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GDB Game Notes Blackhawks @ Oilers

The race for the two wildcard spots in the Western Conference has eight teams within seven points, and seven teams within five points for the final spot. The Chicago Blackhawks have won four games in a row, and while they are at the back of the pack, only one team, St.Louis, has won more than five of their last ten games. If one team can get hot and win seven or eight games out of ten they’d be in the driver seat, but so far no one has stepped up.

The Edmonton Oilers picked up two points in consecutive matinee OT losses over the weekend, and after Vancouver lost last night the Oilers are three points behind the 8th place Canucks with a game in hand. Despite their five-game skid Edmonton is still in the mix, but as Captain Obvious points out at some point they need to win a few games if they want to stay in the hunt. The Hawks are one of the few teams below them in the standings. The Oilers must find a way to skate away with two points this evening.

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1. Edmonton is 2-9 in their previous eleven home games after starting the season 10-4. They’ve been outscored 48-33 and outshot nine times. They must rediscover their home Mojo, and Ken Hitchcock needs to try and get the best possible matchups he can tonight. I’d play Connor McDavid against Patrick Kane’s line, because Kane is their lone elite threat.

2. Kane continues to produce big numbers. He is tied with Connor McDavid for second in NHL scoring, but unlike most of the other top scorers, he doesn’t have a teammate close to him in points. He has 25 more points than Jonathon Toews, the biggest gap between the first and second scorer on any team. All the other top-ten scorers have a linemate or teammate in the top-25 except Kane.

3. The second biggest gap comes in St.Louis, with Ryan O’Reilly (52 points) 17 ahead of Vladimir Tarasenko. Connor McDavid is 13 points ahead of Leon Draisaitl, which is the fifth biggest cap from first to second scorer. Only seven teams have a gap of 10+ points between their first and second scorer, and that’s what makes Kane’s season so impressive. He produces a lot despite no teammates producing big numbers.

4. Since the Brandon Manning for Drake Caggiula trade here is how the players and their teams have performed. In the ten games Manning has played the Oilers are 3-7. He has produced 1-0-1, -1, seven shots and plays 13:35/game.

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In Caggiula’s ten games, the Hawks are 5-3-2 and he has scored 1-3-4, is even, has 14 shots and averages 14:33/game.

5. The Oilers need to shed over $1.2m off their roster to put Andrej Sekera on and be under the cap. Waiving Brandon Manning or Alex Petrovic would free up $1.025, but they’d still need to make another move. I wonder if they waive Petrovic first (let’s say Saturday for instance) to see if he gets claimed, because if he does it would free up his entire salary of $1.95 million. I doubt anyone claims Manning, because he has another year at $2.25m, but I could see Petrovic being claimed. If no one does claim him, then the Oilers would still have a day to decide who else to waive before activating Sekera.

6. Waiving Petrovic isn’t ideal, because it means they gave up a third round pick for six games of Petrovic. No different than if they waive Manning and he is in the minors after 12 or 13 games after trading Caggiula to do it. These deals are prime reasons why Peter Chiarelli was fired. The concerning thing, however, is I’m not sold Chiarelli made these trade all on his own. Others in the organization felt they were necessary deals.

7. I’m sure Keith Gretzky will try to facilitate a trade first, and a team who isn’t near the top of the waiver claims might give the Oilers a late round pick to secure Petrovic, but I’d be surprised it would be as high as third rounder. So even if they do find a trade it will be for less than what they gave up to get Petrovic. The opposite of good asset management.

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8. I noticed a small change on the OIlers bench this past weekend. Manny Viveiros was on the bench the entire game. In the previous 50 games he’d watch the first two periods from the press box and then be on the bench for the third period some games. The Oilers had yesterday off so I couldn’t ask Ken Hitchcock why the change was made, but I will today. Hitchcock gets on guys hard on the bench, and I wonder if Viveiros is there to be more a vocal upbeat guy. I’ve heard some rumblings some of the younger players were having a hard time dealing with Hitchcock’s intensity or “whining” as former Dallas Stars Captain Brendon Morrow described it in his retirement article. I wonder if Hitch broughtViveiross on the bench to be a positive voice to counter his aggressive style?

9. Zack Kassian and Milan Lucic each have 4-2-6 in their past ten games. Only McDavid (7) and Leon Draisaitl (6) have more goals. The Oilers have slowly started to get some depth scoring, but now the team is leaking goals defensively. Since Hitchcock’s arrival, Mikko Koskinen has a .905sv% and a 2.92 GAA, while Cam Talbot has a .898sv% and 3.38 GAA. They need better goaltending.

10. Darnell Nurse picked up two assists on Sunday and tied his career-high with 26 points. He is on pace for 41 points and is now 30th in scoring among defenders. Nurse has really picked up his play in the absence of Klefbom. The disappointing aspect of this season for Edmonton is that McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson are all having career-best seasons, yet the Oilers are still 24th overall in the NHL and they are 21st in goals for. They compile 27.7% of the 18 skaters every night, and unless the Oilers can find another gear over their final 30 games, they will have wasted some really productive offensive seasons from these five players. The entire team’s defensive play has to improve or they aren’t going anywhere.

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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/5/2019 – 8:00 am MT



  • Gary Chalmers

    Just win…beat a team they should, like they should have this past weekend, by staying out of the penalty box and being ready to play from puck drop.

  • Natejax97

    The way I look at is the Oilers need to win 2 out of 3 heading out of the all star break. That would get them over 90 points and should be enough. Along with this is of course is winning the games against the teams you are competing with. It is frustrating losing 2 games we had control over no doubt…but a win tonight accomplishes 2 things…4 out of 6 possible points and beating a team in the race. A loss tonight is a big deal. 2 out of 6 and a loss of ground. Tonight and Thursday are a big deal…real big. Goooooo Oilers!!! Give us a reason to go crazy as fans and we will!!! Good luck and please put 2 in the bank tonight!!

    • That's My Point

      They’ve won 44% of their games, and NOW you think they can win 66%???
      The TANK is ON, if you couldn’t tell from the 2 games they were winning and then BLEW!!!
      I hear Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach and Bowen Byram would be solid picks and should be available when the Oilers pick.

  • Alberta Ice

    This is actually a very big game tonight for both the Oilers and the Blackhawks. Edler’s injury may send Vancouver in a downward trend and the Ducks are gonzo. (Gibson is a disaster now.) A Blackhawk’s win puts them bigtime into the wildcard race again. I would predict the Blues to be the team that can get hot and the wildcard scene if the Oilers can’t get it going. Bottom line: A lot of teams have a chance to make the wild card in the low pointed Pacific Division and West Division run. Oilers need the winning streak to start tonight.

  • Chris_Cruise

    I hope Drake has a helluva game tonight! He was a good soldier for the Oil and his trade for Brandon D-bag is still baffling.

    Show ’em how big of a mistake they made Drake!!

  • rnj

    Fire Nicholson, Lowe, and MacTavish. Find a modern management group for a modern, young group of players.

    Caggiula and a 3rd gone, 3MM in cap acquired along with two guys who can clear waivers. Eberle gone for a guy who can clear waivers. A 1st and 2nd gone for nothing. A 2nd to hire Chiarelli, a 3rd for McLellan.

    That’s a 1st, two 2nds, two 3rds, Caggiula, Eberle, gone with nothing to show. Mind blowing.

    Nothing is going to change until the people who allowed this to happen are gone.

  • Redbird62

    I realize it was a different era, but in contrast to what Kane is doing, in Gretzky second NHL season, when he first broke the single season point record with 164 points, the second highest player on the team, Kurri as a rookie had 75 points, a difference of 89 points. The players, perhaps due to jealousy regarding a 19/20 year old doing this, chose Mike Liut for the Pearson (now Lindsay). Despite what many think, the players for a variety of reasons are just as likely to not vote objectively as the press. The next year, Gretzky was 107 points ahead of Anderson. For his first 2 seasons in the NHL and perhaps even a third, Gretzky carried that team completely until the rest finally blossomed. He did have the advantage over Connor that 16 of 21 teams made the playoffs, though that was not an issue in his 3rd season.

    • Redbird62

      I certainly can agree as an indictment of Chiarelli, Sather was starting from scratch with only Gretzky, where as Chiarelli inherited a team with a number of talented players already in addition to getting McDavid. Gretzky, Hunter and Semenko were the only 3 WHA Oilers to be on the team post the 81-82 season.

  • vetinari

    I want to see Oiler playoff hockey but this team has so many holes and is in cap hell, even if they did make it somehow, wouldn’t last a round of playoff hockey. Hell, we give seem to give up goals on within the first three shots of the game– what would happen in the playoffs? The opposing team scores during the anthems? I have made peace with this being another lost season and I guess either way the Oilers gain something: either we get a lottery pick or we get a round of playoff hockey. The big win this year was removing Chiarelli but not before he finished screwing the team by trading for deadweight and then handed out extensions to unproven players. I hope Katz gets bored of his toy soon and moves it on to a real owner.

    • Spydyr

      If that is true it just goes to show how truly dysfunctional the Oiler organization really is. An interim coach directing player accusations.

      As things sit today the Oilers have a interim coach an interim GM and the OBC including Burger Bob watching over things. The team is concerned that missing the playoffs would affect season ticket and skybox renewals What could possible go wrong?

    • The Whispererer

      Hitchcock was hired on November 20th and coached the Oilers in their 3 California games on the 20th, 33rd and 25th.
      The Wideman trade happened on November 22nd. Given that time frame I find it hard to believe that Hitchcock had any involvement in that decision.

  • KootenayDan

    I think trolls are pathetic and live sad little lives. If you are an Oiler fan refrain from going to other sites and being a troll yourself let’s just be good hockey fans. Despite our team being horrid for over a decade I still have hope and for those kicking us while we are down Karma finds a way. Enjoy the game tonight.

  • Since 72

    Hitchcock’s whining? Wtf, go out play hard, stay out of the box and win agame once in a while! That should make Hitch happy! O yah and the fans too!!

  • Hemmercules

    Nothing they do will matter until those save percentages go up. Thats on the defence too but seriously, they need a goalie to win a game once an a while. No team can consistently win with goaltending like that. Crossing my fingers and toes we don’t hear a Talbot contract extension announcement in the coming days.

  • BobbyCanuck

    I’ve heard some rumblings some of the younger players were having a hard time dealing with Hitchcock’s intensity or “whining”

    What? You mean our team is full of snowflakes, that cannot handle the heat? Well, that certainly explains a lot concerning the team’s woes

  • Redbird62

    Apparently, Klefbom was paired with Larsson for the morning skate. Probably a good chance he is in the line up tonight. Not sure when the Oilers have to notify the league office to activate him. Since the Oilers only have 22 on the active roster, no other player moves would be required. If he plays, I wonder if Hitch would play him against Kane’s line. Awfully tough assignment first game back. Still Nurse’s tendency to over commit is not a great matchup against Kane either.

    • Redbird62

      And in his post-practice interview, Klefbom stated he would be playing tonight! Even if he is not back to his pre-injury form, he is a big upgrade on either Manning or Petrovic and pushes Benning down the depth chart.

  • Spoils

    Shows you how much of a team game hockey is when our top players can have career years and our team can be in the toilet. Makes you think about the power of all the glory day era Lummers