jordan Eberle
Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot
Benoit Pouliot
David Desharnais
David Desharnais
Zack Kassian
Zack Kassian
Matt Hendricks
Matt Hendricks
Mark Letestu
Mark Letestu
Anton Slepyshev
Anton Slepyshev
Defensive Pairings
Oscar Klefbom
Oscar Klefbom
Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera
Andrej Sekera
Kris Russell
Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse
Matt Benning
Matt Benning
Goalies
Cam Talbot
Cam Talbot

Anton Slepyshev draws in for Iiro Pakarinen on the fourth line. Benoit Pouliot wasn’t on the ice this morning. Todd McLellan said it was an optional skate, but Pouliot was the only player not on the ice. I find that very odd, considering he hasn’t scored in 28 games. I’d wager he is either banged up, or he had a personal issue to take care of, and I’m leaning more towards the latter.

I thought the Pouliot-Desharnais-Kassian line played okay on the weekend. If Pouliot could awake from his four-and-a-half-month slumber it would be a huge boost for the Oilers.

Stars

LW C RW
Remi Elie
Remi Elie
Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza
Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin
Jamie Benn
Jamie Benn
Cody Eakin
Cody Eakin
Ales Hemsky
Ales Hemsky
Curtis McKenzie
Curtis McKenzie
Radek Faksa
Radek Faksa
Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp
Adam Cracknell
Adam Cracknell
Devin Shore
Devin Shore
Brett Ritchie
Brett Ritchie
Defensive Pairings
Esa Lindell
Esa Lindell
John Klingberg
John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis
Dan Hamhuis
Stephen Johns
Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth
Patrik Nemeth
Jamie Oleksiak
Jamie Oleksiak
Goalies
Antti Niemi
Antti Niemi

Former Oilers star Ales Hemsky will play his seventh game of the season. He missed the first four games of the season with an injury, played on October 22nd, and then had hip surgery and returned to the lineup March 2nd.

When healthy, Hemsky was one of the more exciting players in the league, especially between 2006-2011. He was one of the few players who didn’t slow down when he had the puck, and he was fearless. He never shied away from the tough areas, which likely led to his shoulder injuries. He took many hits from bigger, stronger players, but he never shied away. I hope he can remain healthy.

“I’m happy for the city,” said Hemsky when asked about the Oilers returning to the playoffs. “It was great in 2006. Every where you went everyone was talking hockey. They have a new rink and a good team again, it is great for the city and I’m happy for the people I knew here,” Hemsky said after the morning skate.

Lineups are courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • The Stars have allowed four goals 12 times, five goals ten times, six goals four times and eight goals once. In 27 of their 68 games (39.7%) they’ve surrendered four or more goals.
  • The Oilers scored five in Dallas on November 19th, and tonight screams as a game the Oilers offence can bust out.
  • Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn have combined for 20 PP goals. The rest of their current lineup has 11. Patrick Eaves is no longer in Dallas, but he had eleven goals before being traded. The Stars are 30% (3 for 10) on the PP against the Oilers this season. The PK needs to improve and tonight the focus has to be on Benn and Seguin.
  • The Stars are a frustrated group. They led the west with 109 points last season and only have 64 this year. The Oilers need to jump on them early and score. Doubt can creep into the minds of losing teams much more than it will for contenders. A quick start is a must in my books.
  • The Stars are 6-17-2 when trailing after one period. The Oilers are 7-15-2, so a quick start could be crucial.
  • We will have our second annual NHL17 tournament on April 2nd. The Brick is on board again with a massive first place prize package. Last year it sold out in 45 minutes. Registration will open next Monday at 2 p.m. at Jasongregor.com. Good luck and hope to see you there.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

From Defending Big D

Season after season, the Edmonton Oilers were seemingly basement dwellers in the NHL that got lucky exactly one time a season: when the draft lottery drawing occurred.

After years of stockpiling youth, the Oilers are finally starting to be a playoff threat like many had predicted the last two seasons. They’ve been on a bit of a skid lately, however. Their recent 1-2-1 home stand, combined with the Calgary Flames’ red hot 10-game win streak, has bumped them back to the first Wild Card position.

That means they’ll be desperate for points tonight. Head coach Todd McLellan knows Dallas isn’t an easy win, though. “Dallas is an offensive time bomb,” he said. “They have the ability to explode at any point and score a ton of goals, so we’ll have our hands full with that.”

TONIGHT…

(Photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers take care of business and their offence breaks out in a 6-3 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores his first goal of the season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up his first four-point game of his career. He has one five-point night, and he’s tallied three points eleven times, including a hat-trick earlier this season against the Stars. He picks up his sixth multi-goal game of his career.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Florescent Oil Orange

    In the what they said section the quote tmac saying Dallas is an offensive time bomb. If memory serves correctly, that’s what he use to say about the Oilers when we sucked. Translation two easy points

  • Lazarus

    Oilers are 28-23-8 since their 7-1 start. Fact. This team doesn’t scare anyone .
    It is lucky for ON that the Oilers have one of the easiest schedules the rest of the year, and they are going to need it.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      and if the Flames didn’t win 10 in a row, they’d be 29-26. and if you take the best win streak from every team in the league this season, they’d all have worse records than they do. not sure exactly what your point is here?….you don’t think going 28-23 in the win-loss column in itself shows significant improvement from where this team has usually been at this point in the season year after year after year? maybe they aren’t scaring anyone but they sure as hell have made it known to other teams that you are in for a battle if you play us!

        • Florescent Oil Orange

          Oh well if we only want to read the part of the stats that prove our point well it is so clear let’s cancel the playoffs right now and award your shames the cup. I mean obviously you will tweak the stats you count all the way down to goals that Jenny hockey scores on a Wednesday as the key stat. And the shames of course win the cup…. They will be the only team to score a goal in the post season

      • Lazarus

        Absolutely. Difference is the Flames sizzling play is current, not 60 games ago. What do you think is a more accurate representation of each team. The Flames peaking before the playoffs or the Oilers 5 months ago. That’s my point.
        Oilers a real a long ways removed from their hot start and have been clinging to it all year..they have over the season dwindled it away to the tune of only being a handful of games above a .500 club since

        • Florescent Oil Orange

          That would be quite the point to make. To bad it’s wrong. Or maybe your bias lets you see it that way. When breaking the Oilers season into quarters. In each quarter completed the Oilers were within a couple points for each 21 game span. So…. There goes your theory

          • Florescent Oil Orange

            How is it different. You said removing hot start showed the Oilers we average. I replied by saying in each 21 game segment the points they got are very close. So it would seem to me that they have been earning points consistently

  • Hemmercules

    Play the way they played against the Pens and this is a win for sure. Play the way they did against the Habs and its probably a loss. Need a statement game to get the confidence back.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Glad to hear the boys are keeping it loose. Staying loose means they’re confident, and won’t be gripping their sticks too tightly. They’ll get it done tonight.

  • LordVallko

    Couldnt agree more, this team is full of Todd forced errors, we are doomed if in Todd we trust. Calgary is trash compared to this team except for coaching and they have won 9 straight. When a team completely falls apart in the last 5 minutes as many times as the oilers have, how can you blame anything but coaching. Todd is an overpaid overrated coach. Sorry guys but this team will go no where unless he leaves first. You can take that to the bank.

  • Burns14

    Oilers will have to be Sharp tonight if they want to Klingberg onto a chance of playoff home ice advantage. I’m not Antti-Oiler, but they haven’t Benn playing well. Hope they strike it Ritchie tonight and send them home in nothing but their Johns.

  • I am Batman

    The stars are a better team than the standings show.
    They have Benn, Seguin, Spezza, Sharp spreaded around the line up. They have klingberg who is underrated and their goalies although aren’t showing well this year have enough talent and experience to count them out of any game.
    On top of that, the Stars are very well coached and this marquee coaches duels haven’t gone well for McClellan.
    If the Oilers don’t come out of the gate with killer instinct and to leave their all. We are going to get “bufalloed”

    • dabears318

      this website appears to be the creation of the hiring of a consulting firm, who have no actual experience as an oilersnation reader / commentator. they also appear to not have mitigated that with any form of user acceptance testing, or having long time members of the community help with the design process. Guesswork on my part, but I can see it.

      I’ve been reading here since early 2010, and will continue to do so. But I hope that comments like these aren’t swept under the rug, as I have already seen representatives of this site getting upset at the criticism. As someone who designs UI’s daily, the biggest threat to a eventually successful design is EGO and EMOTION.

      • Gravis82

        I posted here because there is not really any other way to comment on the website other than twitter. The only email address is the editor, and I didnt really want to bother him with this.

      • oilerjed

        one add you might want to think about is a program that roots out Flames Trolls Like Stickhandler and zaps their computer hard drives. All while live feeding their computer cam so that we can watch the look on their face just before the screen goes blank……..

      • I am Batman

        Not care much for honest criticism, hey?
        That’s the way we all improve my good Sir. When a fan of the site voices his opinion you should be thankful for he is giving you a chance to make it better. I’m not a fan neither and I already said my piece, I hope it improves so I can stay being a faithful reader and enjoying the experience.

        • OilersGM

          I agree. Majority of the fans don’t like it, even the poll they did on it had 37% dislike and 34% likes and the rest was for other. Shouldn’t the fans opinion matter because we’re on here as much as the people writing the article.

          • Not a First Tier Fan

            Okay – good points from Gravis… it’s weird – looks like if the comment thread goes too far over to the right you can’t reply anymore… like it’s three replies and done or something. I agree that needs to be fixed ASAP..

            Also – editing comments – check that box for me as well.

            But visually to better..

            *ducks and runs away*

          • Gravis82

            Ok, here is another one. I tried to reply to Dwayne Roloson 35’s comment, but couldnt. There was no reply button on his comment, hmmm. Also, I tried to edit a comment, and couldn’t. So there, fix those two asap.

            And you cant always assume that because people don’t like a change that its because people just don’t like change. What if the change was actually bad? Then what? How do you know define good vs bad? You have a different version of good than everyone else, but what if you are the minority? Point is, if you care about your stakeholders you work with them and take their input seriously during change that will affect them, or you lose them.

          • Dwayne Roloson 35

            That just means 63% either like it or it doesn’t matter to them. That was also when it first came out.

            Some people aren’t good with change and they’ve already improved some things. I’d like to see a new Poll at the end of the month to get the updated opinions.

        • Dwayne Roloson 35

          Well he didn’t really add anything. He just said he doesn’t like it. That’s just criticism with out the constructive part. Seems like he’s just not good with change.

          I really like the new site. You’re able to see much easier that I replied to you and you dont have to go back to figure out what was said.

          • Gravis82

            Of anyone that currently exists in the world, I feel that I, and I alone, I am best positioned to assess what I feel and why I feel it. How nice of you to try though.

          • Gravis82

            The thing about good design is you don’t really know why it works, it just does. The reverse is true for bad design, it just doesn’t feel right for some reason. And that’s what this re-design is giving off for me. If I were a designer that got paid a lot of money for this, that would be my main concern. Do the vast majority of people like it, or do they not like it? Its a simple question. If they do, then there is no reason to look to improve. If they don’t, well then perhaps some tweaking is required. So my opinion of one extremely frequent user is very simply, I don’t like this. Result, I have already spent less time here, and commented less.

            Honestly me giving my opinion of why I feel that way means little, because its very unlikely they will say “oh, yes, lets write that down and make that change because gravis82 said so”. But if enough people express their general displeasure, perhaps they will provide us a forum to provide feedback. If that happened, I would gladly provide specific comments as it would signal that site management is willing to take feedback seriously and perhaps use that feedback to drive improvements.

            Its people like me that click every day that pay for this site, and probably salaries as well. I may not even know enough about web design to make an accurate comment on how to imprvoe, so there is that as well.

            Ok, but after typing this, lets start with this one. The comment box is three lines deep. Seriously? The prior comment box was at least 20. This is incredibly annoying. Considering how people post on ON, I would think that having a larger comment box would be so plainly obvious to everyone, especially management.

            Perhaps some user acceptance testing would have been a good idea, no? But hey, its your clicks (money).

          • Not a First Tier Fan

            I’m liking the way the new design looks on my ipad… on my phone it’s a little less attractive but definitely liveable. We’ll all get used to the new digs and baggedmilk and the boys will work to make it even better. Instead of being haters why not let the ON team know what you don’t like and what would make it better?

  • Stack

    Too many time this season the Oilers are still half asleep when the whistle blows and get off to a bad start, sometimes they can recover. If they can manage to play well right from puckdrop this should be a win. GO Oilers!!

  • Reg Dunlop

    So, the players aren’t worried or concerned. They might be better served if they get a little worried. The lack of desperation in their game must change if they want to stop getting out-hustled. Dallas plays spoiler tonight with a 5-3 win and collars get just a little tighter around here.

    • Have to agree, no urgency whatsoever, no intensity, still cruising around like it is a Disney On Ice charity event. You would think guys like Ebs and Nuge who have never tasted the playoffs , would ramp it up , at least a little bit, but no. of course not, as Mac-T’s an K Lowes prized picks continue to do squat. I predicted that if they kept Mac-t employed , we would miss the playoffs, hoping to be wrong, but it is getting closer to reality every day, keep putting in piss poor efforts and we will be out of it by the weekend.

  • Stickhandler

    r u an angry millennial? do u hate when u don’t get your way? do you stomp your feet in frustration? fan base of muffins, just like your 1 man/child team. all you have is insults?