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GDB 76.0: Duck a L’Orange (7:30pm MST, SNW)

For the last time this season, the Oilers will face off against the team with the most punchable faces in the NHL. It’s Duck night in Edmonton.

One of the bright sides of the season winding down is that we won’t have to see the Ducks’ punchable faces anymore after tonight’s game. Just seeing their logo on the calendar is enough to make me curse out the refs, leave a salty taste in my mouth and remind us all of the fact that they’re going to the dance while we’re not. Frankly, any Duck success is like another emotional kick to the pills that we just don’t need, ya know? The season has been hard enough without having our enemies do well. Needless to say, a win tonight would go a long way toward making the Nation feel a little bit better heading into another Monday.

To get that win, the Oilers are going to have to make sure that they’re ready to play from the moment the puck drops rather than depending too much on their goaltender to keep them in it until they can get their legs under them. Despite what the 3-2 score might lead you to believe, the Ducks got absolutely slaughtered in Winnipeg on Friday night, and that means they’ll probably be coming into tonight’s game with a fire lit under their asses to along with rested legs. For a tired Oilers team that played a tough game last night, they’ll need to have their game plans dialled in from the moment the puck drops and they’ll need to find the resilience to weather any early storms that are thrown their way without letting the walls cave in.

Despite not having the chance to meet up again in the playoffs, I still expect this to be a heated game between two teams that really don’t like each other. With the Ducks looking to grab every point they can get to improve their playoff seed and the Oilers looking to save some face as they head into the summer, I’d bet Gregor’s money on this game being a physical affair with plenty of after the whistle shenanigans. History would also suggest that this is likely to be a close game and the Oilers will need to get some saves and pay attention to the small details if they plan to come out on top. Here’s hoping that the boys have enough left in the tank to get greasy if need be after last night’s hard-fought win against the Kings.

My friends, it’s game day.

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NUMBERS TO KNOW

  • All three games in the season series between the Oilers and Ducks have been one-goal games, so it’s reasonable to expect another tight one today. Edmonton leads the season series 2-1 and will be looking to close things out for another silver lining award. We’ve reached small victories territory on the year and I will happily take another win against the Ducks.
  • The Edmonton Oilers’ power play is a dreadful 14.3% on the season, something that surely can’t continue into next season. Right?! Anybody? On the flip side, the Ducks aren’t exactly world beaters with the man advantage either but their 22nd ranked PP (18.2% success rate) is something to aspire to for the Oilers. Needless to say, it’s been a weird year.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if Connor McDavid spontaneously combusts at some point soon. The dude is scorching hot and he’s treating the NHL like when an older kid would go on the ice for his little brother’s hockey practice and dangle through everyone like he was Gretzky in his prime. I don’t know what software Connor is running but it’s a few updates beyond what anyone else seems to have. Need proof? How about 23 goals in his last 26 games as the captain is in the hunt for not only the Art Ross Trophy but also the first 40-goal season of his career. His two McGoals from yesterday’s game vaulted him past Kucherov for the NHL scoring race after many thought it could not be done.
  • Of Connor McDavid’s 96 points, 77 of them have come at even strength. Hell, if the Oilers had even a mediocre power play then the McPoints total would probably be up around 120 by now. He is unbelievably dominant at 5-on-5.
  • Since being scratched for two games for who knows what reason, Pontus Aberg has caught fire. In his last three games, he has six points (2G, 4A) and has started to look comfortable playing alongside Leon Draisaitl.
  • The Ducks have earned points in 16 of the last 17 games against the Oilers (11-1-5) dating to December 10th, 2014. In Edmonton, they’re also riding an eight-game point streak with a record of 5-0-3, something that our boys in orange will look to remedy tonight.
  • The Oilers are 14-9-1 against the Pacific Division after last night’s win against the Los Angeles Kings and have outscored their opponents 16-7 on their three-game winning streak. They ruined LA’s visit to Edmonton last night and kicked their playoff hopes in the shins. Can they do something similar tonight against the Ducks?

LINEUPS

Oilers

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

Nurse-Larsson
Russell-Bear
Auvitu-Benning

Talbot

After last night’s win, I can’t imagine that Todd McLellan will change the lines much if at all. I could see a guy like Cammalleri get into the lineup, but I guess we’ll have to wait until a little bit closer to puck drop. As always, I’ll update the lines when news comes out.

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According to Reid Wilkins, Montoya suffered some kind of minor injury that will keep him out of tonight’s game, meaning Cam Talbot will start again. Laurent Brossoit has been recalled on an emergency basis.

Ducks

Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
Cogliano-Kesler-Silfverberg
Ritchie-Henrique-Kase
Chimera-Grant-Kelly

Fowler-Montour
Pettersson-Lindholm
Holzer-Beauchemin

Gibson

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TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Despite having the boys fired up for another game against the Ducks, their tired legs catch up to them and drop this one by a 4-2 score.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Ryan Kesler’s face will remain punchable for 60 minutes and he will also get away with 43 stick infractions on Connor McDavid alone.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Pontus Aberg refuses to be late for any team function ever again. He’s already at Rogers Place, sitting ready at his stall.

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Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Game Page, 13/25/2018 – 10:00 am MST