After losing back-to-back games in spectacular fashion this past week, the Oilers are back at it tonight against a soaring Nashville Predators team. Will we be staring down the barrel of another horrific hockey game, or will the boys show up and play to their potential? My friends, it’s game day.
After getting killed in the first two games of this road trip, I hope the Oilers did some soul searching to try and figure out what they need to do to right the ship, or whatever that means at this point. The season is lost, the cavalry isn’t coming, and we’re about to see which of these guys have enough fire within themselves to play out the stretch. The last time these two teams met, the Oilers actually performed reasonably well despite getting shelled on the scoreboard and getting shut out by another backup. Yes, they lost the game but at least the effort was there, something that hasn’t happened much in 2018. I hate to be happy about solid efforts but that’s where we’re at. Heading into tonight’s game, the big question, as always, is whether or not the Oilers will muster up an effort that is even in the ballpark of being acceptable.
With three games to go until the Oilers get their bye week, Oilers fans are still left wondering which team is going to show up on a game by game basis. Are we going to get the team that laid a beatdown on Montreal right before the Christmas break, or are we going to see the team that’s been outscored by a 20-3 margin over their past five games? It can’t be overstated how different those teams are despite being comprised of the exact same human beings, and the differences between them are nothing short of alarming. How can they be so inconsistent? If the Oilers have any hopes of finishing this road trip on a high note, they’re going to have to give a full 60 minutes worth of effort and they’re going to have to at least pretend like they care about what’s going on here. Is that really too much to ask?
NUMBERS TO KNOW…
- I said it above but I’m going to say it again — the Oilers have been outscored by a 20-3 margin over their last five games. Think about that for a second. This isn’t some PeeWee hockey tournament where your coach those it was a good idea to bump your team up a level, this is the NHL. This is the best hockey league on the planet and the Oilers were only able to score three times in 300 regulation minutes played? Really?
- Coming into tonight’s game, the Nashville Predators haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games and have had some games where they didn’t look like the team that got to the Stanley Cup Finals. That said, when the Preds also had some games in this most recent stretch where they’ve been dominant, so here’s hoping the Oilers can catch them on an off night.
- Regardless of the results, one of the things the Oilers were doing well was generating shots on net. In fact, in terms of shot metrics, Edmonton was sitting in a top three spot for the entire season. My point? Even the shot metrics are starting to slip as the wheels continue to fall off. The Oilers have slipped into 5th place in terms of CF% and their shooting% has also slipped to 6.74% which lands them in 26th place league wide. That’s a big problem. When you’re struggling with a low shooting% and you’re not generating many shot attempts, then you’re taking a long walk down the short path to a bad time.
- Do I have to talk about the special teams again? I don’t want to. They’re annoying to me at this point. Alright, real quick. One of the weirdest stats on the planet is the difference between how the penalty kill performs on the road versus how it performs at home. On the road, the PK is ranked 3rd in the NHL with an 86.1% kill rate. At home, the PK is historically bad with a 55.4% success rate. How does that even happen?
- The Oilers are currently nine points out of a Wildcard spot with five teams standing in their way. Happy day.
According to Twitter, the Oilers aren’t making many changes tonight but there are a couple. Drake Caggiula draws back into the lineup for Yohann Auvitu and Andrej Sekera will lineup with Kris Russell as his partner. Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, I assume that Cam Talbot will be back between the pipes and looking to rebound after a couple of tough starts over the weekend.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
It doesn’t seem like this is a team that can string together enough wins to climb the standings. They sit at the bottom of the Western Conference with the Arizona Coyotes and the Vancouver Canucks. It makes you wonder if head coach Todd McLellan is on the hot seat.
Just like every other struggling team that comes to Nashville, the Predators should be wary of their opponent and be prepared to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. Without sounding too much like what I imagine Coach Laviolette sounds like pre-game, the Predators should definitely expect that Edmonton will be looking to nab a win in an effort to turn their season around.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers come out firing from the opening puck drop, but can’t beat Rinne in the first period. The Predators take advantage of that last lack of finish, score the first goal, and walk away with a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Nashville crowd has a lot more fun at games than Oilers fans do. Their in-game experience is far superior to what happens at Rogers Place and management doesn’t care whatsoever.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: P.K. Subban, feeling bad about the way the Oilers have done this season, sets up a charity for victims of Oilers related sadness. He donates $10 million to the cause.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 01/09/2018 – 12:00pm MST