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Photo Credit: NewfieMikey

GDB 74.0: Welcome to the Basement

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

The Colorado Avalanche are having a horrible season. They are 20-49-3 and have been outscored 237-140. They are on pace to finish the year with 48 points, the lowest total for a team since the expansion Atlanta Thrashers had 39 points in 1999/2000.

Colorado is 7-21-2 in their last 30 games. They aren’t suddenly getting better. The plan leading up to the back-to-back games in Anaheim and Colorado was to start Laurent Brossoit tonight, and even though Cam Talbot was pulled midway through the second period last night, I’d stick with that plan.

There is no reason to panic because of one loss.

If the Oilers are too fragile that you can’t rest your starter against the worst team the NHL has seen in 17 seasons then no one should expect them to do much in the playoffs. I believe the Oilers are good enough to win without Talbot, and while I’m sure Talbot wants to play right away after struggling last night, I’d stick with the plan and give him a mental break.

McLellan could go back to Talbot tonight and play Brossoit at home on Saturday and give Talbot the rest then, but I’d stick with the original plan. Talbot will be fine whether he plays tonight or Saturday. He’s been too good all season too worry about one off night.

I thought Brossoit played very well considering the situation. He hadn’t played in a month. His last NHL action was February 21st in Tampa Bay, and he came off the bench cold to face a 5-on-3 right away. He didn’t allow a goal. He played well and that’s why I’d stick with the original plan, which was to give Talbot the day off. I’d rather him have two days off then play Saturday and have another two days off before hosting the Kings on Tuesday March, 28th.

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
Iiro Pakarinen
Iiro Pakarinen
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

The Oilers didn’t skate this morning, so we won’t know until later who is in or out, but I’d guess we see Matt Benning on the blueline and two new wingers on the fourth line. McLellan mentioned before the trip he wants to keep guys involved, so I’d expect two of Matt Hendricks, Jujhar Khaira and Iiro Pakarinen to draw in. We’ll update the lineups as we get confirmation on what’s happening.

***Edit update*** The Oilers confirmed Talbot is starting. He obviously wanted to bounce back and I see the merit in it, but I would have stuck with Brossoit. I’m sure McLellan feels a strong sense of loyalty towards Talbot, because he’s played so well all season, and if the goalie really wanted to get back in the net tonight I can see why coach agreed with him. I would have gone with Brossoit, but ultimately it shouldn’t matter. The Avs are not good, and the Oilers should beat them if they show up. You would hope the players put forth a better effort to help their starter who has bailed them out numerous times this season.***

Avalanche

LW C RW
Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog
Matt Duchene
Matt Duchene
Rene Bourque
Rene Bourque
Sven Andrighetto
Sven Andrighetto
Nathan Mackinnon
Nathan Mackinnon
Mikko Rantanen
Mikko Rantanen
John Mitchell
John Mitchell
 Carl Soderberg
Carl Soderberg
Blake Comeau
Blake Comeau
Mikhail Grigorenko
Mikhail Grigorenko
JT Compher
JT Compher
Joe Colborne
Joe Colborne
Defensive Pairings
Erik Johnson
Erik Johnson
Mark Barberio
Mark Barberio
Fedor Tyutin
Fedor Tyutin
Tyson Barrie
Tyson Barrie
Anton Lindholm
Anton Lindholm
Francois Beauchemin
Francois Beauchemin
Goalies
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith

Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • Having watched some bad Oilers teams, I’m surprised how brutal Colorado is. Even in the worst years, the Oilers at least had some players having really good years. Jordan Eberle scored 76 points, Taylor Hall had 80 (50 in the lockout shortened season), and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had 52 points in 62 games as a rookie. Matt Duchene has 37 points this year. Nathan MacKinnon is the only player over 40 points, with 45. The Avs shouldn’t be this bad, but they’ve truly been awful.
  • They are a whopping 20 points behind 29th place Arizona. They aren’t even close to the second worst team in the league. The most recent time the last place team was 20 points behind the second worst squad was in 1993/1994 when Ottawa finished with 37 points and Winnipeg had 57. We are watching a truly horrific season by the Avalanche.
  • McDavid needs 15 points in his final nine games to reach 100. He has 13 points in his previous nine games, including ten points in his last five. It is possible. Will he do it? I sure hope so. I love offence. If he does reach triple digits, he would finish the season with 25 points in his final 14 games. Not bad.
  • Leon Draisaitl has 11 points in his last five games and is now tenth among forwards in points and tied for tenth in assists. If he finishes in the top-ten in either category he’ll hit his $1.625 million “B” bonus. It would put the Oilers over the salary cap and they’d have about a $1 million dollar cap penalty next year. This is the final year of Draisaitl’s deal and his last chance to hit a bonus until he is 35 years of age. You have the playoff seeding race, the McDavid race for the Art Ross and Hart trophy and now the Draisaitl race for top-ten to watch. And Cam Talbot becoming a Vezina finalist. After so many years of painfully watching the race for lottery odds it is refreshing to have something meaningful to cover and watch.
  • There are many great races not involving the Oilers. Every division is up for grabs, although Chicago now has a six point lead on Minnesota and the Wild have a game in hand. The Capitals, Penguins and Blue Jackets are separated by two points. The winner finishes first in the division, first in the NHL and, arguably most importantly, avoids the other two teams in the first round. The Canadiens have a three-point lead on the Senators, but Ottawa has a game in hand. The Sharks are two points up on the Ducks, who are two points ahead of the Oilers, who are one point up on Calgary. Home ice advantage for both playoff series in the Pacific division  will likely go down to the final weekend of the season. The race for the Calder, Norris, Selke, Vezina, Lady Byng and Jack Adams will also come down to the final weekend. It is great drama for the NHL.
  • The Oilers had way too many passengers last night. This hasn’t been an issue lately, but outside of McDavid’s line, the Sekera/Russell pairing and Brossoit, very few played as well as they are capable of. Stats can be a funny thing some times. I didn’t think the second line generated much, but they ended up with more shots and shot attempts for than against. I don’t think they were tenacious enough, and outside of a few good shifts in the third by the fourth line, I don’t think the second-fourth lines played as well as they should be, especially in a big game like last night. Those players need a bounce back effort tonight.
  • Our NHL17 tournament is basically sold out. We only have three spots left and to ensure we didn’t over sell we’ve shut down the link to register. If you want one of the final three spots you can email jgregor@tsn1260.ca. Good luck to all who entered. Happy gaming.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

From Mile High Hockey

When the Avalanche and Oilers met back in November, next to no one would have predicted where these two teams would be as the season now draws to a close. While the young Oilers had a strong start to the season, there were questions as to if they would be able to maintain through the gauntlet of an 82-game season. The Avalanche were below .500, but that 6-3 come-from-behind victory for the Oilers would begin the Avs’ true downfall to depravity.

Now, with ten games remaining in the season, the Oilers are pushing not only to make the playoffs in over ten years, but to fight for a division title, while the Avalanche face a last place finish and the title of worse team of the salary cap era.

TONIGHT

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Regardless of who plays in goal, the Oilers respond with a much better effort, especially their brutal second period last night. Oilers win 5-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The comment section has a healthy debate over whether Talbot should play tonight or Saturday.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Prior to a faceoff the camera catches a conversation between Duchene and RNH.

“Tough year.” says RNH
“F me, it’s brutal. How did you get up for games in March when you were so far out of it?” Duchene asks.
“It was tough. People say there is no pressure, that’s BS,” RNH says.
“I know. Nothing to play for. And I’m having a crap year,” Duchene replies.
“I noticed. I had 50 points three times. You only have 37. Ouch,” laughed RNH.
“Screw you. You can’t even grow a playoff beard,” seethed Duchene.
“I have more moustache hairs than you have points,” RNH said.

RNH wins the faceoff and Duchene, who leads the NHL with 62.9% in the dot, was clearly rattled.

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