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Photo Credit: © Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 45.0: Wandering the desert (7pm MST, SNW)

My friends, we’re only hours away from what will likely be one of the most anticipated games of the season. Who’s excited? Anybody? Alrighty then

If ever there was a game that the Oilers absolutely have to win it’s this one. On paper, this should play out with the Oilers trouncing the Coyotes but nothing on paper seems to make sense anymore. Frankly, this season feels like we’re living in a bizarro world where up is down, night is day, hot is cold, and expansion teams are challenging for the Stanley Cup. I don’t know what kind of cruel joke the Hockey Gods are playing on us, but here we are, wasting our lives in treading water in dark pit of our tears. Excuse me while I light myself on fire to brighten up the mood a little bit.

On the bright side, the Coyotes are so bad that it’s almost impressive, and there is absolutely no reason that this night shouldn’t end with two points for the Oilers. That said, the Edmonton Oilers are about as consistent as the beet poos I’m having, and that ‘who knows what’s going to happen’ existence means that this game could go well or it could be a mess. Those inconsistencies are a major problem that doesn’t seem to have an answer, and it’s costing them points all over the place. At this point, would it really be surprising if the Oilers found a way to lose to the Coyotes? Would you bet on it?

The reality for the Oilers is that tonight’s game will be decided by whether Jekyll or Hyde shows up and for how long. Will we get the team that bulled their way to a four-game winning streak leading into the Christmas break, the one that’s been outscored by a margin of 23-4 over their last six games, or both? At this point in the season, it’s disheartening that we’re still having to ask that question. I’ve written about it a lot over past couple weeks, but the Oilers need to find a way to put in a full 60 minutes worth of effort if they plan on winning this hockey game. If they don’t, the machetes around here will be sharpened, drawn, and looking for vengeance.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

  • The Oilers have allowed the first goal of the game 27 times this season. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that spotting the other team an early lead is a recipe for disaster. To make matters worse, they’ve also allowed themselves to get down by two goals in each of the first three games on this road trip, a trend that has to stop and has to stop right now.
  • I’m 18 cans of beets into my #SacrificeFor500 bet and I don’t know if I can handle the 19th coming at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes. It’s fun to talk to you guys every time I have to do a #BeetCast but it’s not something that I want to do this often.
  • With the Oilers working through the back nine and the trade deadline approaching, we’re only weeks away from seeing what Peter Chiarelli’s will be for selling assets. For me, I’ll be watching to see which Oilers play out the string like they actually care. If nothing else, we’re going to find out who wants to be here and who’s going to mail it in until summer rolls around and that could go a ways into showing who stays and who goes. According to NHLNumbers, the Oilers have five guys that will be UFAs come July, and it will be up to management to collect assets for them.
  • Finally, the Oilers are playing against a team that they’re beating in goal differential! The Oilers’ -24 (119 GF, 143 GA) looks like an actual accomplishment in comparison to the Coyotes’ -52 (98 GF, 150 GA). Read em and weep, Coyotes.
  • Connor McDavid is currently sitting at 196 points through 171 NHL games played. That pace puts the captain into some pretty elite company as only three other active players have gotten to 200 points faster – Crosby (142GP), Ovechkin (165GP), and Malkin (166GP). Can we get a four-point McNight against the Coyotes? It’s possible.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Maroon-McDavid-Drasaitl
Lucic-RNH-Puljujarvi
Khaira-Strome-Cammalleri
Caggiula-Letestu-Kassian

Nurse-Larsson
Klefbom-Benning
Sekera-Russell

Talbot

According to Jack Michaels, the Oilers went with the same line combos at practice yesterday, so that is what’s showing above. If anything changes, I’ll be sure to update as news comes out. Seeing as they actually played a solid 40 minutes against the Predators, it makes sense that Todd McLellan would go back to the same group.

Coyotes

Perlini-Stephan-Rieder
Keller-Domi-Fischer
Archibald-Dvorak-Panik
Martinook-Cousins-Hamilton

Ekman-Larsson-Demers
Chychrun-Goligoski
Connauton-Schenn

Raanta

Coyotes lineup (subject to change) is courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Puck Prose:

The Arizona Coyotes can still salvage this season. Not in the making the playoff way – that dream is long dead. No, this season can still be a net positive for the Coyotes, and reward them with massive team change.

First, the offseason moves that the Coyotes made in 2017 will pay off for the rest of the time those players are around. Maybe they don’t fit into the assigned roles, but they do fit on the team. Plus, there’s the opportunity to draft a true superstar for the first time. Also, the team can sell off pieces and get even more draft picks.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers finally break the curse, open the floodgates, score more than one goal in regulation, and win this game 3-2 in regulation.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The highlight from January so far was that the Oilers got an influx of Vitamin D after spending Wednesday afternoon golfing in the sun. Peter Chiarelli then blamed the sun for burning some of the guys.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oliver Ekman-Larsson heads over to Connor McDavid and asks him how he’s dealing with another wasted season. The two compare notes, wish each other well, and plan to come up with a secret handshake after the final buzzer sounds.

GDB BROUGHT TO YOU BY SHERBROOKE LIQUOR

Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 01/12/2018 – 11:00am MST