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Photo Credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 72.0: Fun in the sun Part Deux (3pm MST, SNW)

After kicking off their road trip with a 4-2 win over the Panthers yesterday, the Oilers get back at it right away with another matinee against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As far as back-to-back sets go, this is a tough weekend for the Oilers as they had to go up against not one but two tough opponents from Florida (it’s weird saying that). Heading into Tampa, all I can hope is that the Oilers have some energy left in the tank after yesterday’s big comeback win. The Lightning are a very good hockey team that can absolutely shred the Oilers if they play sloppy, and in the second game in as many days that is a real concern. That said, the Lightning are in the same boat and could actually be in worse shape since they played last night against the Bruins which means even less rest between games. Needless to say, finding their legs early and getting off to a good start could be the advantage for either team. Point being, Edmonton needs to come out firing.

In their last meeting, the Oilers absolutely pummelled the Lightning back at Rogers Place by a score of 6-2 with the night being capped off by a Connor McHat Trick. That was easily one of the best games of the season and another example of the weird ups and downs that have turned this year into some weird Shakesperian tragedy. When the Oilers play well, they look like a team that should be making the playoffs rather easily, but when they’re bad you wonder how the hell you can be watching a team that had 103 points last season. It’s enough to drive you crazy sometimes. Although, on the other hand, the fact that we don’t really know which Oilers team will show on a daily basis has certainly eliminated any predictability of how things will go and that’s a good thing if you’re really into surprises.

To beat the Lightning again, the Oilers are going to have to be sharp, and they’re going to have to take advantage of the chances that they get when they get them. The Lightning don’t give up a whole lot of goals but they can score a ton, so Edmonton will not only need to defend well and get some saves but they’ll also need to land some counterpunches whenever they get an opening. Since both teams played yesterday, there could be some fatigue that creeps into their decision making which could make for a buffet of avoidable turnovers, or maybe we see two teams that are ready to play and have their gameplans locked in. Regardless of what happens, the Oilers have a shot at a four-point weekend if they can play the way we know they can. It just depends on who shows up — Jekyll or Hyde.

The beauty of sports is that either team can win on any given Sunday. Here’s hoping that on this Sunday that the winning team is wearing white.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

  • Coming into today’s game, the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the league in goals with 257 which seems like a gargantuan total compared to the Oilers’ 200. On the other side of the puck, the Lightning hold the edge there too as they have only allowed 201 goals against compared to the Oilers 228.
  • Check this out… The Oilers have only allowed four power play goals in 47 opportunities against over their last 16 games, and their PK average is still only 75.3% (61.9% at home will do that). On the bright side, the Oilers’ PK has been really good lately and that improvement has seen them climb out of the league’s basement and into 27th place overall. Not great, but better. We’ll take it.
  • On the other side, Tampa Bay’s PK isn’t much better than the Oilers at only 76.3% (75.0% at home) which gives an Edmonton a glimmer of hope to get something done on their lacklustre power play. But for as ‘meh’ as Tampa’s PK is, their power play is exceptional. They’re ranked second in the NHL on the man advantage and are cruising along at a 24.0% success rate. Meanwhile, Edmonton’s power play has fallen off a cliff and into dead last in the NHL with a horrible 14.8% success rate. There have been a lot of things that have gone wrong for the Oilers this season and none are bigger than the special teams.
  • Looking at the fancies over at Corsica, the Oilers are Lightning are actually right alongside each other in terms of CF%. Edmonton’s 51.33% ranks 10th in the league while the Lightning’s 51.56% has them in seventh. So if the shot attempts are roughly similar, where are we seeing the difference? Look no further than the shooting%. As a team, Tampa Bay is first in the NHL with a 10.86% in all situations whereas the Oilers are two+ percentage points lower at 8.17%.
  • Connor McDavid kept up his heater yesterday with another three-point effort (1G, 2A) which now gives him 12 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in his last 14 games. Coming into game’s head-to-head matchup with Kucherov, McDavid is tied for second in league scoring with 89 points (34G, 55A).
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five points (3G, 2A) in his last four games as he continues to build chemistry with Connor McDavid. So far, the pair has been electric together and, if this level of production continues, I can’t see any reason to split them up anytime soon or ever again for that matter.
  • Since being taken off McDavid’s wing, Leon Draisaitl has only two points (1G, 1A) in those four games. The Oilers need him to be able to produce away from Connor and I’m hoping that we’ll start to see more of that today. Leon’s line has been getting some chances, but they’ve also been giving up a truckload of free passes going the other way.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins-McDavid-Rattie
Lucic-Draisaitl-Slepyshev
Cammalleri-Strome-Puljujarvi
Caggiula-Khaira-Slepyshev

Nurse-Larsson
Klefbom-Bear
Sekera-Benning

Montoya

No word yet if Pontus Aberg or Kris Russell will be back in the lineup so I’m just running with the same combos that closed out the win yesterday against the Panthers, save for Zack Kassian coming out with an injury. There’s a good chance that one or both of those guys will be back in the lineup but we’ll have to wait and see what happens. As always, I’ll make sure to update as news comes out.

Lightning

Miller-Stamkos-Kucherov
Gourde-Point-Johnson
Erne-Cirelli-Killorn
Kunitz-Paquette-Callahan

Hedman-Stralman
McDonagh-Girardi
Sergachev-Sustr

Budaj

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Raw Charge:

Overall, this is a team playing very well. But we do need to address one glaring area of weakness: the goaltending. In the “Results” section, we find one orange dot way into the “bad” area. That represents how the goaltending has performed compared to what would be expected based on how dangerous the shots allowed have been. The gray dot is in a bad spot and the orange in a worse one meaning that the goaltending has been getting progressively worse over the last 20 games.

Andrei Vasilevskiy has said directly that he’s tired. And it would be easy to look at these declining results and proclaim that he’s played too many games and the coaches should all be ashamed of themselves for overworking him. But as Matt Esteves pointed out in his recent article, Vasilevskiy’s workload is at the high end for a starter but not into an obviously unreasonable range. Goaltending results are also notoriously fickle in small samples so I’m not even comfortable saying that this recent run of poor results is anything more than bad luck.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: With both teams playing yesterday there were mistakes made on both sides that result in goals. In the end, the Lightning make more mistakes than the Oilers and the good guys finish off a perfect weekend with a 3-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid continues his pursuit of Kucherov at the top of the NHL scoring race with another two-point game. Kucherov also gets on the scoresheet but only registers a single point.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Getting another start between the pipes means another new bucket for goaltender, Al Montoya. Montoya leads the league in New Buckets/60 and will fight tooth and nail to make sure he remains on top of the leaderboard.

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: Edmonton Oilers, Official Game Page, 13/18/2018 – 10:00 am MST

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    This is going to be a big test for the team. It is absolutely necessary for them to play a smart brand of hockey. In Leon’s defence, he’s played with wingers who are seriously snakebitten right now. Here’s hoping for more McPoints tonight. DONT LET KUCHEROV GET ON THE BOARD

    • TruthHurts98

      I wish we could put Looch on waivers or somehow get rid of him. Can’t stand him (as a player not as a person). The play dies on his stick, he’s slow makes dumb plays and won’t fight or stand up for his teammates. Khaira is a better player but gets 4th line duty. All the more reason to keep the Nuge. Look at how bad the depth scoring is on the wings especially on LW. Pouliot is being payed to play in Buffalo and could have fit in better than any other LW. Pitlick should have been kept. If they trade Nuge I will be fuming. PC needs to go immediately following the conclusion of the final game before he can ruin this team further. On a good note, it’s sure fun watching Connor do his magic. And playing with the Nuge makes it even better. #keepNugeforever

      • Ol_OneNut

        You and others need to accept the fact that Looch isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s here for five more years with a no move clause until the second last year. So how about trying to be positive about the situation? If not, maybe stop whining about him.

        • TruthHurts98

          One Ball: Say goodbye to Nuge then to make room for Looch’s salary and lack of production. Tell yourself you’re a real fan too because somehow cheering for teams that continue to lose due to horrible moves earns yourself a medal of true fanship. But these generation of faster players is leaving him way behind. Waiving him is an option. Problem is no team would take him. So next solution is getting rid of PC, hiring a competent GM and talking another GM into a trade to hit their salary floor. It’s going to take a while to dig out of PC’s awful mess. But pat yourself on the back and step in line with the Good Ole Boy’s club and believe everything they say. And don’t ever think for yourself.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        I’m with Ol_OneNut, Lucic isn’t going anywhere, so stop whining about it. Right now, Lucic’s confidence is at rock bottom. He’s not in the right mindset and that’s affecting his play. Last season, he wasn’t handling the puck like a live grenade and he came just as advertised. Why? Because he was playing with confidence and swagger. Bear with him for the rest of the season, and hope he can find his confidence in the off-season.

        • TruthHurts98

          Ok so reward him because his salary is bad in favor of players that deserve to play more. Got it. And hope he magically comes out of it. Just like we all hoped the Oilers would be anything but a bottom feeder during the DOD 1.0. Looch > Nuge. Gotta make room the boat anchor so say goodbye to one of our most likable players that can actually skate and play with Connor. SMH

          • oilerjed

            Why do you think that they need to move Nuge because of Looch? The oil have the cap space for next year to sign any RFAs they decide to keep and hopefully find some good bargains for one or two veteran wingers. The biggest expense that they could have is a good RD man. It will be tight but is still doable.

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        I’m with Ol_OneNut, Lucic isn’t going anywhere, so stop whining about it. Right now, Lucic’s confidence is at rock bottom. He’s not in the right mindset and that’s affecting his play. Last season, he wasn’t handling the puck like a live grenade and he came just as advertised. Why? Because he was playing with confidence and swagger. Bear with him for the rest of the season, and hope he can find his confidence in the off-season. And it would probably help to send him a positive tweet, like I just did.

      • toprightcorner

        You are 100% wrong when you say Looch doesn’t try to fight anyone. Nobody wants to fight him. In the players vote, he was voted the 2nd toughest player in the league. Coaches know that when he has a fight, he plays better, so they don’t want their guys dropping their gloves with him and Looch doesn’t want any instigator penalties. He is stuck in a tough spot. Yes, his play has been terrible this year but I have not seen him quit and he still plays hard, drives the net and hits people.

        He needs a skills coach this summer to help his passing and making quick passes without carrying the puck. He needs to get to his spots half a second faster. He is always half a second late and that costs him points. That has less to do with speed and more to do with anticipation.

        • RJ

          He’s a power forward that’s trying to play a perimeter game this year and he lacks the skill to play a perimeter game.

          He can work with a skills coach but if he can’t even make a pass regularly now, how much improvement is reasonable to expect?

          If he has a back injury like I’ve read elsewhere, then that’s unfortunate but not unexpected as a power forward ages.

          People can complain all they want. It’s exhibit A on why Chia should be fired.

        • lucky

          He still needs to be a deterrent. He needs to challenge guys and force issues. If guys won’t drop, it’s still a win. Remember his sound bite when he arrived, that nobody was afraid to play the Oilers? Now he seems happy to let JJ take care of business. Not impressive.

  • Spydyr

    Funny how Nuge shines with Connor and Dria struggles with the craptasic wingers Nuge has been saddled with since Hall left.

    Anyone that understands hockey knows Nuge should stay but we are talking about the “Oilers Braintrust” here.

  • lee

    When you give your center Lucic on the left wing, statistically Dria is only playing with 2 players.
    Loyalty from the coach has cost this team plenty of times this season.
    Also have noticed that RNH’s line that usually plays on the second P.P does better and is more dangerous.
    McDavid’s line on the P.P pass the puck way too much.

  • Heschultzhescores

    There has been one consistant stat this year, whom ever plays with McDavid looks like a better player than without. Imagine if McD got to play with another McD. Teams defensive zones would need to be double zambonied and the driver would need to carry a pooper scooper along the way as well.

  • Going into today’s game, Oilers are 5 – 4 – 1 in their last ten games.
    That’s not bad at all, but the concern here is winning now comes at the wrong time. I’m not talking about tanking for a better position at the draft. Winning now tells management change is not needed during the off season. What happened earlier in the year is now fixed and nothing needs to change.
    Same same for next year.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    I hope the Nuge for Hoffman rumours are false. Unless it’s Hoffman, plus, plus. Nuge has shown he’s a better LW (small sample size) AND he plays center AND is younger AND has a better nickname. Please don’t trade The Nuge for The Hoff.

  • toprightcorner

    Connor is so focused on winning the Art Ross right now, he is more amped for this game against the leader in Kucherov, than any game in his career and expect him to put on a display for the ages. He doesn’t get the hat trick like last time, but scores 2 with a 4 point night and leaves Tampa tied for the scoring lead.

    • Not McDavid's Fault

      Tampa has last change they just put there best defensive players out there and shut that line down. Then they put Kucherov out against are other lines to feast on the easy points as he increases his lead in the race.

  • Randaman

    You know, for all you Puljujarvi fans out there that say he has size and speed, his puck retrieval skills are non existent. He won’t hit at all. He plays like Eberle at 6’3”? Seriously? Watch Calgary and tell me Tkachuk isn’t better. You’d be lying if you didn’t think so. Our management & scouts are morons

    • Jordan88

      You mean that Calgary that is 4-0 vs Vegas right now?

      The same calgary that has a 4th pick in this years draft.

      A team that didn’t protect their 1st for harmonic from the lottery.

      JP is only 19 and hasn’t even played a full season. Give him a chance. Barkov was just like him in his early years.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Maybe. However, I don’t really think it’s a simple, either/or situation. Both guys have potential, Tkachuk is clearly the better NHLer this season. Does that mean Jesse is a bust? That is just foolish. Want to talk about morons? What about fans who expect a 19y/o kid to be dominant in the NHL? Nearly all experts had JP ranked #3 at the draft. Picking JP instead of Tkachuk (or some other kid) does not come anywhere close to a moronic move.

      • Randaman

        What does that say about all the so called experts? They always go the popular route. Can’t stick my neck out and be a game changer. And by the way, Tkachuk has been the better NHL’r this year and last and will be better next year. JP is a floater that plays on the outside like Eberle did and diesn’t Have half the skill the so called experts said he did.

    • Summercrush

      Tkchuck is better but I also think Puljujarvi will be a good player however he just isn’t there yet. He should still be in the AHL. Tkachuck learned a lot from his dad and came into NHL with an identity of what kind of player he was going to be and he also played with top players in Juniors( Mariner and Davorak). Puljujarvi still has a lot of work to do.

    • Anton CP

      The bigger issue is not that Tkachuk is better but Puljujarvi due to the language barrier that he is adapting North America much slower than Tkachuk would. I don’t know how often that Puljujarvi has play on the same line as Draisaitl but the skill set between the two should help out each others.

      • Randaman

        Sorry but the talent level on this Oiler team is not as high as most think. PC has shredded that. Connor is the only player I would she’ll out over $200 to see play. If they trade Nuge and keep duds like Benning, Caggiula & Puljujarvi, I’ll be all out of jerseys except for #97. What a waste of Connor’s talents.

        • GK1980

          True, talent level is not preferential throughout the lineup like it used to be. Jack and Bob mentioned the team tends to push drai or McDavid to carry the puck into the zone. This is obviously predictable and needs to change.

  • Summercrush

    Lucic-Leon-Slepyshev
    Is this a joke?
    Lucic-Rattie-Slepyshev in the top 6, terrible!
    Hopefully in 2-3 years Yams, Puljujarvi and Benson can play in the NHL.

  • camdog

    My worry with JP is he remends me a lot of Magnus Paajarvi. It’s still early in his career, but there is no guarantee. Props to the Islanders for getting a lottery pick for a d-man not much better than Russell.

    • Not McDavid's Fault

      Pool party still has a chance to develop into a great player. Also you could go back to any draft and probably half the players draft position would change. Hindsight is wonderful it’s like everyone saying we should have drafted Bazral with the 16 but if we use hindsight he would have been a too then pick.