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Photo Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 24.0: Banged Up Stars (7pm MST, SNW)

The NHL season is filled with unpredictability. It is impossible to predict injuries, and I doubt anyone in the Stars organization would have expected their blueliners on a seemingly endless train through the infirmary. Four of their regulars are out tonight and their starting goalie, Ben Bishop, will miss his fourth game.

Bishop is a big blow. He is expected to return this weekend, but the Stars will try to get through the week without him. The other major loss was 25-minute-man John Klingberg. He finished sixth in Norris Trophy voting last season and was off to another great start with 13 points in 16 games before injuring his hand. He is one of the best puck moving and mobile defenders in the NHL and the Stars have missed him over the past eight games.

They are also without Stephen Johns, Marc Methot and Connor Carrick. In their absence rookie phenom Miro Heiskanen has filled in admirably. The 19-year-old rookie is playing 22:46/game and has faced many of the top players in the NHL. He had a 4-6-10 in 24 games and he has been a positive player at 5×5. The Stars look to have found a gem in Heiskanen.

As good as he’s been, the Stars top-four consists of him, Esa Lindell, Roman Polak and rookie Gavin Bayreuther. Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ lines need to create some offence against them.

Edmonton only has 12 goals in their previous five games. They haven’t produced much offensively, but have allowed 20 goals. They need to bear down at both ends of the rink. If Kyle Brodziak hits the wide open net late in their third period v. Anaheim, the Oilers would have won. Their forwards have missed too many great opportunities.

It is imperative they start burying their great scoring chances. If a defender gets beat people get upset and expect more, and I believe the same should be expected of forwards when they have a great scoring chance.

Anton Khudobin is not Ben Bishop. He is a quality backup goalie, but has never been a starter and he’s allowed 12 goals in the three games without Bishop. The Oilers shooters can’t give him any confidence. When a great chance presents itself, they need to bury it.

As for matchups, expect Connor McDavid’s line to see a lot of the Stars top trio of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alex Radulov. Ken Hitchcock said this morning the reason he has promoted Alex Chiasson onto the top line is because many teams are loading up one line and you have to outscore them.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Chiasson
Caggiula-RNH-Puljujarvi
Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian
Khaira-Spooner-P.Russell

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Gravel-Benning

Koskinen

Chiasson gets a bump to the top line, which is great for him, but he and RNH were just starting to get some chemistry and production on the second line. I’d have kept them together and moved Caggiula back to the top line. He fits in better than Spooner does because he’s a better forechecker and puck retriever for McDavid and Draisaitl. Right now though Chiasson’s stick is red hot so Ken Hitchcock wants to load up one line, similar to tonight’s opposition.

I appreciated the response from Fleury. He’s bang on. Most young players need to adjust their work ethic. It isn’t that they aren’t working hard, but they aren’t working hard at an NHL level. It is different than junior or the minors. Hitchcock will be encouraging Puljujarvi to increase his intensity and desire tonight.

Stars

Benn-Seguin-Radulov
Hintz-Spezza-Shore
Nichushkin-Faksa-Pitlick
Janmark-Dickinson-Comeau

Lindell-Heiskanen
Bayreuther-Polak
Hanley-Fedun

Khudobin

I suspect Hitchcock would like to get the RNH line out against Spezza’s line. The Faksa line, especially he and Tyler Pitlick, were great against top lines last year, and you can expect they will see McDavid at times as well.

The Oilers need to use their speed and try to take advantage of Polak. He is a veteran and knows how to play, but if you can get him in open space they will have a better chance to create scoring opportunities.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Blackout Dallas:

12-10-2 isn’t a terrible spot for the Dallas Stars to be in through 24 games in the 2018-19 season, but it’s also not the best spot.

The Stars currently sit with 24 points in the middle of an overloaded Western Conference playoff race. It’s a good enough mark to hold them in the second wild card spot, but with four points separating them from a top-three spot in the Central division and four teams within four points just below them, it would be folly for Dallas to feel comfortable with 58 games to go in the year.

Now, the Stars have been dealt a pretty tough hand. After trying to balance a first-year head coach and new additions to the roster, Dallas has suffered through the majority of their starting defense (including John Klingberg, Stephen Johns, and Marc Methot) and top players like Alexander Radulov and Ben Bishop missing different portions of the season.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Oilers get a much needed victory with a 5-3 win.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: The PP continues its hot streak by scoring a PP goal in five of their previous six games. Chiasson scores his 11th of the season.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Dallas is the only team in the NHL McDavid is averaging a goal-per-game against. He scores his eighth goal eight games against the Stars. In fact he scores twice.

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Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • The future never comes

    The bottom 6 players have a combined 5 goals, that has to be the league worse for bottom 6 production. Our defense has collected 4 goals total, that I assume is league worse also. This is with no research, but it’s so terrible I would bet money on it.

  • Total Points

    Hitch seems no better than Tmac. Why he would sit Rattie is a mystery?

    I hope the Oileres lose 6 – 0 tonight so Chai gets fired. If the Flyers can fire the GM so can the Oilers.

    Katz – grow a pair

    • TKB2677

      Rattie had a great preseason. Hitch has been here for what, barely a week? What exactly was Rattie doing BEFORE Hitch got here. I went to several Oilers games and watched every other game and I can’t remember the last time I saw Rattie do much of anything. Maybe I am missing something.

      Rattie is a fringe NHL who needs to play well and CONTRIBUTE in some way to establish himself as a full time NHLer. Just because a player isn’t gifted McDavid time, doesn’t mean he gets a free pass for doing nothing. I look at Chiasson. He was a PTO guy making league minimum. He didn’t even start in the Oilers line up on opening night for that first week and a bit and has played 6 games less than any other player. I think he missed 1 game because he was sick. He came in on the 4th line and made an immediate impact. He did something to get noticed. Gradually, he worked his way up and has continued to make an impact. He’s 3rd on the team in goals now.

    • Randomfan

      Katz only care about growing his bank accounts. Firing PC will do the same things what firing TM did: absolutely nothing. Not atleast for this season. Its a lost cause.

      • BobbyCanuck

        Yes, Chia has done irreparable damage thanks to his management of the salary cap, the only solution is to make him a figure head, ride out his contract, and reset yet again

  • Randomfan

    Dallas lost their last game against avalanche. Its hard to see them lose 2 in a row. Its easier to see oilers lose 1st home game right after the road trip. Bottom of the standings here we come!

  • MLega97

    OGDP: Pitlick scores against his old team, never fails. Or somebody who is in a scoring slump, they always seem to get out of it when playing the Oil. Hope I’m wrong though.

  • CaptainCanada94

    Is there anyone out there who thinks that Chiarelli is doing a competent job? I am by no means qualified to be a GM of a sports franchise, however I don’t think my arm chair friends and I could have managed assets any worse. Chiarelli was gifted a dream position upon hire, and where are we since? Please fire Chiarelli ASAP before more damage is done.

    Luckily the Pacific Division is wide open and we shouldn’t be out of the race by Christmas (as per usual.) HOWEVER, get a GM in now who can start assessing the team and who can be A) a Competent Buyer at Trade Deadline or B) A Competent Seller at Trade deadline. (Obviously B is more likely, but stranger things in the NHL has happened…Im still optimistic for A)

    All that being said, games like this VS Kings on Sunday and Stars tonight cannot be wasted. These are golden opportunities to bank points on flawed or injured teams.

    At least play some meaningful hockey coming down the stretch my gosh! In the meantime, Katz will not get any ticket revenue from myself or friends until change is made. This 3 year renewal period is expiring which should be interesting to say the least…

    Lastly, I was born in 88 so Hitchcock coaching against the Stars behind the Oilers bench is a little strange. Sure would be fitting to win.

        • Gravis82

          Chassion is better. Cajjulia is better. Puljujarvi is better. Rattie is not suited for 3rd 4th line play. I’m not sure what is the issue here with Rattie

          • Delirious

            Caggiula is in no form better than Rattie. Sure he skates and hits but every time he has the puck he loses it by getting bumped off of it. Chiasson has a shooting percentage that can not be maintained and is sure to drop off. Plus we need secondary scoring with RNHs line which was starting to find chemistry with Chiasson. And you ask why Rattie? Because he’s known to be a finisher. His whole hockey career he has been. We even saw it when he was given a chance last year and early this year. To play with McDavid you don’t need speed or all kinds of skill. Just hockey IQ and be able to read plays so that he can hit you with a pass. (Ex. Maroon).

          • oiler_head

            He might not have been scoring goals but he showed he can effectively get the puck to McDavid and Nuge and Draisatl in the pre-season. Sure pre-season is not the same as THE season but that more explains why Rattie isn’t scoring. He should have been given his place back on the first line when he returned from injury.

    • Real Oiler Fan since 83

      Couldn’t agree more. Rattie has undeniable chemistry with97. It is a complete joke what Hitch is doing to Ty. I love Hitch but it seems like a childish grudge he is holding against him. What has Spooner done to prove he is worthy of dressing night in and night out. I feel like this is a huge mistake. And Delerious you are right, you need contracts like Rattie to be successful in a salary cap league. #playrattie

  • OldOilFan

    PC’s mantra over the past two years was was all about “handedness,” especially R shots.

    Here’s what we’ve got today:
    Chaisson (R) 1LW
    Draisaital (L) 1 RW
    K.Russell (L) 2RD
    Rattie (R) scratched

    what a laugh… almost as funny as 5L on 1st PP….

    can it get any sillier with this team??

  • Hemmercules

    Kokinenen is in net so they have a chance in this one but Im going to say a late third period goal sinks them 4-3. JP doesn’t crack 10 minutes I bet.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    Oilers will win tonight due to the fact that Koskinen is starting.
    They don’t get excited when they see Talbot in net.
    Talbot makes them nervous and more defensively minded.
    5-2 Oilers.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      I’d like to think that changed after last game. Talbot was the only one to show up in the first 10 minutes. Could’ve been 3-1 after 1 if it wasn’t for Cam. But sure, just continue your deluded campaign of “he’s not a number 1 goaltender”

      • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

        And before you come back with “he’s not”, here ar his numbers the last 3 seasons.

        15-16: 21-27-5 2.55 GAA, .917sv% (above average)
        16-17: 42-22-8 2.39 GAA, .919sv% (above average, snubbed of Vezina candidacy)
        17-18: 31-31-3 3.02 GAA, .908sv% (below average goaltending)

        But sure, he’s not a starter, even though the numbers say otherwise.

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    …and the amazing thing is that the Oil is 3 points out of a playoffs spot with a couple games in hand. After all of this crap. Ah, to play in the Mighty Pacific.