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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 29.0: Wild About Talbot (7pm MST, SNW)

Cam Talbot makes consecutive starts for the first time since November 8th and 11th v. Florida and Colorado respectively. Talbot was pulled 25 minutes into the Colorado game after allowing three goals on 14 shots. Since then he’s only started three of the next eleven games, but after a solid performance in St.Louis on Wednesday, head coach Ken Hitchcock is giving Talbot an opportunity to build his confidence and find the form he had in 2016/2017.

In his 16 starts Talbot has had a save% of .906 or worse ten times. The other six games he’s posted sv% of .969, .969, .958, .933, .931 and .926. He has either been very good, or he’s struggled. He goes back in the net tonight looking to find some consistency.

The tough reality for Talbot or Mikko Koskinen, who will start Sunday against Calgary, is they have to be very good every night if they hope to win, because the Oilers offence is MIA.

Edmonton has a paltry 12 goals in their past seven games, but despite the pop-gun offence the Oilers have managed to go 4-2-1. Koskinen has been very good in his starts, and Talbot was very good in St.Louis.

The Oilers can’t expect their goalies to allow only two goals every game. At some point the offence needs to wake the hell up.

Creating shots and chances is one thing, but the forwards, and to a lesser extent the defencemen, need to start finishing their chances.

Oscar Klefbom and Alex Chiasson have three goals during these seven games and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has two. The rest of the team has four.

Connor McDavid has one goal on 26 shots.
Leon Draisaitl has none on 15 shots.
Kyle Brodiak (12), Zack Kassian (10) and Milan Lucic (7) have combined for 29 shots, which is good, but they have no goals. That’s crushing. We expect goalies to make saves, and I think it is equally fair to expect the skaters to start burying their chances. They can’t keep making goalies look great night after night.

The Wild lost 2-0 in Calgary last night. The game ended with some feistiness as Matt Dumba levelled Mikael Backlund with a hard hit in the final minute. Earlier in the third period, Mark Giordano’s knee caught Mikko Koivu. The Wild outshot the Flames 31-20, and played well, so despite the loss they come to Edmonton feeling good, and probably a bit irritable. The Oilers can’t afford to sleepwalk through the first period like they did in St. Louis.

Talbot found his game in St.Louis, and while we wait to see if he maintains it, the bigger onus should be on the offence to wake up.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Chiasson-McDavid-Draisaitl
Khaira-RNH-Puljujarvi
Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian
Zykov-Spooner-Rattie

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Russell
Gravel-Benning

Talbot

Khaira remains in the top-six because he is actually producing some offence recently. Valentin Zykov makes his Oilers debut and he, Spooner and Rattie have offensive potential. Spooner is the only one who has had consistent success at the NHL level, but all three of these guys need to make a statement and grab Hitchcock’s attention. Play well enough that it forces him to play them similar minutes to the Brodziak line.

You only get so many opportunities, and if they don’t play with urgency right away they might not get a better chance. Zykov and Rattie have shown they can score at the AHL level, and while I don’t expect 30 goals from either player in the NHL, chipping in 12-15 would all but guarantee them a spot in this offensively-starved lineup.

Wild

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

Suter -Spurgeon
Brodin-Dumba
Seeler-Pateryn

Dubnyk

Interesting how the Wild started Stalock last night against the division leading Flames, but will play Dubnyk tonight in Edmonton. Are they going with the strategy they want to play their best goalie against the weaker team? Could be. Or they are going with the “former team” angle. I suspect it is a bit of both.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Hockey Wilderness:

Following the ugly 3rd period that occurred last night (Thursday) in Calgary, the Wild will have limited time to re-group and find themselves. And they will most likely have to find themselves without Mikko Koivu, after he left the game in the 3rd after taking a knee-on-knee hi t from Mark Giordano. As for the team as a whole, another loss resulted in Minnesota dropping to 9th in the Western Conference, as the wheels continue to turn.

As for their opponent tonight, the Edmonton Oilers have won 4 of their last 5 games, including a 3-2 shoot-out victory Wednesday night over St. Louis. The Oilers are led by Connor McDavid… Ever heard of the kid? He’s pretty good. Just how good you ask? Well, he leads the Oilers in goals, assists, and points so far this season, and Edmonton sits 2 points behind Minnesota in the Western Conference, so it’s a big two points up for grabs.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers have won three in a row at home. They haven’t won four consecutive home games since winning their final eight home games in 2017. It is very difficult to be a playoff team if you can’t win regularly at home. Oilers win in a bit of an upset 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Zykov scores his fifth career goal and first with the Oilers.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Minnesota allowed the first goal of the game a league-high 19 times, however they are 10-8-1 when the opposition scores first. They score first tonight, only the ninth time this season, but they relinquish the lead.

Month of Giving

Thank you to Jeremy for his wonderful bid and to Lakewood Chev for the great Loge package. Also a huge shout out to all who donated in our Pyramid of Giving.

Day Five:

Package #1:

Chop Logo - Colour NEW

  • Dinner for six at Jason Strudwick’s home catered by Chop Steakhouse. You and five friends will dine with Struds, me are our wives.
  • It will be a five-course dinner with wine pairings as well as special hand crafted cocktails.  CHOP will personalize the menu to the guest’s tastes.
  • Chef Jonathan Ruby will prepare all of the food. He has worked at some of the best restaurants in the world. His most recent
    is Le Bernardin with Chef Eric Ripert.
  • Brad German will be preparing the wine and cocktails,
  • Your party of eight will be picked up and driven home by Blue Sky Limos.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Package #2:

  • Four Loge seats in the Oilers attacking end for 1st and 3rd period courtesy of Trilogy Rentals.
  • A $400 tab to use at your loge for food and beverages.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All money raised will help out the Christmas Bureau and Santas Anonymous.

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