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Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 80.0: Bring back Wild On (6pm MST, SNW)

In their last road game of the season, the Edmonton Oilers will face the Minnesota Wild and look to wrap up a clean sheet on the season series for the first time since the year 2000. 

Can you believe that we’re already down to the final three games of the season? This morning, I was thinking back to the pre-season and the first game of the year when things looked so promising and we were all filled with hope, and it’s such a bummer to see how things actually played out. Even the most ardent detractors probably wouldn’t have seen this season coming, and that’s what makes this so tough to swallow. I mean, to be 19 points out of a playoff spot in the last week of the season when Connor McDavid is running away with the NHL points race for the second straight season? Come on.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Oilers have lost their last four and really seem to be limping their way into the finish line. Despite all four of those games being reasonably close on the scoreboard, the Oilers were extremely porous in their own end and couldn’t get the saves they needed, which really made for an awful week of hockey. They gave up leads, fell behind early, let the wheels fall off in the third period and really seemed to be finding new and creative ways to lose hockey games. But that’s the way the year has gone, hasn’t it? One step forward, two steps back.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

  • Historically, games against the Minnesota Wild have not gone well for the Oilers. The Wild lead the historical head-to-head match up by a sizable margin with a 50-27-10 record (26-14-3 at home). That said, the Oilers have won both games in the season series which sets them up for a series sweep, which would be the first time that’s happened since the Wild’s inaugural season. Minnesota’s 50 wins against the Oilers are its most against any team.
  • I don’t think I need to tell any of you that Connor McDavid has been blazing hot over the last half of the season. In March, McDavid went supernova and put up a ridiculous 28 points (13G, 15A) in 16 games, which propelled him to the top of the NHL scoring race. Coming into tonight’s game, McDavid has a six-point lead over the second place Kucherov as he looks poised to win his second straight Art Ross Trophy.
  • Cam Talbot has a 4-4-1 record with a 2.46 GAA and a .917 save% in nine career starts versus the Wild, and the Oilers will need his numbers to look more like that than what they’ve gotten from him lately. Talbot will get the start tonight after getting the hook on Saturday night in Calgary after he allowed three goals on seven shots.
  • Mike Cammalleri is the Oilers’ all-time scoring leader versus the Minnesota Wild, with 20 points (8G, 12A) in 35 career games. After scoring his first goal in eons against the Flames on Saturday night, maybe Camo Larry could be heating up! *sarcasm font*
  • Eric Staal’s amazing comeback season continues as he has once again reached the 40-goal plateau — the first time he’s done it since 2008-09. This is Staal’s third career 40-goal season and could be even more impressive than his first two when you consider that he only had 33 total points two seasons ago.
  • We’ve talked about the special teams a lot this year and none of it has really been positive. While the penalty kill has been much better over the past couple of months, the power play continues to struggle. The Oilers’ 14.3% success rate with the man advantage slots them in dead last in the NHL and it’s hard not to imagine a few more wins being up on the board had the PP even been middle of the road.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Rattie
Lucic-Strome-Puljujarvi
Caggiula-Khaira-Aberg
Slepyshev-Cammalleri-Kassian

Nurse-Larsson
Sekera-Russell
Auvitu-Bear

Talbot

According to Jack Michaels, the Oilers will be running with the same line combos that we saw in Calgary on Saturday night. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury which, after doing some digging around, seems like a groin issue.

Wild

Parise-Koivu-Granlund
Zucker-Staal-Niederreiter
Greenway-Cullen-Coyle
Foligno-Ericksson Ek-Winnik

Brodin-Dumba
Seeler-Prosser
Soucy-Murphy

Dubnyk

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Hockey Wilderness:

The story of tonight will of course be how the Wild responds in its first game since losing its outstanding top defenseman. What can’t get lost in that shuffle, however, is that the Wild badly needs to rack up a couple more victories to close out the season. It plays tonight at home, then goes on the road to face three California-based teams that are all battling for playoff positioning. Minnesota can’t go down to the wire to get itself into the playoffs, so it better figure out a way to win tonight, as things will get a lot more comfortable for this team if it can manage to do so.

This is a gigantic game for the Minnesota Wild, so every player will need to step up to collectively figure out a way to win this one.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Wild are working through some injuries to key players right now and are unable to overcome the hole, paving the way for a 4-2 Oilers victory.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid remains one of the only reasons to watch Oilers games at this point in the season.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Milan Lucic was inspired by his big fight with Tanner Glass on Saturday night and he uses that energy to go out and get his first two-goal game of the season.

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, 4/2/2018 – 12:00 pm MST

  • Oilfaninvan

    It has been such a strange year for the Oilers – how can you even assess this Jekyll and Hyde team with the way they’ve limped to the finish line?? I don’t see them winning any of their remaining games this year…

  • Hemmercules

    Being a meaningless game, I hope Dubby gets a shutout and Granlund pots a couple for my hockey draft. Normally I want them to win these games pretty bad, I hate the Wild and they have our number for sure.

  • TKB2677

    For Lucic to score 2 goals, he needs to go and beat the hell out of someone early on to get into the game. He needs to stop “asking” or doing whatever the hell he is doing and just go out there and make something happen on his own. He is a much more effective player when he is running around a bit.

  • Connor McFly

    Why is it that Stauffer, the Oilers spin doctor/hired mouth, is always laying the blame on the players. That has been the senior management’s fall back position forever. The problem is never the GM or coaching it is aways dump on the players time. Right now its Poolparty, the 19 year old rookie still trying to learn the language. Why is it that Stauffer doesn’t go after a $6 mil dud who drags down every single linemate and has 5 more years to go on this contract. Even McD has criticised the contant disruption of lines. Imagine his point totals if the Nuge played with him the last 5 months or so. All the sports talking heads in Edmonton seem to be preaching patience and status quo.
    Sickening.

      • WHH

        I’ve also noticed he doesn’t say a lot of good things about Ethan Bear. He is usually dismissive of him, and I’ve never heard him be enthusiastic about his up side.

    • TKB2677

      I am not here to stick up for the coaches or GM because they need to take a lot of blame for this disaster. But at the same time, the players are the ones on the ice. Who on the Oilers has had a good season? McDavid, maybe Nurse and Khaira. Other than that, who else? Maybe Nuge but he has missed 1/4 of the season. So maybe there is 4 players. You aren’t winning too many games when you have 4 guys out of 20 playing decent. Sure blame the GM for some mistakes he made but if this team, holes and all played decent, they are probably in the playoffs. Even if just Talbot had a decent year, they are in the playoff hunt.

      Same goes for the coaches. Their special teams sucked but if Talbot has even a mediocre year, they are in the playoff hunt. You can’t win if your starter is lousy 3/4 of his starts. He’s had what 20 good games maybe? In the last Calgary game he was terrible and they lost even thought they outplayed the Flames.

      I think the blame is split evenly between coaches/GM/players.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Because Stauffer, IMO, has a massive ego and thinks he knows everything. Have you ever heard him “interview” a guest? All he does is interrupt to give his version of events. His stories are tiresome, as are his constant spin That’s why I stopped listening to him.

      • Derian Hatcher

        I just re read my post and it’s a little harsh on old Bobby He has good knowledge of the game and a great memory for hockey stats / events. My apologies

    • Bills Bills

      Management takes some of the blame but they can’t force a guy to back check or stay in position in the defensive zone. I will say there seems to be a lack of accountability however that is certainly related to the lack of depth in the system. Benching a guy only works if there is an option to replace him with. PC has tried to shore up the depth but the previous regime had given him next to nothing to work with.

      How is it that none of them have been fired again? I guess it is true, the culture (in this case the lack of accountability) starts from the top.

    • Anton CP

      I don’t particularly want to fault Chiarelli too much but he is definitely one of the key reason that the Oilers underachieving season by leaving a huge cap room and not adding some short term helps.

      The one is the biggest reason for the failure season is definitely coaching staffs. Ever since the first game that you are wondering the sanity of the coaching staffs to want defensemans to shoot the lights out on PP from blueline. Klefbom at times has some good shots but he is not by any means a good shooter especially that he has a bum shoulder. Why that no one on the Oilers coaching staffs to tell Klefbom stop shooting (203 shots for 5 goals…2% accuracy and they still let him shoot)? I believe at the early season I’ve said about the Oilers have the highest rate of shots from defensemans (35% or something) compare to other teams but with 27 goals from 808 shots (3%) that clearly it is a terrible idea to have d-mans shooting that often.

      Terrible PK is both coaching staffs and GM’s fault because Chiarelli should add some experience veterans that are good on PK and the coaching staffs unable to look at the faults and fix player’s positioning on PK. The Oilers have league leading short hand goals with worst PK may also indicate that the players on PK jumped on plays too often that they don’t remember having a man down.

      The winning ratio for the Oilers leading after one or two periods are quite high means the Oilers lost majority of the games on first period. The Oilers also have the most first shot for goal allowed(is it 11 or something?) that is almost unheard of. The Oilers have terrible season with their defensemans and goalies that you can only hope that they will get better next season…

      Still, McLellan needs to change or the Oilers should change at the coaching again.

  • The Future Never Comes

    *Only number to know- 3 games until the most disappointing season in franchise history is over. Then we can all enjoy a well deserved summer off from that frustrating and under performing disaster called a season. Good riddance.

  • CRONENBERG

    Well as long as we’re making predictions such as “Lucic will score twice today” I say that McDavid closes out the season with a hat trick of hat tricks in the last three games and wins the Rocket Richard!

  • Randaman

    Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid remains one of the only reasons to watch Oilers games at this point in the season.

    Correction: Connor is the ONLY reason to watch! You’re welcome.

  • Mr.Snrub

    Last week many Oilers said the Art Ross race was over and they were right but did they also mean their seasons were over too?

    Ever since #97 basically clinched the Art Ross the team has shifted back into pin me pay me mode.

    • jultz=2cups!😂😂

      Leon has 68 points in 75 games and you’re questioning his decisions on the ice? Lol. Classic oilersnation cherry picking one play and making a bigger deal out of it than it really is. Drama queens.