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Photo Credit: NewfieMIkey

GDB: +4.0: Commanding lead or best-of-three?

There are two possible outcomes in California this evening.

In one, the Edmonton Oilers win Game 4, taking a 3-1 series lead over the San Jose Sharks. Historically, teams with a 3-1 lead win just over 90 percent of those series, and teams with home ice advantage (as the Oilers have) win 92 percent. It won’t be over, but the situation will be desperate for San Jose.

In the other, the Sharks even the series at home, turning it into a best-of-three. The Oilers will still have their home ice advantage, but will have failed to capitalize on the injuries that have limited star San Jose centres Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. As those players find the range, winning will become more difficult.

The stakes are always high in playoff hockey, which is what makes it the incredible experience it is.

Lineups

***Note that tables and lineups are now scrollable on mobile***

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
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

We expect no changes to the Oilers lineup that has won its last two games. Coach Todd McLellan implied in his pre-game availability that we should probably not expect his Game 3 tweaks to carry over to the start of this one, saying there was a “good chance” that Connor McDavid would once again have Leon Draisaitl on his wing:

Sharks

LW C RW
Melker Karlsson
Melker Karlsson
Joe Thornton
Joe Thornton
Joe Pavelski
Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau
Patrick Marleau
Logan Couture
Logan Couture
Joel Ward
Joel Ward
Joonas Donskoi
Joonas Donskoi
Tomas Hertl
Tomas Hertl
Jannik Hansen
Jannik Hansen
Marcus Sorensen
Marcus Sorensen
Chris Tierney
Chris Tierney
Timo Meier
Timo Meier
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

The questions about whether Thornton and Couture would play have passed, but their overall effectiveness remains debatable. The Sharks have a deep and competent defence corps and have played like it, but what on paper is a very good top-nine has so far failed to crack Edmonton’s defence and Cam Talbot. This is still a scary outfit.

What They’re Saying

From Fear the Fin:

The Sharks are in an interesting spot three games into this series. While they haven’t played very well (fatigue and injury being key reasons why, in my opinion), the Oilers continue to give San Jose life in this series. A win tonight makes this a very winnable series for the Sharks; a loss… well, yeah. Less so.

Quick Hits

  • I thought it was probably a mistake of the Oilers to ride Cam Talbot as hard as they did down the stretch, with a playoff spot virtually assured and with him having no record of playing 70-plus games in a season. Not only did he not get hurt, but so far he’s stopped 80 of 83 playoff shots (0.964 save percentage). I’d still be leery of that kind of workload, but there’s no question that it’s worked out beautifully for Edmonton this year, which is a credit to the player.
  • Edmonton/San Jose has been an incredibly low-event series, not just in terms of goals but also in terms of shots. San Jose ranks 13th among playoff teams with 27.7 shots per game; Edmonton ranks 15th with 25.7 shots per game.
  • Only Montreal has a better penalty kill in these playoffs so far than the Oilers. The Canadiens have killed all 10 New York power plays that they have faced. Edmonton has killed 13 of 14 Sharks advantages (93 percent).
  • If the teams currently leading their respective series go on to win them, four of the eight teams in the second round of the playoffs will be Canadian, and at least one (the winner of Montreal and Ottawa) would be guaranteed a spot in the Conference final. After no Canadian team even made the playoffs a year ago, this is a dramatic swing in fortune.
  • I mentioned the all-time numbers for teams with a 3-1 series lead at the outset, but didn’t get into some of the interesting ramifications of those numbers. If we imagine every game after that 3-1 series lead as a 50/50 coin toss, the team with the lead would win the series 88 percent of the time, which is incredibly close to the 90 percent of the time that team actually does win.

Tonight

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

Game day prediction: Edmonton doesn’t waste this opportunity. The Sharks refuse to go away quietly, but when all is said and done the Oilers win the game by a 4-3 score and take a 3-1 series lead back to Alberta.

Obvious game day prediction: Sharks fans will be angry at Zack Kassian. I don’t know what he’ll do, and I don’t know if it will be justified, but I saw plenty of Oilers social media and comment sections back when Kassian played Vancouver and he has a way of getting under the skin of the opposing fan base. And that’s even when he isn’t scoring playoff game-winners.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: The fourth line, finally, finds its feet. Anton Slepyshev scores the game-winning goal, Benoit Pouliot and David Desharnais collect the assists.

Watching at home tonight?

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  • MrBung

    Unfortunately, this game is the series turning point. This is a case where experience is making a difference. San Jose has never really had any bad games yet. Even the one’s that San Jose lost were close. F*ck.

    • Anton CP

      At least that the Oilers came out with fire on game 1 and then cool off after but it was still a tight game. This one is just that the team are not even trying at all.

      • MrBung

        That’s the concerning part. They look like they have given up and hoping they can get to the next game…however, San Jose will be rolling into the next one with a lot of confidence. Especially when they see that Talbot can be beat.

      • Shameless Plugger

        Not even trying? I disagree they aren’t Trying. They’re being taught a lesson by a veteran team that went to the final last year. Don’t discredit the sharks. They’re a good team. We are learning a lesson tonight and what I’m saying is I liked the response the last time they were taught a lesson. Which for me was game 1.

        • Anton CP

          Some of them has been trying hard, at least the 666 line is trying very hard but the Oilers bluelines are no show tonight. Sekera cannot even settle down the puck, Nurse/Benning pairing is hard to watch, Draisaitl just completely gave up and decided to remove himself from the game, Slepyshev may not even know where he is, Maroon was invisible until he got a cheap penalty, Klefbom threw bunch of lazy passes, and even McDavid lost his cool and cannot get his emotion in check.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    McLellan needs to dive this point home to the team. If you come out in the play-offs and play lazy hockey then you get embarassed. Badly.

    Oilers are better than they’ve shown tonight. Unfortunately they came out flat and, for tonight at least, proved all those jackasses on the San Jose board right. So far this game they’ve been absolutely lousy.

    Ah well. Get on the board and salvage a little pride here in the third… Then head home for Thursdays game and pick things back up again…

    Go Oilers!!

  • Drill Bit #97

    I know I’m a bit bitter and twisted right now, but can Lardo Boy Hrudley even try to hide his glee………………. Obviously the night has been a disaster, but for someone who supposedly played this game at a highly competitive level you’d hope he might even try to be somewhat impartial or constructive he should just ………..

    Regroup boys, get some push back in the 3rd, then put it the rear view mirror. Give some payback in game 5! GO OILERS!!!

    • Anton CP

      Scores means little but it would be nice to see that the Oilers can do some pushbacks instead of just letting the Sharks getting all the momentum heading back to Edmonton.

  • slats-west

    Anyone else notice how the Sharks are running picks down low on each of the last 3 goals, Marleau on Larsson, Ward on Nurse and Burns on Larsson. On goal #3 they had 4 picks in a row.

  • Anton CP

    Well, so much for the push back. Considering that all the worst players for the Oilers tonight are all their blueliners that guess it is no surprise that Sharks can just scoring at will.

  • Moops

    This is all refs. 100%. We’ve been punished for playing hard and they get away with everything. After the 3-0 goal, the rest is irrelevant. If this crew hasn’t ref’d their last game we all know why. Get ready for another lockout…

    • Not a First Tier Fan

      The officiating is a joke as usual… The call on Kassian at the end of the first was a joke. The call in McDavid to out them down on a 5-3 a joke.

      But you can’t hang this one on the refs. One team came to play today. Unfortunately it wasn’t ours. All the good things they were doing the last two games got thrown out the window driving in to the arena tonight.
      Refs might have provided the rope but the Oilers hung themselves. McLellan better bag-skate these arseholes tomorrow and remind them that the series isn’t over till they win four.

      Thursday will be different. Bank on it.

  • Moops

    It’s easy for them to make calls now because it doesn’t matter. It’s just more proof of the corruption; they’re making it appear even. It’s also a de-escalation tactic. Pussies.

    • Oil drop

      The oilers did not come out hard tonight. Any hope of them switching it up and playing for a comeback was gone with the ppg on the 5 on 3. Funny thing is pavelski did the exact thing to mcdavid seconds before macdavid got his penalty. The refs did throw a few token powe plays at the oilers but to little to late.
      as bar as the refs were tonight this is on the players.

      That said I’d like to see McClelland come out for his press conference with a check for 10k and show the media then blast the refs

  • Hemmercules

    Tough one. Regroup at home. They looked like they were slow and reluctant right out of the gate. That spear by Drai was pretty gross, never like to see that. Hope to never see him do that Marchand type crap ever again.

  • paul wodehouse

    …jus the fact that i’m unhappy with the results a couple days ago now gives me a chance to trash this site…aaahgain… recently I saw the word “folk” and damned if I know what that word “folk” or was it “foke” rhymes with. it’s NOT ORANGE that’s for foken sure! …firstly>I (and I only speak for myself because I could care less for the rest of y’all) really want comment reference numbers again to distinguish what page i’m on again 1to50 please…sick of getting lost navigating this thing …that’s not a bad thing for a blog type website is it? …the old site was trying to put 15 pounds into a 10 pound bag …script issues…to put it mildly…made me go nuts …someone advises to turn this off or that on in your settings for the site to function without breaking open the razor blades…that all SEEMS to have left as I have not had ANY script warning boxes on the slowest forever freezing website in sports blog history… geezus the part where we were told to behave our self and imagine that our mother was looking over our shoulder while typing at your cute blog in the “blazement” …this site now …it’s like …not liked… I know it’s going to get better and better BUT …now? it’s the absence of comfort for me … the old site had features and I’m of the mind that y’all ask for a REAL suggestion box …nerds and ‘puter know it alls should be refining what’s here…place is like obamacare…not to mention…when… at this most important point the franchise history is being cheated ( some say hijacked ) by technology…the few things that would bring it back to a “semblance” of that old site …cozy again …when it was at it’s best-ish… when the team was at it’s worst and we were so busy complaining about MacT and Kevin …fighting amongst each other…it was great fun …there was nothing wrong with being an angry Oiler fan… we didn’t draft great …Seguin would still be here…and that Russian!!! still though there are last year players playing their last games with an oil drop on’em …more trades and tweaks to win a Cup … cuz they are y’know …going to win a Stanley Cup … yo it still says this site is funded by The Government of Canada…did we spend all the money the thieving Liberals gave us(you)…and so now to close…on the night after and Electric Avenue gutters are still spotted with the puke of their fan base …I recall saying the Calgarys peaked too soon with their streak…Elliot wasn’t the answer and damned that they have a great little player named Johnny Foking Hockey…they get swept …squee