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Photo Credit: isuckatpicking

GDB +1.0: Finally: Playoffs

After the disappointing loss in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, even the most pessimistic fan wouldn’t have predicted it would take almost eleven years before the Oilers returned to the playoffs.

But it happened.

And it was painful.

Last night I emceed the Minerva Foundation’s 40th annual playoff draft and throughout the night all the gentlemen I spoke with were giddy with excitement about tonight. They, like you, suffered through the past ten years. Many season ticket holders have spent over $100,000 and suite holders spent over $1 million supporting the Oilers. You diehard fans watched over 50,000 minutes of NHL hockey without a glimpse of the playoffs.

That ends tonight. I hope you enjoy it.

The excitement in and around Edmonton for tonight’s game is almost indescribable. “This is what you dream of as a kid,” beamed Oscar Klefbom this morning. The Oilers defenceman will play his first NHL playoff game and his parents and grandparents will be watching it live at 4 a.m in Sweden. The players couldn’t hide their excitement, nor should they. Too often we think of professional sports as only a business and rarely do we see the fun side of it. It is still just a game, and as Milan Lucic stated numerous times this morning, “This is fun.”

Every Oilers fan is counting down the minutes to puck drop. Your kids will get to stay up a bit later to watch the game. Young adults aged 18-28 will go to the bar and watch an Oilers playoff game for the first time. Many of you will be there two or three hours before puck drop. At work, everyone, even the non-sports fan, is talking about the game.

Edmonton is a great sports town, and the fans are extremely loyal (arguably too loyal over the past ten years), but tonight all the pain and suffering of the past decade will be forgotten.

It is a new era in Edmonton, and I suspect it will be a long time before an Oilers fan takes the playoffs for granted. You miss this feeling. You miss the nervous anticipation. You’ve likely forgotten how loud you will cheer, how stressed out you will get in a tie game and how much fun you will have being a fan. You will high-five strangers and smile more often. It is very unique to watch a fanbase become united at playoff time.

Oilersnation: welcome to the playoffs. Buckle up. You could be in for one hell of a a ride.

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
Drake Caggiula
Drake Caggiula
Mark Letestu
Mark Letestu
Zack Kassian
Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot
Benoit Pouliot
David Desharnais
David Desharnais
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
Eric Gryba
Eric Gryba
Goalies
Cam Talbot
Cam Talbot

It is playoff time so Todd McLellan wouldn’t divulge his complete lineup. He said we can find out in warmup, but based on yesterday’s lines I expect Eric Gryba and Darnell Nurse to be the Oilers third pair and for Iiro Pakarinen to skate on a line with Benoit Pouliot and David Desharnais.

Sharks

LW C RW
Melker Karlsson
Melker Karlsson
Logan Couture
Logan Couture
Joe Pavelski
Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi
Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau
Joel Ward
Joel Ward
Jannik Hansen
Jannik Hansen
Tomas Hertl
Tomas Hertl
Mikkel Boedker
Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier
Timo Meier
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

Joe Thornton skated this morning, and he’ll be a game time decision. If he plays, he’ll be much less than 100%. Peter Deboer said Thornton will make the decision if he is good enough to contribute, and if he believes he is then he’ll be in the lineup. I’d expect Logan Couture to play. Yesterday he was skating with Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson.

Lineups courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers and Sharks have met once before in the playoffs, with the Oilers winning in six games in 2006. They lost the first two games in San Jose, but won the next four. Patrick Marleau and Thornton are the only players who played in that series. They each had six points.
  • Matt Hendricks is the only current Oilers who was playing pro hockey in 2006. He made his pro debut in the ECHL in 2004/2005 and in 2005/2006 he played 56 games with Rochester in the AHL. Benoit Pouliot and Andrej Sekera had been drafted, but both were 19 years old and playing major junior. No other Oilers were involved with the NHL yet. Connor McDavid was nine years old.
  • Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, Drake Caggiula and Iiro Pakarinen will play their first NHL playoff game tonight. Their excitement was apparent, and Lucic, who will play his 102nd playoff game said, “I feel their energy and I’m just as excited as them. It is great to have that excited energy in the room.”
  • The suggestion the Oilers are a one-man team because McDavid was in on 41% of their goals this season doesn’t make sense to me. Last season Patrick Kane led the NHL with 106 points. He was in on 45% of the Hawks goals. In 2014 Sidney Crosby led the league with 104 points and was in on 43% of the Penguins 217 goals. I don’t recall people calling them a one-line team. McDavid’s points % is lower than both of those two. The Oilers are far from a one player, or a one line team.
  • In the 1980s when the Oilers were considered one of the greatest teams in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky was in on way more than 41% of the goals. Between 1982-1987 he scored 1219 points. In those six seasons the Oilers scored 2,486 goals. He was in on 49% of their goals during the six most productive seasons from one team in NHL history. When you have a great player they will be heavily involved in the offence, but it doesn’t make you a one-line team.
  • If Thornton doesn’t play, Patrick Marleau will play centre, and he isn’t as effective there. The Oilers need to try and exploit him down the middle. He is still a good player, but after speaking with San Jose reporters this morning, the feeling is Marleau is better when he plays the wing.
  • The Oilers were 3-1-1 versus the Sharks this season. They won the last three meetings, outscoring the Sharks 11-5. The Sharks only scored one PP goal in 16 chances (6.2%). The Oilers were three for 18, but scored three goals in the past three games. The Oilers PP has been very outstanding since February 1st, going 22 for 85 (25.8%). In their past 14 games when they won 12, the PP is 15 of 50 (30%). If the PP stays hot the Oilers should win the series.
  • Their PK has rebounded lately as well. It is 86.1% in the past 14 games and they’ve only allowed a PP goal in three of those contests. The Sharks PP was surprisingly quiet this season at 16.7%, 25th in the NHL. Of all 16 playoff teams the Sharks PP is the worst. Their PP has been very good in previous years, so the Oilers need to stay disciplined, but this season the Sharks haven’t been able to get on track on the man advantage.
  • McDavid and Draisailt combined for 46 points in the last 14 games. They are on fire and they will get a heavy dose of Vlasic/Braun tonight. As good as Vlasic is, it is still a matchup that favours the Oilers. Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle have combined for 19 goals in the past 20 games. They have heated up at the right time and Eberle looks like he’s finally regained his offensive confidence. The recent play of the Olers second line gives them a big advantage over the Sharks second unit, especially if Thornton is out.

TONIGHT…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers pick up their first playoff win since a 4-0 shutout over Carolina on June 17th, 2006.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The arena will be rocking. Fans will start chants 45 minutes before puck drop. McDavid continues his point streak.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Caggiula scores his first playoff goal in his first playoff game.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • usetobewise

    Is it just me, or does anyone else hold back not on fully loving Kris Russell based solely on the possibility of him ending up down the QEII next year? I, I, I…….I just don’t want to get hurt Kris!

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Officiating is brutally one-sided as well but you knew the refs were going to favour the American teams. That penalty on Lucic where he breathed on the guy and he suddenly fell over was pretty laughable though.

  • GK1980

    So all penalties against the Oilers were legit but man did the refs miss some calls on San Jose. Regardless of this San Jose is killing them, oilers got to step it up!

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Gotta stop these sloppy no-look passes – the Sharks are gobbling all of these up and asking for more. No excuse for lazy hockey in the play-offs… (looking right at you Draisaitl…)

  • Shameless Plugger

    We look slow. Not speed wise, quick wise. Beat to every puck slow with decisions. A definite eye opener. Last two periods and into overtime we were dominated.

    Not out of it by any means though. Let’s go Oilers. 👏👏👏👏👏 …take it to San Jose all square.

  • Randaman

    Call it what you want but the refs absolutely sucked. Yes, I am a homer but an educated one. This will just have to be chalked up to experience and move on. Nurse was very tentative, slow, unsure, out of his league. I don’t know how to say it but he sucked at best. Maybe it hasn’t been Benning so much. I love Nurse but he was horrible.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    … and there’s the immaturity that’s haunted the Oilers all season. It’s still all good but losing the first game like that is savagely disappointing – especially after how they played the first period.

    If the can consistently bring that effort from the first then they’ll roll over the Sharks easily. If they play any more like the did the rest of the game, San Jose is going to sweep them.

    Everything after the first period was ugly. They stopped hitting. They stopped shooting. They took bad penalties. And every time an Oiler touched the puck they did something to give it back to San Jose.

    Reset the tape. Put this one behind. Remember the first period and repeat. Get ready for payback on Friday.

  • Captain Ron

    No real surprise that last years cup finalist had enough of the Oiler hype and totally schooled them after the first period. They deserved this win and the penalties that were called were in fact penalties. Sharks could win this in 5 or 6 if they keep this up.

  • I am Batman

    Well. I’m sorry for the suckers who paid 400 dollars to watch a third of a game. Unreal. The entire city behind them and they choose to shoot the puck less than 10 times in 2 periods.

    Everyone was terrible, except Talbot. And Connor engaging with 67 year old Pavelski…. seriously????

    Inexperience thing is bs. This is a better team. Wake the f up.

  • Freddie the fog

    I predicted the Oilers would drop the first one , but be better for it moving forward. The Oilers will get better every game this series. We’ll square up on Friday to make it a best of 5. This was never going to be easy for the Oilers…remember SJ was the class of the div. For a good chunk of the season…what you do in March doesnt matter. A veteran team thats been there knows when its time to elevate their game. Lets all take a deep breath and remember in 2006 we were down 2-0 to the Sharks and stormed back to win the series….so we’re right on schedule.

  • GK1980

    Wow, why did they stop playing around the end of the first? After that they just couldn’t get anything done. Stopped hitting and skating. The way this game went im one nervous fan now.