Welcome, citizens, to a trade deadline edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators, while also wondering what pieces Keith Gretzky might ship out before the afternoon is over.
I always think it’s interesting when there’s a game on trade deadline day because, at any moment, a teammate can get shipped out and the whole dynamic of a line or defensive pairing can change. For the Edmonton Oilers, a team that’s just as close to lottery contention as they are to playoff contention, today’s deadline should be about collecting assets for the future rather than finding pieces that will help down the stretch. That is, of course, the polar opposite to where the Nashville Predators are at as a franchise. Instead of dumping contracts, they’ll be looking to add more sharks to water as they prepare for an extended playoff run, an opportunity that Oilers fans can only dream of at this point. One day, friends, one day.
Looking ahead at tonight’s game, it doesn’t take a whole lot of searching to figure out which team is favoured to win this thing. Nashville fans enjoy watching a perennial favourite while we struggle through six months of analyzing our crew of misfits and how they keep finding new and creative ways to reclaim their role as the sagging balls that drag behind the rest of the pack. If we are going to look for silver linings, the Predators haven’t been playing at the top of their game over the last couple of weeks and this could be as good of a chance for the McDavid-less Oilers to land a win as they’ll get. They’re in one of those cycles of games where you win a pair, then drop three, then win two, and lose two, and maybe just maybe that sliver of inconsistency is the opening the Oilers need to extend their winning streak to three. Then again, maybe that’s just my insistence on drinking the Kool-Aid coming through again.
In the two games against Nashville so far this season, the Oilers have a 1-1 record against the Predators with the road team winning both times.
|LAST 10 GAMES||3-5-2||5-4-1|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Rieder – Draisaitl – Chiasson
Gagner – RNH – Kassian
Lucic – Cave – Currie
Malone – Brodziak – Rattie
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
After grinding out a win against the Anaheim Ducks, I can’t see Ken Hitchcock making all that many changes to his line combination for tonight’s game. Obviously, we’d all love to have Connor McDavid back in the mix but that’s not possible right now so we’ll have to make do with what we have. Obviously, since we don’t know what is going to happen with the Oilers today it’ll be tough to put together the line combinations together, but we’ll run with our best guess. As always, I’ll jump in and update things as/if news comes out.
Forsberg – Johansen – Fiala
Jarnkrok – Turris – Arvidsson
Boyle – Bonino – Hartman
McLeod – Sissons – Grimaldi
Josi – Ellis
Ekholm – Subban
Hamhuis – Irwin
It’s funny how we look at production from the forwards on our NHL teams. Right now, the Oilers have three players on their roster with 55+ points and the Predators have none. The difference everywhere is, though, is pretty shocking. Nashville has 14 players with 20 points or more on their roster while Edmonton has only five.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The elephant in the room is the power play. The dead last power play in the NHL at just over 12 percent. Other than Montreal, that percentage is nearly three percentage points behind the next team. In other words, this power play probably can’t fully be repaired in just 21 games. We have to hope that it shows mild improvement in time for the playoffs and understand that it’s not going to be something we can rely on to win games. Tough pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.
Newly-acquired Brian Boyle will continue to make the power play a little more robust as he gets more comfortable with his new team. He’s not the only answer, but I do think his presence frees up more space for other players to turn their power play luck around.
Another glaring concern is for a while now the Predators have morphed into a one-line team. Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, and Ryan Johansen continue to do brilliant work and carry this team. There are nights when the Predators have no business being alive in the third period, but the top line carries them to two points. It’s a major factor as to why the Predators sit just three points back of first place in the division despite not playing very well as a team. That won’t work in the playoffs.
Game Day Prediction: Despite a strong effort worthy of the finest participation ribbon, the Oilers fall short on this day, losing 4-2 in the process.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid’s suspension will be mentioned at least five times.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Wanting to feel a part of the playoff push, one of the Oilers’ assistant coaches chucks a steak on the floor in their dressing room, cheers loudly, and gets escorted out by security.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 2/25/2019 – 12:00 pm MT