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Photo Credit: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 11.0: Out Like a Lion (7pm MT, SNOil)

“In like a lion, out like a lamb,” or “in like a lamb, out like a lion,” are proverbs connected to weather and the month of March. Folklore has led many to believe if the March starts off with cold, stormy weather (Lion), then it would end on a pleasant warm note (Lamb). Or if it begins with nice weather, then the cold snap would come at the end. Growing up on the farm I heard my parents utter this phrase every year and often numerous times each March.

I never tracked it to see if it was accurate, but as I got older I found myself repeating those words. I do recall years where “in like a lamb out like a lion” was legit as I froze my ass off in the barn in late March during calving season. I recall those years mainly because you expect it to be cold in early March, but when the temperature is -20 on March 24th you remember it. In 2013 I sat in the barn as three cows were close to popping. Two of them calved early that morning and both had twins. As I worked to dry off the calves, to ensure none had frozen ears or a tail, I recall mumbling something to the effect of “eff you, out like a lion.”

The 2018 Oilers began October like a lamb. They didn’t have much bite losing two games and being outscored 9-3 v. New Jersey and Boston. Oilersnation was restless, but a victory in New York, in an afternoon game no less, got the Oilers rolling and then they steamrolled through some top teams and have an opportunity to finish October like a lion if they can defeat the Minnesota Wild tonight.

The Oilers have had a steady diet of top teams in October — Nashville and Boston twice, Pittsburgh, Washington, Winnipeg, Chicago and now Minnesota. All of them except Chicago had 100+ points last season, and all of them are currently among the top-11 teams in the standings, excluding the Capitals.

A victory this evening and the Oilers will leave October with 15 points and in the top-ten of the NHL standings. It would be a remarkable feat considering their schedule, and they get another bonus from the schedule maker with the Wild losing 5-2 in Vancouver last night.

The Wild are 1-3 on the road and will be playing their backup goalie in the second game of back-to-backs. This is a great opportunity for the Oilers to keep rolling.

LINEUP

Oilers

RNH-McDavid-Yamamoto
Rieder-Draisaitl-Chiasson
Lucic-Strome-Caggiula
Khaira-Brodziak-Kassian

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Garrison-Benning

Talbot

McLellan is sticking with the same lineup which means Jesse Puljujarvi will sit out his fourth consecutive game.

“We have some chemistry with lines and pairs and I sense a renewed confidence in the group so I will keep the lineup the same tonight,” said McLellan.

“It is not ideal for him (Puljujarvi) not to play, but we have to look at the entire group and you try to find a balance between individuals and the team. The NHL is a tough place to develop players. We have a lot of them and some nights some play well and others don’t. If you make decisions for the best interest of the team I think often they will work out better for the team,” continued McLellan.

McLellan knows what is at stake with Puljujarvi, but when others are playing better you are doing a disservice to your team to play someone simply because they are young and need to be playing. McLellan was saying as a coach you can’t let one player’s development be more important than icing the lineup you think gives you the best chance to win.

I also get the sense McLellan is speaking through his actions. It is up to management to make the decision to send Puljujarvi to the minors. They make the final call and if the team is winning and playing well, the right decision is to send Puljujarvi to Bakersfield and let him play.

The organization needs a plan. It wouldn’t have made any sense to send him down recently as Bakersfield has only played three games since October 10th. Starting tomorrow they get back into a more regular schedule with five over the next two weeks, but Puljujarvi would also get more practice time to work on his individual skills.

The NHL schedule doesn’t allow for a lot of individual practice time for players.

I remain steadfast in believing the best situation for Puljujarvi right now is to play big minutes in the AHL. Management needs to make that decision.

Zack Kassian also addressed the rumour the Oilers gave his agent permission to seek out a trade.

“I didn’t ask for a trade. When I got healthy scratched my agent did his job and reached out to Peter to see what was up. I hadn’t played well early, but I feel our line is coming on. I addressed my teammates before the Chicago game and I never asked for a trade. It is the business side of the game. These types of conversations happen often. I want to help us, we are in a good spot,” said Kassian.

His agent spoke to Chiarelli and what happens often is a GM will tell the agent to talk to other teams if he wishes. Usually, the conversations don’t lead to anything, and in most cases the situation never gets leaked. You’d be surprised how often a player has quietly asked for a trade, but it never transpired. I don’t see this as that big of a deal.

Kassian knows he is a third or fourth line player, regardless of which team he plays for. His situation or ice time won’t change much if he goes to a new team. If he plays well he will play EV and on the PK.

Wild

Zucker-Staal-Niederreiter
Parise-Koivu-Granlund
Greenway-Coyle-Brown
Foligno-Fehr-Eriksson Ek

Suter-Dumba
Brodin-Spurgeon
Seeler-Pateryn

Stalock

Kevin Woodley from In Goal Magazine had a great quote about the Wild’s goaltending duo.

“They might be the most opposite pairing there is in the NHL. Dubnyk is all positioning, and tracking, and efficiency. Alex Stalock is just a bag of fun to watch play goalie, because he’s all over the place. He relies on reads, he’s athletic and aggressive. Personally, I’m taking Dubynk’s style, but from an entertainment stand-point, you might have fun watching Alex,” said Woodley.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Hockey Wilderness:

As I mentioned above, the first 10 minutes of this game will be crucial. The team played last night, has a goalie that hasn’t played in 10 days, and plays a team that is one of the hottest in the NHL. You will be able to tell how the night will go for the Wild solely based on the pace of the game, and how the Wild start, in the first half of the period.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers win their fourth in a row defeating the Wild 5-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers get more powerplays than the Wild. Minnesota is -12 in PP-PK ratio. They’ve had 36 PP chances, but have been on the PK 48 times, meanwhile the Oilers have had 36 powerplays and have been shorthanded 33 times. And McDavid picks up a 5×5 point.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In their last 19 games v. the Wild the Oilers have averaged 26 shots. Only twice have they had 30+ shots. The Oilers fire 35+ shots tonight and Lucic and Strome combine on a goal.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Please someone send Dustin Schwartz back to the Oil Kings to be there Golaie Coach, he is not an NHL goalie coach, I have said this before and will again the biggest issue with Talbot is he goes down to early, teams know to go high on him, and Schwartz has done nothing to correct it. No pressure from the Oilers and boom in the net, brutal

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      Talbot has been good the last while, but the defence was brutal today, Benning/Garrison on for 2 goals. The going down early thing Talbot was doing back when the Oilers were doing the 42 wins season, the next year Talbot was still doing the going down to early thing, and again it is going on. Teams watch film of the others teams goalies, the book on Talbot is to shoot high. Schwartz has done nothing to get Talbot out of that habit of going down to early, nothing he is there to help the Goalies with issues in their game, to work them in correcting it and he has done nothing to correct it, the guys has zero NHL experience and game from being the Oil Kings goalie coach after the Oilers fired Chabot, Schwartz should have been cleaned out long ago.

      The oilers need a goalie coach with proven NHL experience Schwartz doesnt have it and doesnt know how to address the issues the goalies need to in adapting and changing their play when pucks are routinely getting past them the same way over and over again.

      Until the Oilers fire Schwartz and hire a real goalie coach expect to see more and more goals go in on Talbot and expect Koskinen to get into the same bad habit of going down to early, although in Koskinen’s case his size might help him in covering the upper half of the net, Talbot doesnt have the height to achieve that

      • KootenayHT

        The goalie coach is not the reason the oilers lost this game. Nurse almost backed right into Talbot on that last PP goal against. Garrison puck watching on the 2nd goal…not sure what he was doing there but it wasn’t playing defense. How many faceoffs did we win but not get possession? How many did we lose with the man advantage? All around ugly game. Ohhh geez, I don’t care fer the Minnesota Wild, that’s fer sure.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Bad penalties and I didnt see much energy from the Oilers, minnesota played the night before and seemed tired in the first and second but more zip then the Oilers the whole game. Sorry this is a game the Oilers could have had but they didnt look very good , and the Pk was brutal, no pressure from the Oil just let the Wild have too much time with the puck and move it about no problem, this is one the Oil deserved to lose, they just didnt show up ready to play

    • Towers-of-dub

      That happens. Sometimes a team takes a period and half to get going on back to backs while the other loses its legs after coming home. We just move on.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Yes that is true, but lets hope the oilers arent slipping into old habits we saw that at the start of the season and a lot last season, so I sure the hell hope this was just an off night

  • madjam

    Pathetic , getting dominated in 3rd period by an old team doing back to back games . Why is Strome on second PPlay when he has not even one assist or goal in 11 games ? With our dire lack of secondary scoring I see no reason the Oilers will remain a playoff contender despite our reasonable early start . Trade some of our rifraf .