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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 35.0: Attack Allen Early (7pm MST, SNW)

My mother is one of the most well-read people I’ve ever met. She has read over 10,000 books and earlier this year, while renovating her living room, she installed a bookcase across an entire wall. It is filled with books of various genres. It’s almost like having a library in your own home. (She actually just finished writing her first novel — more on that later.) She loves reading and learning, and while she is very much an intellect, I will always remember the advice she gave to my brother and me when we were little.

In grade one, some kid kept bullying my brother at school and stealing his toys in class. “Next time he does it, you look him right in the eye and say, ‘please stop,'” mom said to my brother. “If he doesn’t, then you ask him again to stop. If he continues then you tell him, ‘If you do it one more time I will have no choice but to punch you.'” Then she added, “And if you decide to punch him, make sure you hit him first and hit him hard enough he won’t get up.”

I’m sure some oversensitive parent today thinks this is bad parenting, but at some point you need to stand up for yourself, especially after two warnings, and take matters into your own hands, rather than tattle to the teacher. My brother ended up socking the kid one day, and after that he never bullied him again, so the lesson worked. I think the lesson also applies to sports.

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It is always better to gain an advantage early or, shall we say, land the first blow.

Scoring first in the NHL is still a major advantage. The Edmonton Oilers are 12-5-2 when they score first and 6-8-1 when they give up the first goal. Scoring first doesn’t guarantee you victory, but it gives you an early advantage and often teams can carry that momentum through the game.

The St.Louis Blues are struggling. They are 3-12-1 when the opposition scores first and 9-3-3 when they score first, but lately netminder Jake Allen has really struggled out of the gate.

In the past four games he has allowed ten first period goals on 40 shots. The Calgary Flames scored four goals on 16 shots on Saturday and Allen didn’t return for the second period. Three games earlier the Vancouver Canucks pumped three goals past him, on only six shots, in the first 14 minutes of the game and he was done for the night.

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The Blues are fragile and if the Oilers can get to Allen early, you know he and his teammates will be thinking, “Here we go again.” The mental aspect of the NHL plays a major role for every player and for collective teams. Score the first goal, and a team can get an early boost, and if it is one of your best offensive players then they often have more pep in their step the remainder of the game.

It can also work the other way, especially for losing teams. They give up an early goal, and doubt creeps into their mind a lot quicker than it would for a winning team. Players try to block it out, and good teams do, but it is not a surprise that since Connor McDavid arrived in the NHL (2015/2016 season), no NHL team has a winning record when they surrender the first goal.

Only three teams have a winning% over .400 when allowing the first goal during the past 280 games. Washington is 60-56-16, Pittsburgh went 56-58-13 and Tampa Bay is 61-65-17.

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In those 280 games the Oilers are 44-87-15 when the opposition scores first, but they are 88-35-11 when they score first. I recall someone trying to suggest the second goal was equally important, but that doesn’t jive for me. When you score first you get the early advantage, and it allows you to go up 2-0 and gain a bigger advantage, but it also allows you to surrender a goal and be right back to even. If you don’t score first you have zero chance of going ahead 2-0.

The Blues have been on their heels all season. They’ve never won more than two games in a row and they’ve only done that three times. They are 4-6-2 on the road and have allowed four or more goals in half of their road games. In their four victories they’ve only allowed one first period goal, and in their eight losses they’ve allowed eight first period goals.

The Oilers need to land the first goal (punch) tonight against a Blues team that has proven to have a weak chin so far this season.

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*A quick moment for a son to brag. My mother’s first novel, I, the Woman, Planted the Tree, was released earlier this month and is now available on Amazon.  It will resonate with those interested in a deeper learning of who you are and what your dreams are trying to tell you.

 “An immersion experience for seekers, healers and dreamers, this book is a journey into the dark feminine. This is a real, gut-wrenching and timeless story of woman’s search for the Divine Feminine. A surprising story of the desperation and final release from seemingly endless depression, this book is for those who have found no relief either in talk therapy, the medical establishment, pharmaceuticals, or conventional religious and cultural institutions.”

Recommend it to a friend if you have a moment.*

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LINEUP…

Oilers

Chiasson-McDavid-Draisaitl
Rieder-Nuge-Rattie
Lucic-Brodziak-Kassian
Caggiula-Khaira-Puljujarvi

Nurse-Larsson
Gravel-Jones
Garrison-Benning

Talbot

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Hitchcock juggled his second and fourth line, and he did so in hopes of them getting more icetime. “Right now we are relying on too few players, and at the end of the game, especially an intense playoff-style game like in Vancouver, we had some people who were worn down and had played too many minutes and it showed in their play. We got to get more guys helping us in a better way, and he (Khaira) is one of them,” explained Hitchcock on the reshuffling.

He also mentioned he feels Khaira and Puljujarvi have potential to give more. He didn’t say it in the way they were playing poorly, just that he feels that line along with Drake Caggiula should be able to play productive minutes.

Talbot gets the start. He defeated the Blues 3-2 in a SO on December 5th, but he is only 3-4-1 on home ice. Hitchcock wants to keep both his goalies involved, and even though Koskinen has assumed the starters role, with ten starts to Talbot’s five (including tonight), he doesn’t want Talbot sitting too long between starts. If Talbot didn’t play tonight he likely wouldn’t have played until after Christmas. Because the Oilers will play Koskinen v. the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

The Oilers PK had been trending in the right direction prior to Sunday’s loss in Vancouver. Two of Vancouver’s three goals came from losing faceoffs. Ironically, the same Oilers centres have been better on PK draws than they have on the PP or at EV.

Nugent-Hopkins is 45.6% on the PK (26-31) and 42.5% at EV (132-175).

Draisaitl is 48.7% on the PK (19-20), but only 45% on the PP (58-71). He is a solid 51.6% at EV (208-195).

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Kyle Brodziak is also 48.7% on the PK (19-20), and is their best EV faceoff guy at 51.9% at EV (160-148).

The PK needs a bounce-back effort tonight. The Blues have the fifth best road PP in the NHL at 24.3%. It is hard for any PK to have success without solid goaltending. Talbot needs to make a few more saves on the PK. He has allowed 15 goals on 61 shots (.754sv%), while Koskinen has allowed ten goals on 81 shots (.877sv%).

Blues

Steen-O’Reilly-Tarasenko
Schwartz-Schenn-Perron
Maroon-Bozak-Thomas
Nolan-Barbashev-Sundqvist

Edmundson-Parayko
Bouwmeester-Bortozzo
Dunn-Butler

Allen

The Blues forwards are healthy with Steen and Schwartz returning. When the Oilers faced them two weeks ago, Sanford and Thomas started the game on the top line with Ryan O’Reilly. The Blues have some skilled players in their top six, and the Oilers can’t play too loose, but right now the Blues biggest weakness is in their defensive zone.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oil have won six straight at home. They won their final eight home games in 2016/2017, and they inch closer to tying that with a 4-3 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up his 200th career assist. He finishes with two points and now has 11 points in 11 career games v. the Blues.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Tobias Rieder scores his first goal as a member of the Oilers exactly seven years and 156 days after they drafted him 114th overall.

MONTH OF GIVING

Thank you to Al Prokop and the groups at Blackhawk Golf Club and restaurant XIX for the great packages and to Ryan and Scott for their great bids.

DAY 12: Package #2 REALTOR FEES from Michelle Derk

  • Up for grabs is the seller’s commission for your house. (In a
    regular sale half the commission goes to the seller realtor and half to
    the buyer. So this is $3.5% on the first $100,000 and $1.5% on the
    balance).

On a $500,000 house that is a value of $9,500.00. On a $600,000 house that is a value of $11,000.00. and so on.

PACKAGE #2: Family and Rivalry games

  • Four seats at centre ice (section 120) row 22 for Oilers/Canucks on Thursday, December 27th. Unreal seats
  • Four Loge seats to the Edmonton Oil Kings v. Calgary Hitmen on Friday, December 28th.

You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today. Proceeds will help The Christmas Bureau and Gregor’s Grads.

GDB BROUGHT TO YOU BY COLLIN BRUCE MORTGAGE TEAM

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/18/2018 – 1:00 pm MT