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Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 32.0: Goin’ to Winnipeg (6pm MST, SNW)

Confidence, momentum, consistency, attention to detail and a portion of luck lead to winning streaks in the NHL. Since Ken Hitchcock was hired the Oilers are 8-2-1, their second 8-2-1 stretch of the season in fact, and have been one of the best teams in the NHL.

They picked the perfect time to play well, because their 17 points are sixth best in the NHL since November 19th, and three Pacific Division foes are in the top five. Tampa Bay is 10-2, Calgary is 9-2-1, Washington and Anaheim are 9-2, while Vegas is 9-3. Over the past 24 days the Oilers have righted their ship and been able to keep pace in the suddenly surging Pacific Division, and they’ve accomplished that playing against some good teams. All their opponents over the past 11 games, except St.Louis, are among the top 16 in points accumulated since November 19th.

And tonight they face another strong test against the Jets, who have the seventh most points, 16, since November 19th, and I’m certain they remember blowing a three-goal, third period lead at home to Edmonton on October 16th.

The Jets are a very good team with a lot of depth, especially on the blueline. Their entire top-six is healthy again and currently Tyler Myers is in their third pair, because Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien are the top-two right defenders. Talk about a plethora of quality right shot defenders. Toss in Josh Morrissey, who is arguably their most consistent defender, Dmitri Kulikov and Ben Chairot, and it is easy to see why the Jets are a Stanley Cup contender.

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They also have six legit top-six forwards on their top two lines.

This will be a monumental test for the Oilers defence core with Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell out of the lineup. Caleb Jones and his sticks arrived in Winnipeg last night, but as of this morning’s skate his hockey bag had yet to arrive. Because of that we will likely see Jason Garrison and Chris Wideman in the third pair tonight.

Cam Talbot is going to be tested often, I suspect, and he might need to mirror Mikko Koskinen’s first 35 minutes in Colorado on Tuesday, when he stoned the Avalanche until the Oilers forwards woke up and pumped in four goals in just over seven minutes in the second period. Talbot has played very well in his previous two starts and if he wants to get starts every two or three games he will need another strong performance.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Chiasson-McDavid-Draisaitl
Khaira-RNH-Puljujarvi
Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian
Caggiula-Spooner-Rieder

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Nurse-Larsson
Gravel-Benning
Garrison-Wideman

Talbot

Captain obvious points out the blueline isn’t ideal. Nurse and Larsson will play a lot tonight, but if the Oilers find themselves behind a few goals I’m interested to see if Trent Yawney keeps them around 25 minutes, instead of closer to 30, with a game tomorrow in Edmonton. Playing back-to-back games in Winnipeg and Edmonton is a tough go due to the travel time.

The Oilers had to make a roster move to activate Tobias Rieder, so they placed Kris Russell on IR, meaning he is out for both games this weekend as well. Taking Zykov and Rattie out of the lineup were pretty easy decisions at this point. Zykov has no shots in three games and doesn’t skate well enough for me. Hitchcock isn’t the biggest fan of Rattie, and I’m not sure he will get much of an opportunity unless we see some injuries.

Jets

Ehlers-Scheifele-Wheeler
Connor-Little-Laine
Perreault-Lowry-Tanev
Lemieux-Roslovic-Appleton

Morrissey-Trouba
Chiarot-Byfuglien
Kulikov-Myers

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Hellebuyck

Once again the Jets have five forwards on pace for 55+ points. Wheeler leads them with 5-33-38, while Patrik Laine has 21 goals and Mark Schiefele has 17. The Jets PP is best in the NHL at 30.3%. The Oilers just faced Colorado, who were first on the PP entering Tuesday’s game, and allowed only one goal on six chances. The Oilers need to limit their penalties tonight, especially with Klefbom and Russell out of the lineup. Russell is second on the Oilers in PK TOI with 65 minutes, while Klefbom is fourth at 59. Kevin Gravel (19min) and Matt Benning (30min) will see more PK work tonight.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Jetsnation:

Jets to watch: #17 Adam Lowry – Center

Son Of Dave is one point away from 100 in his NHL career and it’s still a little bit amazing at times that he is still a Winnipeg Jet when you consider that two short seasons ago he was practically on everyone’s short list of players that should be offered up to the Vegas Golden Knights.

His scoring numbers have dipped a slight bit this season as he’s become primarily the team’s go-to defensive center, but four of his last six games have seen him be a bit more agressive with scoring chances with three registered shots on goal – he had gone 12 previous games managing one or no shots at all – and while the offense is starting to come around, he’s remained a steady presence on a Jets third line that has seen it’s share of different linemates over the last few weeks.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jets offence combined with a depleted Oilers blueline equals a 4-2 Jets victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Laine scores a PP goal.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The “Grindentity” line scores again. People flood his twitter with suggestions for a goal song for the trio. He hates the name, and while fans are upset about the loss they take some solace in pressuring Nielson to make a Grindentity song.

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MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you Richard and Lucas for their great bids and to A1Heating and Urban Tavern for the awesome packages.

DAY NINE: Gas and Hockey courtesy of Hughes

Image result for hughes petroleum logo

  • $1,000 in Hughes Gift cards to be used for fuel or car washes.
  • Four tickets in their Theatre Box at Rogers Place on January 1st at 2 p.m. for the Edmonton Oil Kings. It includes dinner and an underground parking pass.
  • Pair of seats to Oilers/Canucks (row 22) on December 27th.

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 proceeds will help out Santas Anonymous.

Package #2: Pyramid of Giving

Adopt-A-Teen Edmonton is well short of their fundraising goal. They supply a $50 gift card to teens so they don’t go without at Christmas. Being a teenager is tough. You are trying to figure out who you are, dealing with hormones, relationships and at times it is very awkward time of our life. We do a lot for kids at Christmas, but many teenagers are left out and today we will help them.

We will have a pyramid of giving.

Eight people will donate $100
Six people will donate $200
Four people will donate $500
One person will donate $1000

We will raise $5000 and help 100 teens today. You can be part of the Pyramid by texting your donation to 101260 between 2-6 p.m today.

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  • bwar

    Time to make Safeway pony up again. I what to see the Oiler’s firing with all cylinders offensively tonight. Can’t have another half assed effort from Draisaitl. Defense is taking the night off, tonight will be all about scoring goals and lots of them.

  • giddy

    On one hand, you want to show up to every game because this is the NHL, and anything can happen. Fate loves the fearless; you see over confident teams come in and get rolled by teams who are much worse on paper all the time (the 2010-11 Oilers, arguably one of the worst teams iced in this era, won 25 games). The Pacific is getting crazy and the Oil need to hang around because a wildcard spot isn’t guaranteed.

    On the other hand, why risk further injury by having guys like Larsson, Nurse, Benning and Gravel play massive minutes, when if any of them goes down, the ship will really be sinking?

    P.S. it’s wild to me that pretty much any of their defensemen, except spare Kulikov, are essentially better than any of our d being iced tonight. I’d probably take Larsson over Chiarot, though.

    • OldOilFan

      Yep, the Jets are legitimately better -by stats- in most categories. They are solid. Maybe a President’s Trophy team. The Oil are a bit of a rag-tag outfit by comparison.
      However, the NHL is a sport where the President’s Trophy winner usually does NOT sit at the top when the playoffs end, that same season.

      The Oil just need to “hang around” in the playoff hunt. Make the dance. Then it’s a “new season.” And McD is the great equalizer in a 7 game series…

  • CaptainCanada94

    Was at the game in Winnipeg when we came back from 4-1…how sweet that was. McDavid in the third period was pure magic. The crowd knew a scoring chance was coming the moment he touched the puck. Jets had no Bfyuglien in the game, which I’m sure Connor will see a lot of this game.

    Stating the obvious, but tonight’s game will be determined by lines 2-3, as well as the ability of our Defence making simple plays in our own zone. Chip it out and do not let this team cycle.

    Crossing fingers that Talbot keeps progressing as well. Making that one save at key moments can change the outcome of the game.

    GDP: 3-1 Oilers final.

  • OldOilFan

    Looks like the Oil are intelligently preparing to lose this one unless they get lucky. In hockey terms, and even as an Oiler fan, I don’t blame them. The season is a “war of attrition,” meaning you can’t win every battle. Sometimes you have to rest and regroup. This game might be that time.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    I know they’re trying to showcase Talbot against good completion, but tonight it will bite the Oilers in the @$$.
    Oilers offense will come up short trying to keep up with the goals Talbot allows.
    Talbot groupies will come out and blame his p!$$ poor performance on the defense.
    Chia will also get blamed for the uncontrollable unforeseen injuries.

    • Hemmercules

      Unforeseen?? You are talking about a guy with the highest number of blocked shots in the NHL and a guy that gets injured every single season. I would say it was fairly obvious that one of the two would miss time this year. Chia has failed to build a quality NHL defence so far, that’s a fact. The Oilers have desperately needed another top 4 dman for the last 12 years. I hope the kids can step up, I think they can but they will have to battle for their lives to get past the Jets.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      “Goals Talbot allows”? You do realize that Cam is sporting a .925 sv% since Hitchcock took over. AND he’s riding a 2-game win streak after beating St. Louis 3-2 and Minnesota 7-2. Jesus Christ you people are quick to turn on people. Terence was right, people like you are part of the problem, not the solution

  • Hockeytalkguy

    And there is the difference between Talbot and Koskinen. That 1st jets goal Perrault was just walking out of the corner and Talbot was already on his knees. Simply BRUTAL!

  • Hockeytalkguy

    .875 save percentage tonight. You can trash this all you want but you can’t win games with tending like that. That was a 4-2 win with Koskinen in net.

    • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      You can’t win with an .875, but Hellebuyck had an .846
      But the Jets had 17 shots in the 3rd to the Oilers 2 shots. TWO SHOTS.
      So how does that work exactly?
      What should Talbot have done? Joined the rush?

      • Hockeytalkguy

        Hey, your absolutely correct that the oil got outplayed & outshot bad in the 3rd. All I’m saying is Koskinen stops everything that Talbot stopped in 3rd period, plus goal #4. Add to that the stinker Laine scored. So No I don’t want Talbot to join the rush, I just would like him to do something lWELL that he is paid to do….and that’s to stop the puck AND quit letting in muffins.

        • Rugbypig

          Wow Hockeytalkguy you’re “The Hole” mark 2.0
          Goals happen.
          Talbot had Oilers in game
          Thats what we all want
          3 out of 4 thats fantastic
          Yes Everyone wants the Oilers to win, some recognize the effort . . . . . . . some cannot, sadly.

  • Redbird62

    If I understand the IR rules correctly which is a minimum of 7 days, Russell won’t be eligible to return until the Lightning game on the 22nd. So at least 4 games. The 3 games after tonight are against currently non-playoff teams, but it is doubtful the Oilers are a playoff caliber team missing 3 of their top 4 or 5 defensemen. And to have to adjust to 2 missing at once will be an added challenge for tonight. Garrison has only played 6 games since November 1, and none in the last 2 weeks. Wideman has only played 2 games since he was acquired 3 weeks ago. I am guessing Hitch will go with a simple conservative game plan (maybe the rope a dope – McDavid always gives ’em a punchers chance in a low scoring game.

    • OldOilFan

      Agree, the odds are overwhelming [against us/Oilers]. Still, both teams’ rosters are made up of NHL players. So anything can happen, on any given night.
      I don’t bet on hockey, but this is a game where an Oiler win would pay pretty well, I imagine?

  • _Bubba

    I’ll jump in with a crazy prediction…Somebody forgets to tell Chiasson and Kassian we’re supposed to lose this one, and they light up Hellebuck…4-2 Oil..