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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 78.0: Pacific Heights!

There’s not a man alive who can look me in the eye and tell me they knew this was coming. At the other end, there are people who believe this Oilers team is playing above their heads right now, and tonight’s game represents a very good test for a young, emerging team. Ladies and men: This is the good stuff.

REASONS FOR SUCCESS

These are strong arrows for a building team. The Oilers have areas that need improvement, but the actual results in 2016-17 are fantastic.

REASONS FOR FURROWED BROW

The one nagging bit of math that should keep us humble is described perfectly by Sunil Agnihorti at The SuperFan.

  • Agnihotri: The one issue for the Oilers is that possession wise, they have slid down to 19th in the league sitting at a 49.66% Corsi For percentage, which indicates their goal-share at even-strength might not exactly be sustainable. What’s even more concerning is that over their last 25 games, which would go back to the end of January, the team’s Corsi has been 47.46%, a number that the bottom-feeders of the league typically post. To make matters worse, while the team continues posting a respectable Corsi For% with McDavid on the ice, over the last 25 games, without McDavid the Oilers have a Corsi For% of 45.48%. Source

There is a tendency to look at these numbers and react in one of two ways:

  1. Reject the evidence as being superfluous or searching for previous examples of teams who have succeeded in spite of a 45 percent Corsi number. History tells us that a team scoring 5×5 at Edmonton’s current rate will not be able to sustain that kind of production.
  2. Blame the problem on injuries. There is some truth to this, Matt Benning’s play since his concussion hasn’t been on the same level, while Kris Russell and Adam Larsson are likely dealing with the rigors of a long season.

Either way, the record is fantastic this morning and a win tonight allows Oilers to spend the rest of the weekend at the top of the Pacific mountain. I will be watching that possession number tonight, it has a story to tell.

LINEUPS

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
Drake Caggiula
Drake Caggiula
Mark Letestu
Mark Letestu
Matt Hendricks
Matt Hendricks
Defensive Pairings
Oscar Klefbom
Oscar Klefbom
Adam Larsson
Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera
Andrej Sekera
Kris Russell
Kris Russell
Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse
Eric Gryba
Eric Gryba
Goalies
Cam Talbot
Cam Talbot

Ducks

LW C RW
Andrew Cogliano
Andrew Cogliano
Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler
Jakob Silfverberg
Jakob Silfverberg
Rickard Rakell
Rickard Rakell
Antoine Vermette
Antoine Vermette
Patrick Eaves
Patrick Eaves
Nick Ritchie
Nick Ritchie
Nate Thompson
Nate Thompson
Corey Perry
Corey Perry
Logan Shaw
Logan Shaw
Chris Wagner
Chris Wagner
Jared Boll
Jared Boll
Defensive Pairings
Cam Fowler
Cam Fowler
Brandon Montour
Brandon Montour
Hampus Lindholm
Hampus Lindholm
Josh Manson
Josh Manson
Sami Vatanen
Sami Vatanen
Kevin Bieksa
Kevin Bieksa
Goalies
John Gibson
John Gibson

Lineups (subject to change) courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

NOTES

  • Connor McDavid ranks No. 2 among NHL forwards in 5×5/60 scoring. This is an extremely important statistic, and 97 has been at or near the top since he arrived in the league.
  • The line of Patrick Maroon-Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl is scoring at a 3.37/60 clip, and Corsica.hockey tells us that’s the No. 1 5×5 unit in the NHL (450 or more minutes).
  • The Oilers may have been contemplating using this week to give players like Laurent Brossoit, Jujhar Khaira and (possibly) Jesse Puljujarvi some playing time with the big club. However, the chance to win the division must also have real appeal and we’ll see how the roster is deployed.
  • Drake Caggiula has turned a corner. As often happens with rookies, it took some time for the game to slow down for him, and even though chances were coming earlier in the year, Caggiula couldn’t cash. He also had injury issues to overcome. In the last 10 games or so, you can see the added composure and confidence. Good to see.
  • The Bakersfield Condors played and lost last night, meaning the race for the playoffs is basically a tie between them and the Stockton Heat (Flames affiliate).
  • One of the keys to a long run in the postseason? Secondary scoring. The fourth line (Caggiula-Letestu-Slepyshev) had a fine game this week, I wonder if they see increased playing time. There’s offensive talent on that line.
  • Be one of the first 150 people to get #RIPDOD party tickets and you’re entered to win a party package from Platinum Limos!

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

  • C.J. Woodling, Anaheim Calling: 4 of the remaining 5 games left on the season come against playoff teams: Edmonton, Calgary (X2), and Chicago. Every one of these teams would prove to be a handful for the Ducks given their recent play, so the true playoff-ready report card will be graded come the completion of the regular season on April 9th. Source

TONIGHT

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The playoff atmosphere we’ve seen in recent games continues, with an added dose of filth from Kesler and his gang of Ducks. The game is beyond chippy, but Edmonton gives as much as it gets. Penalties galore, no score after one.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  An extended period of four-on-four hockey ignites the most exciting portion of the game late in the second period. Edmonton almost cashes twice in one sequence, but Ryan Kesler deflects the puck in with his skate at the other end and it counts. Anger and rage ensue, with many Edmontonians caught on video saying things that leave lip readers aghast.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers push and push for the tying marker but cannot cash. With 15 seconds left in the game, Ryan Kesler grabs the puck just his side of center and rips the puck toward the heart of the net. It is just inches over twine, and icing is called. Mark Letestu wins the draw, and Connor McDavid sends a bullet shelf and we are tied with 0.9 seconds left in the game! A video review for hand on glove takes 23 minutes, but the goal counts. Early in overtime, Cam Talbot makes an enormous save and Connor McDavid sets his jaw and skates for daylight. An insane deke that leaves the Anaheim goalie in row 6 is followed by a tap in from two feet for 97. Oilers win! And fans stream out into the night, knowing something about this spring is very different.