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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 51.0: Back to Work (11am MT, SNW)

After 10 days away due to the All-Star Game and bye week, the Edmonton Oilers are back in action with a matinee affair against the Philadelphia Flyers.

What a weird start to 2019 it’s been for the Edmonton Oilers, right? After losing against the Detroit Red Wings in a miserable fashion in their last game before the break, the team rightfully punted Peter Chiarelli off his perch as the destroyer of hopes and dreams and then, thanks to the CBA mandated bye week, were able to disappear into the shadows for almost two weeks. Outside of Connor and Leon (mostly Connor) who were forced to talk about the state of the franchise at the All-Star game, the Oilers players were more or less able to hide away and let the heat die down before having to resurface and face the media in regards to Chiarelli’s dismissal.

Coming into today’s matinee, I really have no idea what to expect in terms of how this thing is going to shake out. The Oilers are playing their first game back after the bye week and the Flyers have already been on the ice since Monday, so the boys are going to have to find a way to shake off the rust without getting burned for it. Obviously, the Oilers will need to get their legs moving early to get themselves engaged but, more importantly, I think they’ll need to play a simple game rather than trying to get too cute and complicated. With the Flyers playing in their fourth game since their own bye week, the Oilers will have to play some catchup in terms of timing and execution and it’ll be imperative that they focus on the small details first before trying to do too much.

If the Oilers are going to win this hockey game, they’re going to have to get on their horse from the moment the puck drops, get strong goaltending, and shoot for the kind of execution that’s been missing in their game over the past month or so. Given everything that has gone on over the past few weeks, I hope that the players are coming back refreshed and motivated because it’s going to take every single one of them playing at their best if the Oilers are going to pull this playoffs thing off. While it’s been nice to have a break from the insanity of another trying season, I think that many of us are ready for the boys to get back to work and start chipping away at the monumental task of clawing their way back into playoff contention.

NUMBERS

OILERS FLYERS
RECORD 23-24-3 22-23-6
WIN/LOSS STREAK L3 W6
LAST 10 GAMES 4-6-0 7-3-0
GOALS FOR 144 146
GOALS AGAINST 163 172
POWER PLAY 21.1 14.1
PENALTY KILL 77.3 75.9
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 28.8 31.1
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.1 30.6
TEAM SAVE% .902 .895
CORSI FOR% 48.37 50.16
PDO 99.24 99.5
TEAM SHOOTING% 7.78 8.29
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 47.06 50.98

Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Lucic – McDavid – Rattie
Rieder – Draisaitl – Chiasson
Khaira – RNH – Kassian
Cave – Brodziak – Puljujarvi

Nurse – Russell
Gravel – Larsson
Manning – Benning

Talbot

Alright, so I don’t know what’s going on with these forward line combos but that’s what Hitchcock was running with at practice this week. I guess the break inspired him to fire up the blender and give it one of the longest spin cycles we’ve seen all year. The interesting part will be how long these trios last as Hitchock has been known to move guys around if he doesn’t have a good feel for how the game is going, and I suspect we’ll see some of that today.

Flyers

Van Riemsdyk – Giroux – Konecny
Lindblom – Couturier – Vorachek
Laughton – Patrick – Simmonds
Varone – Vorobyov – Raffl

Provorov – Sanheim
MacDonald – Gudas
Hagg – Folin

Hart

Coming into today’s game, the Flyers are absolutely rolling to the tune of a six-game winning streak, and that’ll be a mighty challenge for a rusty Oilers squad that is playing their first game back from the bye week. As I wrote above, the boys are going to need to hit the ground running if they’re going to pull this thing off.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From The Hockey Writers:

It’s hard to say the team has been significantly “better” under Gordon’s stewardship, although their record has improved. Hakstol was let go after a 12-15-4 record this season, while his replacement has so far posted a 9-8-2 record. Despite the slight tweaking in the forwards’ ice time, the team’s overall scoring has ticked down from a 3.00 goals-per-game average through the first 31 games to 2.63 in the 19 games following the coaching change.

The big difference that has brought the team over .500 has come from allowing fewer goals. The Flyers are averaging nearly one fewer goal against per game (3.75 average under Hakstol; 2.84 under Gordon). While it would be nice to attribute that to the shuffling on defense, the team’s shots against have actually risen and advanced possession metrics like Corsi and Fenwick have fallen.

The improved record is almost entirely due to the players who play all 60 minutes, though. The team-wide save percentage under Hakstol was .874, which has jumped to .912 under Gordon, thanks mostly to the stellar contributions of rookie netminder Carter Hart.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Oilers feel refreshed after the break and use the extra energy to power themselves to a 3-2 road win, snapping the Flyers winning streak in the process.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: After pulling out a big win in Philly, the boys head out on the town to grab themselves some celebratory Philly Cheese Steaks.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Before the game started, Brandon Manning offered to take his teammates on a tour of Philadelphia, showing them everything from the Rocky stairs to the Liberty Bell. Everyone had a great time.


Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/02/2019 – 9:00 am MT

  • grumpyKoala

    The 2nd line was crap all night,
    looking forward the game debrief where Drai will be on the bright side column.
    No accountability, German engineering was better in the early 1900.

  • burdamcdutchzky

    There is no safe lead when it comes to the Oilers. Time and again they let Philly back into this game. This was BEYOND frustrating to watch. They are getting more shots, so moral victories???

    • Kneedroptalbot

      Philly had better Goaltending, better defence, better power play tonight.
      2 missed calls on Edm in OT, High stick 30 seconds in and player tackled along boards 30 seconds before game winner.
      Edmonton put in a good effort. But too many defensive errors to win.

      • Beer_League_Ringer

        Well said. It seems like our D can be solid (by our standards) for a period of time, but almost never for a full game. Or perhaps more accurately, under sustained pressure they wilt. Next year, I think we need something like this to succeed:
        Klef, Larsson
        Nurse, Parayko
        New, New (or Russell – NMC…)

        Who knows what will happen with Sekera.
        Manning, Benning, Gravel, etc… Just not good enough.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      You could be right. It’s hard to list everything wrong with the last 10mins and OT of that game. Someone very popular (sarcasm) in Edmonton once said something about “death by 1000 cuts”. That is what I saw. A few dozen bad plays/reads, a general lack of skill, a lack of poise, crumbling confidence, and what can be considered a coaching mistake.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      That’s fair. A few positives: 1) Talbot played well and made some dandy saves with (likely) many playoff teams GMs watching. Dreger said things were starting to heat up on the Talbot trade front. Maybe we could get a 2nd round pick and/or decent young prospect with some NHL games. 2) The team is obviously not deep or talented enough, but played with effort. 3) McDavid looks like he did last year at this time – determined to win the Art Ross.

    • First period we actually passed the puck well. Break outs looked good. Then we started chipping the puck up the boards and losing possession. I know Talbot let the first shot in but that was one of the nicest pp goals I have seen this year. I thought he played solid.