After falling to the Flames 5-2 on Hockey Night in Canada, the Edmonton Oilers are back in action less than 24 hours later with a Sunday Funday adventure against the Carolina Hurricanes. Can our boys finish off the weekend on a high note? We’re only a few hours from finding out.
I know that it hasn’t been 2006 for 13 years now and that holding a grudge for this long could be unhealthy, but I still can’t help but harbour some deep seeded hatred for the Carolina Hurricanes. Losing in game seven of the Cup final was the start of a horrible summer to be an Oilers and I’ll never forgive them for it. Even seeing their logo on the schedule is enough to trigger the rage that was born inside me oh so many years ago. It’s a deep-rooted resentment that I’m not sure I’ll ever let go, but I know for a fact that a win tonight will go a long way to help dampen those painful, Marc-Andre Bergeron-induced memories. I still remember leaving my buddy’s place all those years ago as the Hurricane’s Cup celebration was kicking off and vowed that I would curse them until they relocate or I drop dead, whichever comes first.
After last night’s debacle against the Flames, the Oilers need to hit the reset button and fast because it was not a great look to have Calgary dummying them up and down the ice in front of a national audience. It was tough to sit and watch as the Flames, more or less, had their way in all three zones without so much as a whiff of pushback coming from our side. Even when Connor got cut above the eye, I was hoping that maybe, just maybe someone would take it upon themselves to respond in kind by taking shots at the Flames’ skilled guys, but it just never happened. Instead, they watched as the best player in the world got mugged without consequence, and I don’t understand how anyone in an orange jersey allows that to happen. Do these guys not like each other or something? How else could you explain the lack of an ‘all for one’ team dynamic? All I know for sure is that they had better figure it out and fast because time is running out.
With tonight’s game being the second half of a back-to-back weekend, it’ll be incredibly important for all four lines to find ways to contribute rather than simply being placeholders on the ice until the big boys are rested enough to get back out there. These are the games when you need your depth guys to help carry some weight and give the team effective minutes that can help them win. If not, we’re going to see the likes of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nuge being forced to carry the load again and that’s a quick recipe for burning those guys out and if that happens then we’re going to really be in trouble. Those guys desperately need help to get this train back on the rails, and there’s no better time to make that happen then tonight against the Hurricanes. The way I see it, Carolina is a beatable team but that won’t happen if the Oilers can only muster up enough urgency to compete for 20 or so minutes as they did against Calgary. They need to put together a full 60 minutes and they need to have everyone on board.
With 34 games left on the season and a wildcard spot only two points away, there is still enough track left to make up ground and get back into a playoff spot but they’ll never get there if they keep playing half games or single periods and relying on a handful of guys to drag them along.
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-5-0||7-3-0|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||46.2||56.06|
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Draisaitl – McDavid – Chiasson
Khaira – RNH – Yamamoto
Lucic – Cave – Kassian
Rieder – Brodziak – Puljujarvi
Nurse – Russell
Jones – Larsson
Manning – Benning
Outside of assuming that Talbot will get the start tonight, I’m really curious to see how/if Hitchcock changes his lines. Personally, I thought that last night was one of Jesse Puljujarvi’s best games of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get bumped up into Yamamoto’s spot. That said, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the blender out in full force to try and give the team a whole new look, though I’m not sure how much that would change anything. At this point, no lineup info has been released but I’ll be sure to jump back in and update things as news comes out.
Ferland – Aho – Teravainen
Svechnikov – McKegg – Williams
McGinn – Wallmark – Martinook
Foegele – Rask – Maenalanen
Slavin – Pesce
De Haan – Faulk
Van Riemsdyk – Hamilton
While the Hurricanes don’t score a heck of a lot, they spread the goals they do get around their lineup quite evenly. The Hurricanes have 14 players with 10 points or more whereas the Oilers only have nine, which is yet another spotlight on the offensive woes that are going down in Edmonton.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
A team that needed a hot run to finish the season needed a win at home against one of the league’s worst teams. It didn’t get it. The Canes’ blowout loss, coupled with the Penguins’ win, puts them nine points back of a wild card spot. There’s still over two months to play in the season, but the Canes would need some kind of finish, if not a miracle to keep the league’s longest-active playoff drought from hitting 10 years.
Game Day Prediction: Despite playing less than 24 hours ago, the Oilers hit the ground running with a solid Sunday effort that propels them to a 4-3 win. I’m thinking McDavid gets two goals but probably could have had four.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Unable to resist, Dougie Hamilton takes a quick hot lap around the Royal Alberta Museum for a little pre-game culture.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid blows my pre-game score prediction out of the water and pots five goals by himself. With 18,000 people chanting his name during his post-game interview, Connor McDavid flips his hair back, takes one quick look around the arena, and blows the roof off of the place when he offers to buy Arby’s Roast Beef n Cheddars for everybody. Once again, he is the hero we needed. Gord bless Connor McDavid.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/20/2019 – 10:00 am MT