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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 28.0: Beat Up Blues (6pm MST, SNW)

Oilersnation watched in frustration, and some fear, when the Oilers played without Connor McDavid. It didn’t paint a pretty picture, but thankfully for the Oilers he will return to the lineup tonight.

The St.Louis Blues aren’t as lucky. They are tied for last place in the NHL and tonight they will be without five regulars. Their best defenceman, Alex Pietrangelo has a hand injury and might need surgery, Alex Steen has concussion like symptoms, Robbi Fabbri is out again, this time with a separated shoulder, while Carl Gunnarsson and Jaden Schwartz are out with upper body injuries.

The Blues were picked to make the playoffs by every pre-season prognosticator, but 25 games into the season they are struggling with a league-low nine victories.

The Blues made a lot of changes in the off-season, via trade or free agency, bringing in Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak and Chad Johnson. It hasn’t worked out how they’d hoped.

Starter Jake Allen is 7-7-3 with a .896sv% and a 3.24 GAA, while Johnson is 2-6 with a .889sv% and 3.51 GAA.

The Blues’ offence is 25th in goals despite the new faces, and they have the seventh worst GAA at 3.40. They planned on having a balanced offensive attack, but so far it hasn’t transpired.

O’Reilly has been very good with 12 goals and 28 points in 25 games, and Perron has eight goals and 15 points, but Bozak only has three goals and Maroon has one. Their biggest challenge is they can’t keep the puck out of their net. They’ve been dominated at 5×5, being outscored 61-46. They’ve allowed the second most 5×5 goals/game this season.

The Oilers are far from an offensive juggernaut at 5×5, but tonight presents a rare time where they should be able to score a few. If they can is another story. The Oilers are 29th in 5×5 goals with 41, and only Los Angeles and Arizona have scored fewer.

Tonight we see a team struggling to score at 5×5 v. a team struggling to defend at 5×5. With Pietrangelo out of the lineup, and McDavid returning, in theory you’d think the offence at 5×5 would have an advantage, but as we’ve seen too often this year that hasn’t been the case.

Ken Hitchcock is hoping some depth players can find their offence. Ryan Spooner and Jujhar Khaira have each scored recently, and maybe their goals will give them a boost. The Oilers desperately need someone not named McDavid, Draisailt, Nugent-Hopkins or Chiasson to produce.

LINEUP…

Oilers

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

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Gravel-Benning

Talbot

Khaira gets a bump in place of the injured Drake Caggiula. Caggiula has a hand issue. McDavid and Spooner return to give the Oilers some more speed. Khaira scored his first of the season, and the reason he gets bumped is because Milan Lucic hasn’t scored in 26 games. He hasn’t scored in North America this season. Ouch.

Cam Talbot gets his first start in ten days and will be looking for his first win since October 28th.  He has lost his last six starts allowing 23 goals on 159 shots. He has a .855sv% in this rough stretch. He needs to find his game. Kevin Woodley from In Goal Magazine said this about Talbot: ” He is getting caught making one or two bad reads every game and that has cost him. He looks hesitant at times. Making better reads is on the goalie and once he eliminates those his game should come around.”

Talbot needs to find his game, as much for him as for the Oilers. With every rough start he is costing himself millions on his next contract. It is the harsh reality of pro sports. We often hear about players having career years in the final year of a contract, but there are just as many players who struggle in that final season. Talbot doesn’t need to be all world tonight, he just needs to be steady, and as Woodley points out, make the right reads.

Blues

Sanford-O’Reilly-Thomas
Perron-Schenn-Kyrou
Maroon-Bozak-Tarasenko
Nolan-Barbashev-Sundqvist

Edmundson-Parayko
Dunn-Bortozzo
Bouwmeester-Butler

Allen

New interim head coach Craig Berube is switching up his lines due to injury, but also to try and get some players going. They’d love Tarasenko to be better. He has 20 points, but has given up a lot. It is interesting to see O’Reilly flanked by Thomas and Sanford. Will they stick with that all game?

In the odd-stat-of-the-day the Blues are leading the NHL, for the second time in three seasons, with the most too-many-men-on-the-ice penalties. They have 26 over the past three years, tied for the most with the Ottawa Senators.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From St. Louis Game Time:

The 2018-19 season marks the worst start for the Blues in over ten years. You have to kick it back to the Mike Kitchen post-lockout Blues to hear this kind of sad music coming from 14th and Clark. Every home game should be accompanied by a few bottles of Abita Purple Haze ale down the street at Broadway Oyster Bar where a bluesy guitar is played until three in the morning.

It’s not pretty or something that fans should be happy with. After all, August gave many fans around St. Louis the feel-good vibes. It wasn’t just the arrival of Ryan O’Reilly or the return of Pat Maroon to his hometown; the Blues carried some genuine excitement. However, sometimes a great trailer is simply camouflage for a bad movie. That’s the case with this team.

While the special teams for this team STILL rank in the top ten in the NHL, just about everything else is less than mediocre for the Blues. Outside of O’Reilly’s dazzling start, which includes 12 goals and 28 points in just 25 games, the entire roster is either a disappointment or not good enough.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid’s streak of 222 games played ended on Monday. He hates not playing and with his father in the crowd he picks up three points in a 4-2 Oilers win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nolan and Kassian drop the mitts as both players try to get their teams emotionally involved.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Khaira picks up his first career goal and point v. the Blues. He scores in consecutive games for the second time in his career.

Month of Giving

Thank you to Trent and Glen for their generous bids and to Mr. Derk for the awesome suit package.

Day Three:

Package #1:

  • Pub party for 10 at On The Rocks. Includes meals and beverages for all.
  • $400 GC from On The Rocks as well as a Crab Boil (for eight)
  • Pair of tickets (row 23) to the Oilers/Flames game this weekend.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Package #2: Tee It Up.

Image result for the ranch golf course edmonton

  • 10 rounds of golf at the Ranch Golf and Country Club (hole 8 above) with a power cart for each round and use of driving range before every round.
  • One round of golf for three people with their Head Pro Shawn Piercey.
  • One round of golf for two with GM Murray McCourt and Kevin Karius from Global TV. This is a spirited match and usually involves some friendly “wagering.”

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out the Christmas Bureau and Brightfield Elementary breakfast program (A Rotary Club of Edmonton Mayfield initiative).

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/05/2018 – 11:00 am MT