Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to yet another early edition of the Oilersnation GDB as we get ourselves set for our beloved Oilers to take on the Nashville Predators in an afternoon affair. With they be able to avenge last weekend’s shutout loss, winning it not only for themselves and the fans but also as a gift for Leon Draisaitl’s birthday? We’re only a few hours from finding out.
Last week, these two teams met up for the first time this season and, despite the loss, the Oilers actually played a pretty decent hockey game but their effort was ultimately wasted as they were unable to get anything past Juuse Saros. Needless to say, you need to score to win and anything less than that is a real problem. As much as it was encouraging to see some improved defensive play from the squad, it was ultimately disappointing that a lack of finish sunk the ship. That said, the boys played well against a very good team and that was encouraging to see. Unfortunately, strong efforts don’t always show up in the standings and that loss extended the Oilers’ streak of despair against the Preds to 13 games, which is a not so fun fact I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing about. Adding salt to the wound, Nashville has been the only team so far this season to shut Connor McDavid out on the scoresheet and I’d sure like to see that remedied today. Actually, you know what, I’m going to go ahead and extend that wish for every Oiler playing today now that I’m thinking about it. I actually don’t care who scores, I just hope it’s someone. Cool? Cool.
On that note, the Oilers have actually started to spread the scoring around a little bit which obviously eases the pressure on #97 and makes a huge difference in defending them. I don’t have to tell anyone how important it is that he’s not relied on for 100% of the offence and getting other people going is the only way they’re going to consistently win hockey games, including the one today. Over the past two contests, found money, Alex Chiasson has three clutch goals, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has four points (2G, 2A), Leon Draisaitl has a pair of goals, and it seems like the other line combos are starting to find some chemistry too. Can it continue today? Maybe a fourth line goal if I’m being greedy? I Gord damned hope so. The Oilers absolutely need everyone on board if they plan on getting their first win against the Predators in literal years. To say that Edmonton has had their ‘hockey balls’ in the Preds’ pocket over the past few years would be an understatement, and there’s no better time to turn the lights up and end the futility dance than right here and now.
But if this seemingly neverending losing streak is actually going to end, the Oilers are going to have to pay some serious attention in all three zones on the ice and prevent the Predators from settling into their offensive gameplan. Against the Capitals, the Oilers did a really nice job of closing gaps and not allowing Washington’s skill guys the space to get anything done. I mean, Ovi was way quiet on Thursday. He wasn’t really a factor at all and that’s the kind of team defence I want to see again. Over their last 10 meetings (going back to 2015-16), the Predators have outscored the Oilers 32-12 which is a pretty jarring stat to soak in and an exclamation point on how lopsided this matchup has been. In the first round of this year’s series, at least by my eye, the Oilers probably played well enough overall to have deserved at least a point, but the obvious problem was that they couldn’t score at five-on-five or with their power play which has since registered goals in two straight games. The chances were there but the goals were not. Over the last two games, the Oilers have found different ways to score some goals and I’m hoping that well has only just been tapped.
Now, what we have to do is pray to the Hockey Gords that the rock solid team that we all watched on Thursday night is the ‘real’ Edmonton Oilers and not a bi-weekly wonder. Considering the improvement as their season has gone on, the fanboy in me is super hopeful that this trend will continue. I mean, ‘Flagpole Sitta‘ was a pretty solid jam but you can be damned sure that Harvey Danger would have been better off with another hit, ya dig?
Check out this unbelievable fact that I found yesterday because it’s almost unbelievable. And I honestly don’t mean this to be a knock against Koskinen at all, but it’s the kind of coincidence that you just can’t make up. Prepare to have your brains blown through your skull:
Tomorrow will be Koskinen's first regular season start in the NHL since February 13, 2011, a game against the Buffalo Sabres in which he was pulled after allowing four goals on 10 shots.
Fun Fact: He was replaced in that game by Al Montoya who went on to close out a 7-6 win
— Baggedmilk – Oilers Beet writer (@jsbmbaggedmilk) October 27, 2018
Also, Koskinen was actually pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots. I was looking at his saves column which was just as hilarious but not quite accurate.
Numbers courtesy of Corsica
The big story today is that Mikko Koskinen will be getting his first start of the season. More than that, it will be his first NHL regular season start since February 13, 2011, a game, as we saw above, that he was pulled in after allowing four goals on 14 shots. In three preseason appearances this year, Koskinen finished with a 1-1-0 record and a .855 save% with 10 goals against on 69 shots. Those aren’t great stats (obviously) and it will be interesting to see how he handles his first start of the year, especially against a team like Nashville. In brighter news, Evan Bouchard became the youngest Edmonton Oilers defenceman to score an NHL regular season goal with his half-clapper from the point for the first of his career on Tuesday night, and it’s no surprise to see him earn his eighth game of the season. Decision time looms for the Oilers.
As of posting, the Oilers hadn’t released their line combinations yet but I’ll be sure to update this when they pass along the info. It’s going to be interesting to see if Puljujarvi makes his way back so I’ll be waiting on that.
**UPDATE*** Lines are updated
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Aside from the JoFA line and Craig Smith, no forward on the Nashville Predators have scored more than a single goal on the year.
So, should the Nashville Predators be concerned with a top-heavy offense?
To begin, it should be acknowledged that the past couple of years saw a balanced scoring attack vault the team to the top of the league.
Last year, for example, when the JoFA line would come off the ice, the line of Kyle Turris, Craig Smith, and Kevin Fiala were right there showcasing their speed and finesse. The third and fourth lines followed by sneaking in goals as well. This ultimately resulted in seven forwards scoring at least 30 points for the second straight year.
What we are seeing this year instead is solely top line and defensive production.
Game Day Prediction: Unlike in last week’s meeting, the Oilers cash in on some secondary scoring and it powers them to a 3-2 road victory. The boys are fired up, Leon Draisaitl gets an ice cream cake, and they make their way to Chicago in high spirits.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Despite the game being at 1pm, Nation Citizens crush beers at a 1am pace.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers are upset that they arrived in town too late to see Little Big Town at the Grand Ole Opry. They missed the early and late shows, ruining what would otherwise have been a wonderful trip to Nashville.
NATION ROADIE TO CALGARY
Friends, your time is running out if you want to get in on this road trip to Calgary. We’re about 3/4 sold out and you have less than a week to make the call on coming or not.
Give me the details, guy:
- When? Saturday, November 17th, 2018
- How much? The depends on how many people are coming with you. To put it another way, we’ve got a range of options including single occupancy ($329/person) up to groups of four ($249/person).
- Why? Because we love to party
- Where do you buy tickets? Right here, friend. But be warned, just like the last time we did this, the trip sold out quickly and procrastinating will be your enemy if you want to come.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 10/26/2018 – 9:45 am MT