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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



  • Rufio Barcoli

    I really hope Chiarelli doesn’t come out flat tonight.
    He can’t afford to let a goal in on the first few shot.
    Chiarelli really needs to stop playing with the intensity of a wet fart, and make sure his shots his the net-the wristers from the blueline on the PP have to stop.

        • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

          Don’t care. I’m sick and tired of people ****ting on goalies because they allow a goal they have 0 chance of stopping (whether it be a screen or tip-in). Play the damn position yourself (like I have) and then open your mouth. And no, I don’t just praise Talbot. When he does something stupid (like mishandle the puck, go for a bad play), then I’ll call him out on it

      • rnj

        No ones saying anything about a tip. It’s the fact that Talbot is the worst goalie in the league as far as first shot save percentage goes. Last season it was something ridiculous like .840, this season is likely similar

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I think the plan is for all lines to trap and grind. I mentioned it in another thread. It’s not about spreading scoring around it’s about spreading the weakness around. 2-1 Oilers in OT or SO.

  • Odanada

    I don’t think the “blender” helps the team very much. I understand that Hitch is trying to find some magic, but all I see is lines that never develop much in the way of rhythm or chemistry.
    I am also disheartened by how little response there is when opponents take liberties with McDavid. Did you see what happened when Orpik ran Johnny Hockey? That’s what “teams” do. Maybe the Looch doesn’t want to fight anymore, but he’s not earning his salary scoring, is he?
    Step up.
    I am also getting angrier about Bob Nicholson by the second. He was the guy who was in charge of hiring and overseeing Chia. Peter’s slide into total failure as GM was no secret, yet BN did nothing. Nothing
    This team can play better than it has, but the blender is not yielding results, Connor is being harassed and Nicholson shouldn’t be hiring the new GM because BN has already demonstrated he has poor judgement and doesn’t know what he is doing.
    Players that don’t want to be there should leave, but who would want them? I don’t know who the players are that Connor was referring to, but I’m betting you couldn’t give Lucic, Spooner and Manning away for free.
    I will cheer for them as always, but I don’t see a way out of this mess that doesn’t involve a miracle on the ice and in the room and the turfing of Nicholson and the hiring a guy who either shuts or shows the door to the OBC.
    Play hard out of the gate today and stand up for one another and win or lose, we can at least be proud of the effort.

    • Heschultzhescores

      Great points. The waiver wire is showing us just what the rest of the league think of our supporting cast. Its gonna take some time and a lot of clever moves with no cap space to bring this team back into contention. They can start by winning a game today that has all the ingredients for a loss.