Welcome, friends, to a matinee edition of the GDB as the Edmonton Oilers look to end their four-game losing streak against the San Jose Sharks.
Remember the first time the Oilers and Sharks met up this season? Of course you do. It was Ken Hitchcock’s first game behind the bench following what was a strange day that started with the firing of Todd McLellan. It’s not often that you see the head coach fired in the morning and then the new coach comes in to meet his team for the first time only hours before playing (and winning) a game later that night. Despite giving up three separate leads, the Oilers were able to find a way to claw back each time and eventually close things out in overtime, and they’ll likely need to rely on some of that resilience again today. Basically, I’m saying that the boys need to come up with every hockey cliche they possibly can in order to get these two points. Get pucks deep, chip and change, stay out of the box, get the cycle going… they need it all.
With the Wild Card race being as close as it is right now, the Oilers need to find a way to win this hockey game regardless of the injuries they’re going through on the back end or the lack of depth provided by their General Manager. They’re going to have to find a way to limit the Sharks’ offensive opportunities and they’re really going to have to make better choices with the puck. Over the last couple of weeks, the Oilers have given up far too many high-danger chances against without being able to manufacture all that many of their own, and that’s a tough combination when you’re trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Given the fact that the Sharks have eight players with more than 20 points, the Oilers have four in case you were wondering, it will be paramount that they get back to playing the tighter flavour of hockey that we saw during the hot run from earlier in the month.
From the crease on out, I think it’s fair to say that everyone needs to be better if the Oilers are going to get this thing back on the rails.
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-4-1||6-2-2|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||49.12||55.49|
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Draisaitl – McDavid – Rattie
Caggiula – Nuge – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Khaira – Spooner
Rieder – Brodziak – Kassian
Nurse – Larsson
Gravel – Benning
Jones – Wideman
Alex Chiasson got hurt in Thursday night’s game against Vancouver and will not play today against the Sharks. According to Coach Hitch, Chiasson had an MRI to check out what’s going on but it remains to be seen how long he’ll be out of the lineup. Considering he’s one of the few guys that is actually scoring right now, I think we all can hope that he’s back sooner than later.
On the bright side, Jujhar Khaira will make his return to the lineup after finishing up the two-game suspension he got for cross-checking Vince Dunn in the face a couple of weeks ago in Vancouver. Before the suspension, Khaira was on a nice roll and it will be good to have him back since he’s one of the few guys that’s been able to provide some secondary scoring with any level of consistency.
Kane – Pavelski – Donskoi
Hertl – Couture – Meier
Sorensen – Thornton – LaBanc
Radil – Goodrow – Karlsson
Simek – Burns
Dillon – Heed
Vlasic – Braun
As I mentioned above, the Sharks have eight players with 20 points or more so the Oilers are going to have their work cut out for them if they’re going to pull this thing off.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
McDavid’s wings have been a rotating cast since his draft day, but lately Draisaitl seems to have solidified his position on the young Canadian’s right. His left, however, is still a mystery. A who’s who of fringe relevant scoring wingers including Ty Rattie, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tobias Rieder, Ryan Spooner and, most recently, Alex Chiasson have skated alongside the captain, and that’s just this season. Chiasson had played well on the top line, and seemed to have crafted some chemistry there, until he absorbed an Adam Larsson slap shot with his right knee and left Thursday’s game in the first period. Chiasson has since been placed on injured reserve, leaving the sweet spot up for grabs. Will Hitch go back to one of McLellan’s experiments?
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers come out flying today and build themselves an early lead, but it’s not enough to end the losing streak. Sharks win 4-3.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: A 2 pm start means afternoon beers. Tis the season!
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: No better time for Milan Lucic to get his second goal of the year than in an afternoon affair against a divisional rival.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/29/2018 – 10:00 am MT