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GDB 22.0: A Black Friday Matinee (2pm MST, SNW)

It’s American Thanksgiving weekend and you know what that means — an excuse to play hooky from real life and drink beers for daytime sports! Today, we’ve got a Black Friday game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Anaheim Ducks, as they face off for the first of four meetings this season.

Tuesday was a strange day. Early that morning, we found out that Todd McLellan took the bullet for Peter Chiarelli’s handiwork and that Ken Hitchcock would be his replacement behind the bench. The fact that the Oilers were able to play that night, compete hard, and ultimately walk away with two big points is very impressive. Having your coach get the axe in the morning and then playing an NHL game that night without so much as a single practice with the new guy had to be a strange day at the office. Fortunately for all of us, the boys gutted out a ballsy win that stopped the bleeding and kicked off the Hitchcock era with a much needed win.

When speaking to the media following his first on-ice session with the team, Hitchcock said that they worked on only a single minor adjustment at their first practice together which makes complete sense at this stage. He’s not going to overload the guys with new concepts at their first practice but I’d still love to know what they were working on and how it differed from McLellan’s game plan. We all know that defence is crucial on Hitchcock-led teams and that’s something that hasn’t always been a huge focus around here. Another thing I’ll be watching for is whether or not he can make sure that his team keeps their pace up for 60 minutes like they did against the Sharks, or if Tuesday’s game was the age-old ‘new coach bump.’

From where I blog, there’s no better opponent for Hitch to see what the Oilers are actually made of than in their first game of the season against the Anaheim Ducks. Are they the team that was able to get better and better as the game wore on against the Sharks, or are they the team that got blown out by Vegas at home only a couple days earlier? There haven’t been many teams that the Oilers have visibly hated over the years, but the Ducks would certainly make the list, and I’m thinking that it’s the perfect test to face in the early days of the Hitchcock era. Even last year, at the peak of their death spiral into ineptitude, the Oilers managed to get themselves fired up for a showdown with Kesler and co, so I’ll be expecting nothing less again today.

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The Nation Roundup

Last season, the Oilers and Ducks split a very evenly matched four-game set with each team picking up a win at home and on the road.

NUMBERS

OILERS DUCKS
RECORD 10-10-1 9-9-5
WIN/LOSS STREAK W1 W1
GOALS FOR 61 52
GOALS AGAINST 69 88
POWER PLAY 20.3 15.6
PENALTY KILL 75.4 80.0
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 31.0 27.1
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 30.0 36.0
TEAM SAVE% .898 .926
CORSI FOR% 50.24 44.21
PDO 98.39 101.41
TEAM SHOOTING% 6.74 7.16
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 51.28 40.3

Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Caggiula – McDavid – Draisaitl
Spooner – Nuge – Chiasson
Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian
Khaira – Marody – Rattie

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Benning

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Koskinen

After yesterday’s practice, Ken Hitchcock mentioned that he wouldn’t be making many changes to the lineup that just won the night before, which isn’t exactly surprising. Even with the acquisition of Chris Wideman, I didn’t expect Hitchcock to throw him into the lineup without a practice and also given the fact that he grabbed a late flight (probably the first he could get) out of Ottawa last night. One thing we saw on Tuesday night was that Hitchcock likes to line match and it will be interesting to see how he deploys his four lines.

I know I saw some people talking about how Lucic was playing on the fourth line, but if you base your thinking around actual minutes played then you’ll see that the 27-28-44 line played quite a bit more than Marody’s trio. I imagine we’ll see the same thing today.

Ducks

Rakell – Getzlaf – Kase
Aberg – Henrique – Silfverberg
Cogliano – Kesler – Sherwood
Ritchie – Kossila – Gibbons

Larsson – Manson
Mahura – Montour
Pettersson – Welinski

Gibson

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The Ducks have a lot of injuries to key players (Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Corey Perry, Patrick Eaves, Korbinian Holzer), which gives the Oilers the opportunity to take advantage of a depleted lineup. Having Fowler and Lindholm out with injuries is a swift kick to the shins for the Ducks, opening up an opportunity for Hitchcock to look for advantages in his matchups.

RELATED ARTICLE:
Is there any way the Oilers can afford to sign Alex Pietrangelo?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Anaheim Calling:

On October 1st, two days before the dawn of a new season, Anaheim Ducks’ General Manager Bob Murray made a curious move in acquiring a young Swedish right-winger by the name of Pontus Aberg off of waivers from the Edmonton Oilers.

On October 21st, he was put onto the top line alongside Ryan Getzlaf. Since then, the 25-year-old former second round pick has thrived in Anaheim, currently on pace for 41 points and almost 30 goals for the season. Not bad for a waiver-wire pickup.

Now, it’s important to note that, while Aberg certainly has skill and is having a great season with the Ducks so far, he is not exactly a first line superstar in the making. If anything, he’s an under-the-radar middle-six option with quick feet and a jumpy trigger finger. A guy who can give this team some much needed depth scoring in a role similar to Ondrej Kase.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Anaheim Ducks have a ton of injuries right now, including some key pieces to their back end, and aren’t able to handle the McDouble shift. Oilers take this one 3-2.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: He doesn’t play today, but Chris Wideman ends up in Anaheim in time for the game. He takes an Uber from the hotel to the arena and doesn’t say a single word.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Ken Hitchcock remembers everyone’s name today, telling Ty Rattie that he still knows his name and that he still won’t be allowed on the ice.

BLACK FRIDAY

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Coming up on Thursday night at midnight, our annual Black Friday collecting drops for a limited time only. We’ve got hats, a tee, hoodie, and toques and they’re pretty dope so you’ll definitely want to check it out. Every year, we sell out of all of these items so be sure to get to NationGear.ca as fast as you can if you want to score something to beautify your wardrobe.


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 11/23/2018 – 10:00 am MST


      • Rufio Barcoli

        You guess?
        Along the line of the same guesses that it was Chia’s fault that Todd was a bad coach?
        But, if you are not guessing: why do you believe Todd still should be coaching?

        • Since you don’t seem to understand how teams work, I will explain: Todd McLellan definitely deserves his share of blame for what went on but I tend to not blame the furniture when the roof caves in. Instead, I look at the guy that, conservatively, traded or bought out 80+ goals per year off the roster without replacing it. I look forward to whatever strange reply comes from you next.

          • Rufio Barcoli

            Is assumptions a personality trait?

            H!tch must have some strong shoulders. The roof caved, and the old man managed to hold it up off the players. Stay tuned and see for how long 😉

            He traded +80 because he had to and could afford to. I’ll take a note out of your book and assume.
            I assume the 80+ goals per year you are referring to are mostly Jordan and Taylor.

            Could you show me the goals for per year in Jordan and Taylor final year here, please?
            Then show me the goals for per year Oilers had after the years they left? Please.
            I’d to see in what years after did the goals for per year drop by 80.

          • Learn to read, I said he moved out 80+ goals per year off the roster. Last year’s goal totals:

            Hall (39)
            Eberle (25)
            Maroon (17)
            Pitlick (14)
            Pouliot (13)
            Hendricks (5)

            =113 goals. To be fair, 14 of Maroon’s goals came here so we’ll take those out. Instead, we had 99 goals off the roster.

            Adam Larsson had 4, and Ryan Strome had 13. You want to finish the math?

          • You know what? You’ve changed my mind. We should defend the guy that could potentially miss the playoffs three times in the first four seasons of Connor McDavid’s finite career. Who needs more than one line that can score? You’re right, he’s doing a great job.

          • Rufio Barcoli

            Hypothetical, if I was your uncle and you came to me and told me that my other nephew Timmy took X amount of money from my cash on the dresser.

            I count my money on the dresser but nothing is missing. Yet, you keep insisting that Timmy took it.

            Am I going to, or suppose to, be upset with Timmy?
            Or should I be upset with my other tattletaling nephew that assumes?

          • I love that this is your argument. You’re treating 240 odd goals per year as a ceiling. Sure, the goals scored stayed flat for the Oilers because some players like RNH and Draisaitl (both not Chiarelli players) scored more last year than the year before. I mean JJ Khaira also put up a career high last year too, but he wasn’t brought in by Chiarelli either. Unfortunately, had the Oilers still had the players moved out in losing trades, one of which was traded again 16 months after being acquired, they could have scored more. So instead of having something like 234 goals, like they did last year, they could be on a pace more like the Leafs are right now (285). Chiarelli also did nothing to get Connor McDavid — he was a gift that gives him 40+ goals per year. You want to count Connor as a Chiarelli guy? Really? Now answer my question, how have the players Chiarelli brought in replaced the offence he’s moved out?

          • Rufio Barcoli

            That’s not my argument, it is yours.
            I’m not treating 240 goals as a ceiling. Why would you assume that?

            Sure, some of the players Chia didn’t bring in. But at the end of the day, and most will agree, that is his roster. It is what he presents his coach.

            I can’t argue hypothetical assumptions you make on what could have been. The same way Oilers could be like the Leaves is the same way the Leaves could be putting up Oilers numbers. Maybe the reason the Leaves aren’t is because they have a better coach and not necessary a better roster.

            The same way Chia was gifted Connor-he was the same gift to Todd as well. No?

            Chia wasn’t bringing in players to replace the offense he was sending out. And as the numbers show, that doesn’t appear to be the issue.

    • Beer

      Chia was TM’s boss, who built a team to play heavy, nasty, fast, and meaner than the oposition when needed. Now we’ll find out what this team is or isn’t under a coach that is going coach to according to Chia’s vision. TM knew Chia’s hockey ideology when he took the job, but yet he still took the job in the first place.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      It would’ve helped if he showed up for practice once in a while…?
      I think there were “extra-curricular” activities at play that we may never know about? Maybe that kind of fun is accepted in the L.A. area? I don’t know.

    • btrain

      That’s like the league looking at Chiasson and kicking themselves for not grabbing a guy on pace for 44 goals this year. Its nice to see these unexpected contributions but its far more certain they fall back to earth than maintain their current pace.
      Also, though the coach no doubt has some input, the roster is determined by the GM. So if you have an issue with Aberg getting points in 6 of 17 GP somewhere else, you need to hold Chia accountable as well. However, we are talking about a guy who is a couple of two-point games above mediocre, over a small sample size. Lets see how it plays out before concluding that the Oilers missed an opportunity.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Well, when it’s time to go Duck hunting, I say we call in the professionals. Leon “The Duck Hunter” Draisitl is going to do his thing tonight!

  • Glencontrolurstik

    Hey, random thought, but I think a good one?
    Can ON come up with a montagé of Tom Kostiuk’s work?
    Maybe keep a big file of it on the home-page. Kind of like a “Tom Kostiuk Gallery”. It’s be a great place to go once in a while if we ever have an extended losing streak again?
    Just a thought?

  • TKB2677

    The Oilers haven’t played since Tuesday. They got a day off and a practice in so they are rested and healthy. The Ducks are banged up, missing their best 2 dmen. This is a game they need to win. If they win this game, they would be in 3rd place in a playoff spot right at the supposed make or break time which is American Thanksgiving weekend.

  • Johnny Zylon

    So now the Oilers have had a couple practices with Hitch I sorta expect to see the first of Hitch’s fingerprints on the game plan. One thing I do like already is he likes the team to play heavy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Oiler team play that way. Hit it!

    • TKB2677

      I like the fact that Hitch looked at certain guys especially Lucic and figured out in a matter of minutes what needs to happen for them to be effective. It sure looks like the days of Lucic being an over 20 goal guy are gone. I am shocked it disappeared just like that but it’s hard to argue with the evidence. His contract sucks. He makes too much money and its way too long. It sucks and I wish that contract wasn’t on the Oilers books. But like it or not, it is. So at this point, there is no point in complaining about it anymore. The goal is to figure out HOW you can get at least some value out of Lucic. You will NEVER get 6 mill worth of value. But you can’t get ZERO value like McLellan was getting. So put Lucic into a position where he can succeed and bring some value to your team. Trying to turn Lucic back into a 20+ goal scorer was foolish.

    • TKB2677

      My goal for the game. Lucic and his new found grinder, physical role that he seems to be embracing and looking forward too, lines up Kesler and absolutely demolishes him. If he happens to crush his messed up hip knocking him out, even better. Kesler deserves everything he gets.

  • OldOilFan

    Afternoon game…in California: used to be a guaranteed loss. Not today.

    Ducks are beat up at the moment, meanwhile Hitch is working hard to mold the Oilers into a cohesive outfit. I like our chances today.

  • Love rotisserie Kes in the opening frame. He can be a turkey alright.

    Of interest to me, is how Hitch responds to Oilers indifference at times. Not sure if indifference is the right word, but I think you know what I mean.
    Also, Hitch just went from hangin around his home, watching day time TV, with afternoon naps, to coaching an uninterested team at times, only 48 hours later. From one extreme to another in a very short period of time, without preparation or time to adjust.

    • IRONman

      Now you will see line matching. Shut down getzlaf and win. Line 3 is Lucic and Kassian hitting hard. Man I would not want to take a hit from those guys. This is going to be fun.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        I bet be see McDavid as a 4th line centre after the “hard hitting 3rd line”…
        That’s how Hitch will double shift, not leave him on to take Nuge’s spot so much… His strategy is to strike fear. Ritchie – Kossila – Gibbons and most importantly Carlyle won’t know what hit em? You’re right, It’s going to be fun…

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Believe me, the whole time he was home napping as you say, he was preparing. Not that he knew at the beginning of the season he’d get the gig.
      More like, “if I was Todd, I’d do this, and this, and that…..”
      That’s the kind of guy Hitch is, never stops thinking the game… Just the guy we need…

    • OldOilFan

      Hitch can handle it.

      Just because he’s 66 doesn’t mean he lacks the will to win. Especially in gig as Oiler HC. He’s in it to win it.

      We’re gonna get his very best effort overall and critical thinking in particular, which is nothin’ to sneeze at.

  • Derian Hatcher

    I try my best to not hope for bad things to happen to others…karma and all that.
    But when it comes to Kesler, I would laugh with glee if Looch delivered a strike to his dome hard enough to wipe that gross beard and pathetic smirk off of his ugly mug. As far as Carlyle goes, I wonder if that arrogant garden gnome has learned to make toast yet? When they tie a can to his a$$, it will be well deserved.
    I HATE the Ducks

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    ” . . . I’d still love to know what they were working on and how it differed from McLellan’s game plan.”
    I heard Hitchcock say that he worked specifically on supporting the person with the puck who’s under pressure in the D zone, and more specifically communication techniques to help that player, giving him better options more quickly.

    • Vanhellian

      That support (and/or lack thereof) is the reason the oilers could never seem to make a play under McClellan. Guy with the puck would get pressured while his linemates were off in the distance waiting for the puck to come to them. No plays being made equals no offense. The lack of offense was a coaching problem. Baggedmilk you need to get over this idea that it was all about the roster. Take a look at what Vegas did with a roster full of rejects last season!
      As for Lucic, Hitch said the goals will come eventually, if he gets back to playing his style of game. Another coaching problem imo. Todd had him stuck in a role, playing a system that hurt his play. I’m personally excited to see the improvements that WILL come….

  • Big Boss

    1. I can’t beli Larsson is playing for BOTH teams!

    2. I’m pretty sure Hitch didn’t know Marodys name. The guy didn’t even play 5 minutes last game… the lowest of any player

  • Connor's Girlfriend

    This will be a fun game. All of our bottom 6 forwards and our bottom 4 defenders are going to show Hitch that they understand what he taught them in practice yesterday and can execute it 100% today. Otherwise Hitch will be standing right behind them and they will be constantly reminded what they did wrong. These boys are playing for jobs and minutes right now. The cream will rise to the top starting today.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Hypothetical question: if within 10-12 games the Oilers are squarely competing for a top three spot in the Pacific will Chiarelli still deserve or be viewed as the principal architect of the Oilers fortunes or will folks who current blame Chiarelli for the state of the team suggest there’s a different reason for succeeding? (which there may be)

    • Hemmercules

      I think his job depends on where they are at the trade deadline. If they are in the hunt for a playoff spot, he likely remains at least until the season is over. He probably gets fired after the season should they miss the playoffs. If they make the playoffs I think they will extend Hitch for one year and keep Chia on as well. I’m guessing at this point Chia has to run every move he does by the OBC, Bob and Katz before proceeding.

      In a perfect world, the Oilers make the playoffs and then they fire Chia anyway and find someone better. Even if they make the playoffs some of moves and contracts Chia handed out are inexcusable. If there is a better guy out there thats available they should pounce on it. Including doing after Q if Hitch doesn’t work out.

      • Beer

        The team was built to play one way, and coached to play another. It didn’t work. TM should have been let loose last November.
        Anaheim was taking liberties on the D, and got away with it in the playoffs. A year and a half later, Sykera may never play again. Coaching to turn your back on a teammate that is obviously being targeted is BS.

  • Old school

    I too don’t like the implication of the comment “ the coach took the bullet for the GM” ..everyone agrees that the GM has made some brutal mistakes and probably should also go but that in no way excuses the equally brutal job of coaching with no accountability that TM showed us .. Hitch has created more Hope , confidence and laser like clarity of roles and expectations in 5 minutes that TM did in 3 years

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      Really? Because Todd said and did ALL the right things in his first 2 years. Came in and had these guys playing with pace and purpose. He called them out when they had bad games (5-0 loss to Calgary, 6-2 loss to Buffalo). He had them ignore an CBA mandates day off to bag-skate the team after that Buffalo game and the Oilers won 5 straight after that. Todd was great in his first 2 seasons. Last year is when he started to do the bizarre things.