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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 26.0: Let’s try that again – Part Deux (8pm MST, CBC)

Welcome, friends, to a Hockey Night in Canada edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for the second game in the season series between the Edmonton Oilers and Las Vegas Golden Knights. 

On Thursday night, the Oilers got some sweet, sweet revenge against a Los Angeles Kings team that dusted them off quite handily in their first meeting of the season and I’m hoping for more of the same against Vegas. Coming into tonight’s game, the Golden Knights are the hottest team in the division, winning five straight games and looking a lot more like the team that went to the Cup Finals than the basement dwellers from earlier in the year. During this win streak, the Knights have been getting goals in bunches from throughout their lineup, outscoring their opponents 22-8 over that span. With offence coming from everywhere, the Oilers are going to have to make sure their defensive game is dialled in because the last thing they want is to get into a run and gun style game with a team that’s putting a lot more pucks in the net than they are right now.

When these two teams met up two weeks ago, the Oilers managed to put together a decent first period before letting the wheels fall off entirely. During a span of 2:12 at the start of the second period, Vegas pumped three straight goals past Talbot, erasing the Oilers’ one-goal lead and sucking the life out of Rogers Place. It was a disaster. I know they played (and lost) the night before in Calgary, but the team was so flat that it actually looked like they had no interest in being there for the last 40 minutes. As it turns out, that disastrous collapse would be the last time we would see Todd McLellan behind the bench. Needless to say, a lot has changed in the 12 days that followed. Since making the coaching change, the Oilers are 3-1-1 and could actually have had a better record than that if some luck went their way. Now the key will be trying to keep that improvement coming against the Pacific Division, something Vegas has had a lot of success with.

The Golden Knights are 7-1-1 against the Pacific Division so far this season and it’s a huge reason they’re currently sitting in a playoff spot. If the Oilers want to get in on that action then these are the games they’re going to have to find a way to come up with two points in regulation. To this point, and admittedly there have only been six games, the Oilers have struggled a little bit within the division and it’s mostly because they’ve been unable to prevent costly goals at the worst possible moments. We’ve seen full period no-shows, last minute heartbreakers, bad starts, and seemingly every other variety of weird way to lose a hockey game that there can be, but things are starting to look up a little bit. By my eye, the Oilers have done a better job of keeping things locked down in their own zone but are still struggling to get much in the way of secondary scoring. Considering Vegas is getting all kinds of secondary scoring from their lineup, the Oilers are going to have to either shut them down or find a way to match their output if two points are to be in the cards.

NUMBERS

OILERS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
RECORD 12-11-2 14-12-1
WIN/LOSS STREAK W2 W5
GOALS FOR 68 81
GOALS AGAINST 78 76
POWER PLAY 22.8 19.1
PENALTY KILL 75.3 83.5
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 31.2 33.3
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 29.9 27.4
TEAM SAVE% .904 .902
CORSI FOR% 50.62 55.51
PDO 98.34 97.39
TEAM SHOOTING% 5.94 7.31
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 51.97 56.18

Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUP…

Oilers

Draisaitl – McDavid – Chiasson
Caggiula – RNH – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian
Khaira – Spooner – Rattie

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Benning

Koskinen

Jack Michaels tweeted yesterday that Mikko Koskinen was getting the start tonight and it’s hard to argue with the logic. The big man has been rock solid since taking over the starting duties and I’m really hoping that Hitchcock doesn’t push away from the table on this heater we’re on. I’m not among the people that think the team should just get rid of Talbot because he’s struggling, but I certainly do think that Koskinen has done more than enough to take the ball and run with it for a little while. Looking at the forward group, it looks like Ty Rattie will be getting back into the lineup on the 4th line as the newly acquired Valentin Zykov was not on the ice with his new team at this morning’s practice.

Golden Knights

Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Pacioretty – Eakin – Tuch
Nosek – Carpenter – Carr
Carrier – Bellemare – Reaves

McNabb – Schmidt
Theodore – Engelland
Holden – Miller

Fleury

Coming into this game, the Golden Knights have seven players with 15 points or more, including Shea Theodore who’s doing it from the point. By comparison, the Oilers have three players with 15 points or more and I’m pretty sure you can guess who they are. Vegas is getting the kind of secondary scoring that we can only dream about and I’ll be interested to see how the newly Hitchcock-led Oilers handle it defensively. They’ve been better at suppressing shots since Hitch has come aboard and they’ll likely need some of that defensive genius tonight.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From The Sin Bin:

In Vegas’ past seven victories, the sizzling second line has combined for 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists), averaging two goals per game and four points per game. Plus, since they were put together, they’ve been on the ice for 10 goals for and just five against.

During this holiday winning stretch, Pacioretty raised his goal total from two to ten. Tuch has gone from nine to nineteen points, and Eakin continues his hot pace with a combined 17 points. Pacioretty is aiming for 30 goals, and the other two second-liners are on pace to set career highs.

But most importantly, since the second line’s consistency over the past 15 days, Vegas went from being a basement dweller to a team tied for second place in the Pacific Division. Mostly because of their dominance over said Pacific Division.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Just as they did on Thursday night against the Kings, the Oilers avenge their loss against the Golden Knights with a strong defensive performance and a 3-2 win in regulation.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: The refs remain consistent with another shocking performance that comes complete with missed calls for both teams. They want to be stars too, and they’ll do everything in their power to get that attention.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Behind closed doors, Bob Nicholson gets to work on the upcoming Bobby Nicks Game Day Nuggets. The initial sampling is a huge success which makes him decide that they will charge $41 for six. Great deal, in his opinion.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/01/2018 – 12:00 pm MST