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Photo Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 50.0: Finish Off Strong (7:00pm MT, SN1)

For the last time before heading off into their bye week and All-Star Break, the Edmonton Oilers will look to get themselves back on track with a win against the Detroit Red Wings. Can they pull it off? The first step will be showing up.

After stumbling through what can only be described as a disastrous weekend and following it up with a day that was ripe with suspect roster decision, the Oilers need to find a way to head into their break on a high note. They need something that helps them feel good about themselves before heading off to Gord knows where for the next ten days. Something to help fans remember why they spend so much of their money and lives invested in them. Needless to say, the vibe around here has been toxic for a while and it doesn’t seem like this management group cares much, so all we’ve got left is to hope for wins and to keep sending out prayers that things will magically change. Would a win against the league-worst Detroit Red Wings help?

At this point, the Oilers are basically stuck in quicksand and we’re all on the sidelines helplessly waiting to see if they’re going to keep struggling and drown or if they’ll find the lifeline that saves their season/respectability. The trades they’ve made have been weird, the games are getting more painful to watch, and I’m really unsure about how much I’m able to trust in the process anymore given the people that are steering the ship. I’m not going to pretend to know what the answer is for fixing everything, there are plenty of problems that need to be addressed and some of them are deep-rooted issues, but I do know that the people that put the Oilers in this spot shouldn’t be given any more chances to turn things around. But as we saw with yesterday’s roster moves, the organization doesn’t see things the same way and Peter Chiarelli will be given every chance to crawl out of the grave he’s dug for himself.

Given the fact that we’re now four years into Connor McDavid’s career, being this far away from being competitive is completely unforgivable and it’s getting to the point where I actually feel sorry for him for being forced to answer why things are the way they are. Yeah, you can tell me that there is still plenty of time left in this season, and you’d be right too to a certain extent, but there’s no way in hell you will ever convince me that this team shouldn’t be further ahead of where they are based on the players they started the McTenure with. When they drafted him back in June of 2015, the Oilers needed improvements on the back end but here we are almost four years later and they’ve depleted the skill on the wings and still haven’t solved the defensive issues. I don’t even know how that’s possible. Yet, here we are, hoping and wishing for better days while being stuck in this Groundhog’s Day world that the Oilers have created for us.

Oh, and I almost forgot, there’s a game tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, I believe. Need a quick start, get pucks deep, stay out of the box, and blah blah blah. Just win, alright? 

NUMBERS

OILERS RED WINGS
RECORD 23-23-3 18-25-7
WIN/LOSS STREAK L2 L2
LAST 10 GAMES 5-5-0 3-6-1
GOALS FOR 144 142
GOALS AGAINST 160 170
POWER PLAY 21.5 16.5
PENALTY KILL 76.8 77.2
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 28.7 29.3
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.2 33.2
TEAM SAVE% .902 .906
CORSI FOR% 45.83 48.32
PDO 99.43 100.38
TEAM SHOOTING% 7.89 8.38
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 46.61 46.55

Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Khaira – Draisaitl – Chiasson
Spooner – Cave – Yamamoto
Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian

Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Larsson
Manning – Benning

Koskinen

After the mayhem that went down yesterday with the Rattie and Spooner hitting the waiver wire, Caleb Jones being reassigned to Bakersfield, and Mikko Koskinen signing a three-year contract extension, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Hitchcock’s line combinations. Now that we know that neither Spooner nor Rattie was claimed, the Oilers chose to retain Spooner on the roster instead of assigning him to the Condors. Patrick Olsen on Twitter had the breakdown on why this is possible. According to Jack Michaels, it looks like Rieder will draw the short straw tonight. Frankly, with this team, I feel like anything is on the table at this point and all we can really do is strap in and hope for Jesus to take the wheel.

Red Wings

Bertuzzi – Larkin – Nyquist
Vanek – Nielsen – Mantha
Helm – Glendening – Athanasiou
Abdelkader – Ehn – Frk

Kronwall – Green
Dekeyser – Jensen
Ericsson – Cholowski

Howard

Over their last 10 games, the Red Wings have been giving up an average of 3.4 goals per game and a whole lot of shots against, which might be exactly what the doctor ordered for our boys. On the flip side, Detroit has also been firing a lot of shots towards their opponents’ nets and that could be a problem as our goaltending hasn’t exactly been hot fire over the past month or so.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

From Wingsnation:

The Red Wings road trip through Western Canada so far as been a disaster. In both games, they had a lead going into the third period and in both games they lost it. Their losing efforts as of late have plummeted them to the bottom of the standings where, after the Los Angeles Kings won their matinee game yesterday, they sit in last place.

The good news is they roll into Edmonton tonight where they won’t be the biggest disaster. The Oilers are currently out of playoff contention, though by a mere three points, and Peter Chiarelli seems determined to sink them even further. Yesterday, he waived Ryan Spooner, effectively turning Jordan Eberle into nothing. Then, it was announced that Mikko Koskinen, the goalie whose played a mere 31 NHL games, has been extended for three years at a $4.5-million AAV. He’ll apparently be their starting goalie of the future.

But enough about their head office moves. What about their play on the ice as of late? The Oilers are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and 12-12-1 at home. Funnily, they are 11-11-2 on the road, making them a perfectly even and balanced team. Thanos would like them. In their only other game against the Red Wings this year, the Oilers won by a score of 4-3.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk


Game Day Prediction: After dropping two horrible games against the Flames and Hurricanes, the Oilers bounce back with a strong effort and a 3-2 win.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Regardless of what happens in tonight’s game, Oilers fans will be thankful for a 10 break from the emotional rollercoaster that is Oilers fandom.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Before the game starts, Peter Chiarelli will walk into his favourite local coffee shop and trade $200 for a small Vanilla Latte. He will then trade the cup holding the latte back to the coffee shop in exchange for them pouring the coffee in his hands.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 1/22/2019 – 10:00 am MT