GDB 43.0: Improve at Home

Cam

(photoshop: @NewfieMikey)

The Oilers have nine home victories, the fewest of any Western Conference playoff team. The good news is their 12 road victories are the most in the Western Conference. But as they begin a six-game home stand tonight against the San Jose Sharks, the Oilers are focused on improving their record in the Ice District.

The Oilers have had home success against Western Conference opponents, going 6-2-2, and as they enter the second half of the season divisional games become even more important. The Oilers are 3-1-1 at home versus the Pacfic, with victories over Calgary, Los Angeles and Anaheim, an OT loss to Vancouver and a regulation loss to Arizona.

They host the Sharks for the first time this season tonight, and first place is on the line. That is not a misprint. A game in Edmonton, in January, for first place in the division. My, how times have changed, Oilersnation.

The Sharks and Anaheim Ducks have 50 points while the Oilers are one back with 49. These teams battled on December 23rd in San Jose with the Sharks winning 3-2 in OT. Much of the chatter from the Oilers dressing room this morning focused on them becoming a better home team. They need better starts, and they need to attack the Sharks more than they did 18 days ago.

The Oilers had a season high six PP chances in San Jose, but their PP only generated five shots in 12 minutes of PP time.

The Oilers are 14-2-3 when they score a PP goal, and they are 9-12-4 when they don’t. The Sharks are 14-5-0 when they score a PP goal and 10-9-2 when their PP shoots blanks.

Scoring on the PP has lead to much more success for both teams, where as both have been able to overcome allowing a PP marker. Edmonton is 8-7-2 when they surrender a powerplay goal, while San Jose is also 8-7-2. 

Unlike past seasons, these teams are evenly matched.

The Oilers are 10th in GF/G at 2.81, the Sharks are 19th at 2.58.
San Jose is 4th in GA/G at 2.25 and Edmonton sits 13th at 2.62.
Edmonton’s PP is 10th at 21.2% and San Jose is 21st at 16.4%.
The Sharks PK is 11th at 83% while the Oilers are 19th at 80.6%.
The Oilers are +5 in 5×5 GF/GA ratio, while the Sharks are +7.

The one obvious difference is shots against. Cam Talbot, 37, and Martin Jones, 35, have started the most games in the NHL, but Talbot has faced 209 more shots. The Sharks surrender the second fewest shots per game, 26.8, and the Oilers will need to protect the puck better tonight than they did in San Jose, maintain possession and generate more shots and chances against Jones.

LINEUP

Oilers

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Jordan Eberle was back with RNH and Lucic today, while Kassian slid down with Caggiula and Pouliot. Slepyshev was the extra forward.

Brandon Davidson still isn’t ready so it’ll be the same D pairs as last game, and Talbot starts.

Sharks

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The Sharks get a big boost with the return of Olympian Marc-Edouard Vlasic. He’s missed a few games with fractures in his face.

QUICK HITS

  • Unlike most West teams the Sharks have dominated the Eastern conference, 15-6-0, but they are only 9-8-2 versus the West. They are 2-2 versus the Ducks, 1-1-1 versus the Coyotes, 2-1-1 versus the Kings, 1-1 versus the Flames and 1-0 versus Edmonton. The Sharks are a team the Oilers can beat if they play well.
  • Joe Thornton needs 12 assists to reach 1000 in his career and he’ll become only the 13th player in NHL history to accomplish that amazing feat. Wayne Gretzky (1963), Ron Francis (1249), Mark Messier (1193), Ray Bourque (1169), Jaromir Jagr (1137), Paul Coffey (1135), Adam Oates (1079), Steve Yzerman (1063), Gordie Howe (1049), Marcel Dionne (1040), Mario Lemieux (1033) and Joe Sakic (1016) are the others.

    Thornton is a guaranteed Hall of Fame player, and if he plays another three seasons (he’s looking for a three-year deal from the Sharks), he should reach 1100 assists.

  • Brent Burns has 15 goals and 39 points. The rest of the Sharks defence has 11 goals and 48 points. He is a such a dynamic player and the Oilers must be aware of him in all three zones.
  • Not surprisingly Jonas Gustavsson cleared waivers. He’ll be the backup tonight, while Laurent Brossoit starts in the AHL. McLellan said a decision will be made after the game. I think we can assume that means Brossoit comes up and Gustavsson goes down.
  • Martin Jones got the nod in goal over Cam Talbot for the All-Star team. You could make a strong argument Talbot deserves it more, facing 209 more shots and having a better SV%, .920 to .917. It sucks for Talbot, but it likely is good for the Oilers with Talbot getting more rest over All-Star weekend. Mike Smith was the other goalie. Arizona needed someone to represent them and it was Smith.
  • I think the NHL should strongly consider going with the best eleven players from each division, and not worry about a representative from each team. The All-Star game result means little, the game is just for fun, but the best players should be in it, not one from each team. I’ve never liked the rule and with Vegas entering the league next year it will make having a Vegas player on the team even more ridiculous.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Fear the Fin

It’s hard to figure out exactly what the best lines are for Edmonton because Todd McLellan likes to blend lines in Alberta just as much as he did in San Jose. Maroon has spend time with Connor McDavid, Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl — sometimes with two of the aforementioned three. And Edmonton can’t resist sending Milan Lucic out on the top line with McDavid, despite his skillset being better suited to a third-line role.

That gives San Jose an advantage, of course. McDavid took the Sharks’ lunch money in their last meeting by embarrassing Joe Thornton and company with his speed, but keeping a hit-first player like Lucic out there helps mitigate the damage. That might change with Timo Meier on the ice, but McDavid is going to be the best player in the NHL before his career is over, so expect the Sharks to take the L while he’s on the ice.

TONIGHT

GDB

(photoshop: @TomKostiuk)

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win their 10th home game of the season and hand the Sharks their 10th regulation road loss. Oilers win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Thornton picks up an assist. In 55 regular season games versus the Oilers he has 11-50-61. He’s had five three-point games, 16 two-point games and 14 one-point games. He loves playing the Oilers.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mark Letestu has zero goals in eight Tuesday games this year. However, he has 10 career points in 14 games versus the Sharks. He breaks his Tuesday drought with a goal tonight.

Recently by Jason Gregor:       

  • Oilers 1st quarter vs. 2nd quarter
  • Taylor Hall set to face his former team
  • GDB 40.0: Bounce back in Boston
  • GDB 39.0: Striving to break the streak
  • Chiarelli deserves credit: Oilers are more than McDavid 
  • GDB 37.0: King Nothing
  • Sekera, Puljujarvi, Caggiula and a Big Thank You
    • S cottV

      Possession hockey with Burns and Co will be a challenge, but the Oilers need to keep working it, so it stands up to even the best cycle busters.

      Glad we’re making progress at it. The Oilers have been one and doning it for so long, most had accepted it as normal.

    • tileguy

      “And Edmonton can’t resist sending Milan Lucic out on the top line with McDavid, despite his skillset being better suited to a third-line role”

      Well he is half right, Lucic is a second line player in charge of protecting baby Nuge and Ebbs, let’s hope he does his job.

    • Oilcounty88

      This is a game we really need McDavid at his finest. Sharks have a lot of depth at D and I think it’s going to be difficult for the bottom half of the lineup to put up those secondary points.

      Biggest game of the season thus far.

    • dolenator

      Loved the lunch money comment. Its been a long time since a oiler took someone’s lunch money never mind the other team admitting it. Go oilers let’s hope the 3rd line can hold there own.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Pavelski is always a thorn in our sides. I want to see the Oil tackle him at every opportunity, like teams tackle McDavid without penalty. Thornton and Marleau are too old and slow to be a concern but that Pavelski… he is a problem. Of course, the biggest problem will be listening to Remenda.

      Going out on a limb… Oil win 3-2 in regulation.

      • BobbyCanuck

        I do not mind Remenda’s commentaries, he sheds some interesting light on the trials/tribulations/anecdotes of whomever we are playing, we get enough homer news about the Oilers, do not need it for the entire game as well.

        That being said, I discovered the Remenda sweet spot and so can you, this is how it works

        The play by play is a few decibels higher than the colour commentary

        Play with your tv volume, you will find that at a certain volume, you can hear the play-by-play reasonably well, but if you want to hear the colour commentary, you have to strain your ears a bit.

        What happens is that if you do not want to listen to Remenda, you will not be able too as your ears have to really concentrate to hear what he is saying

        Try it out!

        • chickenStew

          Sorry Jay, but something like that is completely useless.

          If you are passionate about change, you have to hit them in the wallet. That is the only language big business speaks.. and Rogers is big business.

          • Total Points

            Last year I sent an e-mail to Rogers about George S.

            I send 2 e-mails last year and 1 e-mail this year regarding a microphone in the post game presser with Todd M.

            Both were changed. Not sure how much my little effort had to do with it but both were changed.

            Even got an e-mail back from the Oilers regarding the microphone.

            They listen to e-mails more than most people think

            • chickenStew

              You’re right. Personal communication is listened to. You are a consumer. One who takes the time to voice your concerns. Mention a sponsor or two and you get their attention teally quickly 🙂

              My point about the petition stands. It isn’t the consumer anymore (in the PR world).
              Easy to sign, easy to ignore. Plus it doesn’t get to the right eyeballs.

            • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

              God I hated George Strompawompapilousousas

              I don’t even care about Remenda the way some people around here do

              But George S would throw me into a rage

    • OldOilerFan

      I gotta say, I get tired of the line blender sometimes. I actually liked Hendricks, Letestu, and Kassian as a line. Sigh. As long as he doesn’t change the top line.

      Let’s go boyz! Second half push starts tonight!

    • Big Jacks Meat

      The Oilers seem to get up for games against the big boys. They need to realize they are now a growing teenager and not the nerdy kid that gets his lunch money taken day in and day out.

      The teenage is getting bigger and tougher and cockier , not a man yet but very close.

      Pay attention Sharks , you are the old withering Dad , [ Like Me ] The kid can kick your butt now if you are not looking.

      Edmonton Oilers- They are coming.

        • SourGrapes

          So, forgive my ignorance but how does that work? Do they recall him for tonight so he can be on the active roster then reassign him to Bakersfield tomorrow? I assume he doesn’t have to clear waivers again as he obviously went unclaimed yesterday.

          I agree with Dinojr – must be awkward to be the “dead man walking”.

          • Jason Gregor

            He was put on waivers and no one put in a claim. The Oilers did those so now when they send him down after the game, or tomorrow, morning they don’t have to wait 24 hours before he clears and they can recall Brossoit immediately.

            Also, being put on waivers doesn’t mean you automatically get sent down. But once you clear waivers the Oilers have 30 days or 10 NHL games before he has to be put on waivers again.

          • dolenator

            I believe he was waved but not sent down so he still remains on the roster. Similar thing happened with lander at the start of the year. He was waved, cleared but never sent down and ended up playing for a while before being actually sent down

    • TruthHurts98

      If they can generate shots and possession like the last 2 games it will be a good game. Yes SJ is better than Ottawa and NJ, but when the Oilers come with passion and grit they are hard to stop. Hope Patty Maroon lights the lamp again!!