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Photo Credit: © Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 4.0: Going to Winnipeg (6pm MT, SN Oilers)

“Gate 31A was Hawaii and gate 31B is Winnipeg…alright, going to Winnipeg.”

It was a classic line from a Fountain Tire commercial in 2005.

It obviously was a joke, since there is no airport in Winnipeg, but the Oilers are in Winnipeg and hoping to find some offence.

It is difficult to win when you only score five times in three game, but the good news for the Oilers is they’ve only allowed eight actual goals in three games (Boston and New Jersey each scored an empty net goal). The Oilers have only allowed five EV goals in three games — granted, they’ve only scored three at 5×5, but considering how bad they were at defending at 5×5 last season, the early low goals against total at 5×5 should be looked at as a positive. (On an unrelated note, the Arizona Coyotes haven’t scored one goal at 5×5 in four games. Unreal.)

But the Oilers lack of offence is a major concern right now. We did see some life from the third line in New York. The Ryan Strome-Drake Caggiula-Jesse Puljujarvi trio combined for seven shots, and were on for three other shots. Strome and Caggiula weren’t on the ice for any shots against. That is a dominant performance, but they need to find a way to bulge the twine to make it really matter.

Leon Draisaitl can do more. He is the leader of his line, and they go as he goes. He does have three points, which is good, but you’d like to see him be more of a consistent threat. He is capable of it, and needs to get going at even strength.

The Carolina Hurricanes dominated the Jets in Winnipeg on Sunday night. Former Oilers netminder Laurent Brossoit stood on his head, stopping 42 of 43 shots, including 32 in the first 40 minutes, before Patrik Laine scored on the PP early in the third and Bryan Little scored the winner with just over two minutes remaining. The Jets couldn’t handle the Hurricanes speed, and with Dustin Byfuglien scheduled to miss his second consecutive game, the Oilers need to use their speed more than we’ve seen. They are still struggling to move the puck quickly up ice, or move up ice as a close unit. When they do make a good outlet pass the forwards aren’t supporting one another, and it often leads to Edmonton dumping the puck in or losing possession.

The Jets are off to an average start, by their standards, but they have too much talent to see their offence struggle like it has for the past four games. The Oilers need to be on their toes in all three zones this evening, and ideally they do not want Connor McDavid tying or setting the NHL record for factoring in on seven consecutive team goals to start a season. We know McDavid is great, but if he breaks the record then the Oilers chances of winning are very slim.

LINEUP…

Oilers

RNH-McDavid-Rattie
Lucic-Draisaitl-Yamamoto
Caggiula-Strome-Puljujärvi
Rieder-Brodziak-Khaira

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Garrison-Benning

Talbot

Benning returns and will play with Garrison. I’m a bit surprised the coach changed a winning lineup. However, I do think it is smart to put Benning in the third pair where he is better suited right now. Putting players in positions they can handle and hopefully succeed in is wise.

Most importantly, the PK needs to be on their toes this evening otherwise the dangerous Jets powerplay will light up the Oilers.

Jets

Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler
Ehlers-Little-Laine
Lemieux-Roslovic-Perrault
Copp-Lowry-Tanev

Morrissey-Trouba
Kulikov-Myers
Chiarot-Morrow

Hellebuyck

Even without Dustin Byfuglien, the Jets top four is pretty solid. The Jets aren’t playing great hockey right now and with Big Buff out of the lineup the Oilers need to take advantage of his absence. The Oilers went 0-3 v. Winnipeg last season and were outclassed in two of those games.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From JetsNation:

Perhaps the biggest weapon the Oilers have had in the past is no longer with the team. Mark Letestu was a well known Jet killer during his time in Edmonton. In fact, over his career, he recorded more goals against Winnipeg than any other team in the league. If there is any time Oilers fans might still want Letestu, it’s tonight in Winnipeg.

As mentioned above, the Oilers have only played three games so far this season. It’s a tough schedule quirk as they are near the bottom of the league standings almost entirely because of the schedule. Granted, if the Oilers had won three straight, nobody would be using this as an excuse…

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: I don’t see a .500 trip. The Oilers score three goals, but lose 4-3.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Jets score on the powerplay.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: McDavid picks up points on the Oilers first two goals to tie Adam Oates’ NHL record of getting a point on his team’s first seven goals of the season, but he doesn’t break the record as Ryan Strome, flanked by his linemates, scores the Oilers third goal.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/15/2018 – 11:30 am MT



  • OilersRidersChargers

    So Matt Benning, a young defenceman who surprised us with his upside a couple of years ago and has earned his spot over time, is suddenly this season’s Shultz / Eberle? As in it’s all his fault? Everyone, it’s not all on one kid, it’s early, etc., etc. Let’s not break his spirit like we did Eberle’s.
    I’d dearly love to see a win tonight – we can do it, but we have to play over top of our skates, and not chase the Jets.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      I think the problem, at least from my standpoint, is that Benning has NOT earned his spot over time!
      He has been bad from day 1 to my eye, and the only reason he has been gifted ice time is because Chiarelli drafted him out of the NCAA when he was in Boston and then brought him to Edmonton. The fact his dad is an ex Oiler and uncle is GM and POHO in Vancouver makes it look bad as well.

    • jesse says yep

      Benning earned his shot with is first year as being a rookie he was given leeway and performed well enough. 2 years later he hasnt really developed much past his rookie year and that level of performance is not acceptable for a player position. I don’t think he is being railroaded by anyone, he just doesn’t look like he has what it takes to succeed in the NHL. And I havent seen anyone expecting Benning to carry the load. Just break even would be ok with me..

    • Arfguy

      I’m actually ok with Benning. He is a young player and I think he is feeling the pressure. This team is not doing well and I am starting to place more and more blame on the coaching staff. I do not like the ultra-slow second line. Yes, Yamamoto is on that second line, but I have not seen a burst of speed and offensive chances generated by Kailer. I still think Rieder should be placed on the Draisaitl line, since Rieder has amazing breakaway speed. Of course, MacLellan does not want to do that because he has it in his mind that Lucic and Draisaitl will circle the offensive zone, making passes back and forth and cycle until they get a goal…since it’s happened so many time.

      If this season starts to spiral, I am going to place less and less blame on the players and more on the coach (and management) for not adapting to how the game is now played.