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Photo Credit: isuckatpicking

GDB 80.0: A Playoff Preview?

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

The Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks have met once in the playoffs. The Oilers won the second-round series 4-2 in 2006. Doug Wilson is still the Sharks GM and Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are the only players on either roster who played in that series. Outside of their lone playoff meeting, the Oilers and Sharks organizations and fans don’t have much deep-seeded hatred or animosity for each other.

But that will change if they meet in the playoffs next week.

Right now the Sharks are the most likely first-round opponent for the Oilers. A Sharks victory tonight, combined with Anaheim picking up at least one point against Chicago would guarantee an Oilers/Sharks first round. The Oilers can still finish first if they win their three remaining games and Anaheim only picks up two points in their final two games, but as of this morning the highest odds points to Edmonton facing San Jose.

There hasn’t been much animosity among these teams over the years.

Raffi Torres’ late hit on Milan Michalek in the 2006 playoffs was one.

Bryan Marchment hitting Doug Weight’s knee led to many fights and Doug Weight going after Marchment the next time they met. *I couldn’t find footage of Marchment’s hit on Weight in 2000, but I can still picture it, and Weight chasing him down and getting a fighting major while Marchment didn’t get one. Weight wasn’t afraid to stand up for himself.**

The main reason the Oilers and Sharks rivalry didn’t intensify after 2006 was due to the Oilers inability to ice a competitive team, and that by the start of the 2008 season only five skaters from the Cup run were still in Edmonton: Hemsky, Horcoff, Pisani, Moreau and Staios.

We won’t see that much change over in Edmonton moving forward. And this edition of the Oilers won’t be a bottom-feeder unable to compete next year or over the next five seasons. Which ever team they face this postseason it should be the start of at least a healthy rivalry. It likely won’t be a vicious one, but Oilers fans are simply excited about the possibility of having a healthy on-ice rival.

Both teams are aware of the standings and the strong possibility of a playoff matchup. I could see this game mirroring the animosity we witnessed between Calgary and Anaheim on Tuesday. I hope it does. Heightened emotion only makes the games more fun to play, watch and report on.

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
Drake Caggiula
Drake Caggiula
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

Pakarinen draws in for Slepyshev.

Matt Benning and Darnell Nurse had a rough night in LA. Experience is not overrated, and while I have no doubt Benning will be very good in the future, I thought we’d see Eric Gryba tonight. I’m guessing McLellan wants to give Benning a chance to bounce back, and keep his confidence high late in the season. Nurse and Benning have played a combined 172 NHL games. Both look like they will have solid careers, but today their biggest challenge is inexperience.  It is a great opportunity for this pair to show the coach they can play well vs. a playoff team, but I still think we will see Gryba in the playoffs. Experience can help.

Sharks

LW C RW
Melker Karlsson
Melker Karlsson
Joe Pavelski
Joe Pavelski
Joel Ward
Joel Ward
Jannik Hansen
Jannik Hansen
Tomas Hertl
Tomas Hertl
Mikkel Boedker
Mikkel Boedker
Joonas Donskoi
Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau
Timo Meier
Timo Meier
Kevin Labanc
Kevin Labanc
Chris Tierney
Chris Tierney
Marcus Sorensen
Marcus Sorensen
Defensive Pairings
Paul Martin
Paul Martin
Brent Burns
Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Justin Braun
Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon
Brenden Dillon
David Schlemko
David Schlemko
Goalies
Martin Jones
Martin Jones

Yesterday Joe Thornton said he’ll be ready for the playoffs. Yesterday he said, “Who knows, maybe I’ll play tomorrow,” but he won’t play tonight. However, the return of him and Logan Couture will make the Sharks a much better team in the playoffs. Couture took a puck in the face on March 25th and suffered severe damage to his mouth. He gave this update on what happened.

Ouch.

QUICK HITS…

  • If the Sharks and Ducks win tonight, then Anaheim is guaranteed first place. If Sharks win Anaheim only needs one point to clinch top spot. If the Oilers win in regulation, then first, second and third place will still be up for grabs, but the Ducks will be guaranteed first or second and the Oilers would need only one point in their final two games to secure second place. A regulation loss tonight would mean the Oilers need Calgary to defeat San Jose, in any fashion, and then Edmonton would need to sweep Vancouver to finish in second. Winning will make their quest for home ice advantage much easier.
  • If you can’t beat the Sharks without Couture and Thornton, then their chances of winning a seven game series with them in the lineup would seem very low.
  • Scary story out of Buffalo concerning Kyle Okposo. Paul Hamilton of WGR 550 in Buffalo was the first to report Okposo was in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Medical Center. We wish him a speedy recovery.
  • Martin Jones has won his last two starts, both against Vancouver, but in his previous five games he was very shaky. The Wild, Predators, Oilers, Rangers and Flames lit him up. He allowed 21 goals on 133 shots (.842sv%), and the Oilers need to try and get in his head again and make him question his ability to shut down playoff teams.
  • McDavid needs five points in three games to reach 100 points. He’d become the eighth Oilers player to do so, joining Wayne Gretzky (9 times), Jari Kurri (6), Mark Messier (5), Paul Coffey and Glenn Anderson (3) and Jimmy Carson and Doug Weight (1).

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Fear the Fin

The Sharks and Oilers are very likely to meet up in the first round of the postseason and since it seems Joe Thornton and Logan Couture will return for said matchup tonight’s game gives the rest of the guys one more opportunity to get some extra ice time. That’s what we call the “glass half full” mentality around these parts.

There’s no telling what type of shape Couture and Thornton will be in when they return to the lineup, so it’s imperative the Sharks get as good a look at everyone else as possible. San Jose beat Vancouver on Tuesday night in not-so-convincing fashion so keep an eye on the lines at the morning skate to see if head coach Pete DeBoer decides to mix things up.

If there’s a positive for San Jose it’s that Edmonton hasn’t blown anyone away, either. The Oilers blew a two-goal lead to the Kings on Tuesday and as such are tied with the Sharks at 97 points with a game in hand. A win for San Jose moves them ahead of Edmonton in points (the Sharks hold the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker).

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: These are the types of games we look forward to watching. The game is entertaining and we even get some bonus OT time, mainly because Bettman likes to troll us by never having easy playoff situations, and the Oilers win in OT for the second time in San Jose. 4-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Drew Remenda will make numerous positive comments about the Oilers, but when he says something positive about the Sharks some commenters will snap and ask for him to be fired and go back to San Jose, who he clearly loves.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH scored twice on Tuesday, including his prettiest goal in a few years. He has scored in consecutive games eleven times in his career, but only twice has he scored in the game following a multi-goal game, both times against the Winnipeg Jets. RNH scores his sixth career goal against San Jose tonight.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

RIP DOD Party

Get preparations ready for your playoff beard!  Our friends at Tommy Gun’s in the Brewery District are going to be doing beard shaves at the Pint from 5pm to 6.30pm on Saturday.
Get to the RIP DOD party early to secure your seats at the Pint to get your free pre-playoff shave, and receive some added perks thanks to Tommy Gun’s – Edmonton Brewery District!  Get your RIP DOD party tickets here.