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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.

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.*

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).

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

Find out why so many people are using Dominion Lending Centres #1 broker in Canada.
We are paid by the banks on the size of the mortgage, not the interest rate, so we try to get you as low as rate as we can. Whether it is a purchase, renewal or refinance, contact us to see what we can do to help!

Recently by Jason Gregor:


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


  • CRONENBERG

    I love Oilersnation. Love the writers, love the content, but the spam is becoming unbearable. I can’t read for more than a couple minutes before I get redirected.

    • Super annoying in every way. It’s a dev issue within our ad networks and we’re working with Google to fix. Long story short, there are people buying fake ad units that look legitimate but then trigger a redirect. We hate it as much as you do.

    • ON1990

      i use the extensions ublock origin and adguard adblocker in google chrome, seems to block most redirects..you can use the same extensions in firefox as well.

        • OilersGM

          “The way you speak to other people in the comments section”
          I have not said anything negative towards anyone, but made a comment regaridng a former player.
          Was it outta line maybe but certainly don’t deserve to be kicked out of comment section. But at no time have I made a foul comment towards a fan on this sight.

        • hagar

          It get the vibe with the lack of edit button and such that you guys are just letting it ride like you are close to selling or something that keeps oilersnation from caring.
          There are plenty of examples in everything business when the supplier seems to stop caring towards the end of whatever.
          I still run a blackberry so i dont need to load blockers, but i have a top bar that pops up with blackberries security that shows non stop, over and over security attack attempts on my phone while browsing.
          I get you sound frustrated, but it is comming off kinda fake when it can be controlled on other sites.
          Cant you just wash your hands of the problem supplier after such crap, and get on board with someone that can supply a product you want?

          Not trying to tell you how to run the business, but these issues you see as minor problems will eat away until all you have left is Mr. Bung and spyder posting back and forth every couple of minutes.

  • Real Oiler Fan since 83

    The Oilers are 18-13-3. How seeet is that. Keep it going boys! I am super excited to see the Nuge, Rieder, Rattie line. Lots of hockey IQ on that line. I predict my man Big Looch scores tonight. Book it.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    You know? I get it. I totally get it. This is the internet. You can say what you want, do what you want, and nobody can really do anything to you because there isn’t a face to attach to the account! I see all of these comments dumping on Cam, saying he’s trash and that he should be traded. But that’s not true at all. Deep down, all of you want him to bounce back. All of you want 16-17 Cam back, like I do. Because I’ve talked to both Non-Oilers and Oilers fans alike. And all of them know Cam is a good goalie, is going through a rough patch. So say you want to trade him all you want. It only clarifies that you want him to stay and succeed

    😉

    Oh and I hope Lucic puts one in tonight. Rogers would explode if he did

    • Peter Chairelli

      Keith is a 35 year old defenceman who just played his 1000th NHL game, he has a bum shoulder and knee, his Cap hit is $5.5 Mil until 2022-23. As GM I can assure you, WE ARE NOT INTERESTED.

      • Hemmercules

        Keith would instantly be our best defensemen.

        Not sure his his shoulder and knee are as bad as you suggest either. He actually played the entire season last year and the year before. I don’t think he has missed any time this year as well.

        Too bad that contract is so grossly long and expensive……….

      • Real Oiler Fan since 83

        Peter I must say there is something different about you lately. I agree 100% about not trading for Keith. You smart. By the way good job on the Koskinen, Chiasson, and Hitch deals. They have turned out great. Larsson is one of the toughest men in the league to try and beat 1 on 1. For this I am ok with you trading Hall for him. Maybe a little more offensive upside would have been nice but Larsson is all about defence and we needed that. Besides we were in last place for how many years and we were trading pennies on the dollar. No teams were willing to over pay for any of our players. Eberle was a salary dump, pure business move so I get it.
        I like Lucic for what he is. (and I’m sure so does 97) I know some fans heavily disagree with his contract but he is the toughest guy On the ice every night, great teammate, meanest hardest hitter in the league and I have to stay he looks a heck of a lot faster this year and/or his effort is top notch. Keep it up Pete. Go oilers go!!

      • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        Keith’s contract was structured much like Hossa’s, where he was drawing a high salary on the front end ($7.6M in 2015) and drops to nothing ($2.1M) in two years. If the Oilers can swap Keith for Sekera (who’s a year older than Keith), the Hawks get a D man whose 5.5M cap hit goes away in 24 months and the Oilers get a D man who doesn’t hit shin pads when he shoots on net (.46 ppg), can play heavy minutes (currently over 22 min/gm) and who knows how to win (how many Oiler D men have won a Stanley Cup?). Moreover, his first-pass abilities and skating is still world class. Finally, I’d wager that in 3 years Keith will likely retire, as his salary drops to $2M, just like Hossa–unless the numbers say he should look for a new deal.
        Keith would make the backend much better now and for the next 36 month, a time when the Oilers should be competing for McDavid’s first Cup.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Chia, for better or worse, might have just saved his job with Koskinen and Hitch. I don’t think he wants to commit career suicide just yet.

    • Jason Gregor

      Duncan Keith now is not the Duncan Keith when Hawks were dominant. I don’t see it as a fit for what Oilers are doing. He has a $5.5 cap hit for another five years until he is 40 years old. No thanks.

  • Redbird62

    Interesting that Spooner drew the short straw. Assuming he is not banged up, it may be refreshing that Hitch is sitting a guy making $4 million (only $3.1 million paid by the Oilers). Certainly based on the last few games, hard to argue Spooner shouldn’t be the one to sit so that a press box player gets some ice time. Hopefully the Oilers shelter Benning/Garrison from the Blues top 6 during 5 on 5.

  • TKB2677

    With how crazy good Koskinen has been at home, I personally would lean to him to play tonight but at the end of the day, I don’t care who’s in goal. I don’t care about a guys feelings or being fair, etc, etc. Stop the puck, win the game. That’s it.

  • Natejax97

    Gooooooooo oilers!! Will be at the game tonight. Oilers have not lost a game I have attended since 2006. Gonna try my best to keep my 21 game win streak going tonight!!!! Get a win boys…then we ruin the Stamkos on Saturday and merry Xmas to us!!!!

  • Ron Burgundyz

    Joe Juneau – there’s a name I haven’t heard for a while. Put up 102 points for the Bruins as a 24-year old in his first full season, then 85 the next year (72 with Boston), then got traded to the Capitals and was never the same again. He was a late starter because he finished his degree as an actual rocket scientist. One of the strangest career arcs in league history perhaps. Anyway, the more you know…

    • BobbyCanuck

      ha ha reminds of how the Olympics used to be announced back in the day
      ‘in Lane 1 is Werthudy Hurgonlohg when she is not training for the race, she works on her post grad degree in Astro-Physics, and spends her weekends helping out at the local orphanage

      Bloody over-achievers, the whole lot of them!

  • theJason

    GDP: Talbot stops the first shot (please!!!!!)
    OGDP: Talbot lets a weak goal in from a point shot on a Blues power play
    NSOGDP: Talbot gets the win with a SV% of .888

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    “the Oilers can’t play too lose . . . ”

    That’s either a) The Oilers can’t play too loose or b) the Oilers can’t play to lose. I’ve never seen a Hitch Hockey Oilers team play too loose or seen them play to lose, but I’ll go with a) and bet they won’t play too loose.
    I’d also love to see McDavid double shift on the “4th” line by the 2nd half of the 2nd period with Khaira and Puljujarvi if they’re not up by three goals. Pully’s due for a few goals.

  • Total Points

    Oilers should plat Kos tonight and Talbot on Saturday against Lightning. You always play your best goalie against the weaker teams except in the stretch and in the playoffs.

    Oilers need to win 1 or the next 2 games and the easier team is the Blues

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers get scoring from all four lines.

    OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Allen gets pulled again.

    NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: 3 of the Oilers goals come after playing songs by The Rolling Stones during the break, in honour of Keith Richards’ 75 birthday. Happy (Happy) birthday Keith.

  • Randomfan

    Sharks and ducks are both poised to gain atleast a point as of right now. Its going to be very hard to gain any ground on the teams ahead if we keep losing to teams below us in the standings.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    The whole line was terrible on that goal , that is one Talbot should have stopped IMHO.. but the team does not seem ready to play, was Tm with the team or something, Hitch better give them a kick in the pants in the intermission

  • Dark Knight Returns

    When’s the last time Talbot stopped a shot going high?
    Talbot to Jersey for their 3rd round pick. He is singlehandedly lost us games and if we don’t make playoffs he will be the one to blame.

    Koss time

  • Odanada

    Just caught the last couple of minutes of the first and missed the goal. The comments here tell me Talbot let in his 4th shot and it was weak. Would Koskinen have stopped it?