Good morning, Nation, welcome to a matinee edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for this today’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Over the years, we Oilers fans have become pretty used to these matinee games being complete and utter disasters, but that hasn’t really been the case this year. I mean, I’m not saying that they’ve been world beaters by any means, but the Oilers have done a much better job of competing during the daylight hours this year than they have in the past. In the seven matinees played so far this season, our boys have skated to a 2-2-3 record which is decent all things considering and probably enough to give me hope for a win. As I’ve said many times before, we’ve officially reached the silver lining stage of the season and all I can do is look for angles that can get me excited or give us hope. To counter that hope, the Blue Jackets went out and spent at the deadline in anticipation of a playoff run they have yet to lock in and that makes them an interesting opponent to face.
Over the last couple of weeks, the Blue Jackets are going through one of those up-and-down stretches where they’re winning a game and then losing a game and then winning two and then dropping another two, and that inconsistency could give the Oilers the window they need to sneak through and come out with a win. That said, the Jackets, a team that was already quite capable of producing offence in bunches, added another dose of firepower to their lineup in the days leading up to the deadline when they acquired both Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel which will make today’s task even harder for the Oilers to handle. If we’re being honest with ourselves, our boys haven’t exactly been what you’d call rock solid in the defensive zone over the past couple of months and the Blue Jackets will certainly provide a sizeable challenge in that department. If they plan on winning, they’re going to need all four lines to be playing rock solid defensively while also finding a way to contribute at the other end of the ice, something that has been nearly impossible to achieve with any consistency through the first 60+ games.
Tonight’s contest is the first meeting between the Oilers and Blue Jackets of the year after splitting the season series in 2017-18. The Oilers are 1-1-1 on their current five-game road trip, picking up three out of a possible six points against the Predators, Leafs, and Senators.
|LAST 10 GAMES||3-5-2||6-4-0|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
RNH – McDavid – Kassian
Lucic – Draisaitl – Chiasson
Rieder – Cave – Currie
Rattie – Malone – Gagner
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
After beating the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, I was a little bit surprised to see Hitchcock change up the lines again. It’s not that all four lines were rolling to the point of perfection, but I do find it interesting that the blender came out and spun things around again.
Panarin – Dubois – Atkinson
Dzingel – Duchene – Bjorkstrand
Foligno – Jenner – Anderson
Robinson – Nash – Dubinsky
Harrington – Jones
Werenski – Savard
Nutivaara – McQuaid
I always find it interesting to look at how the opponents get their offence and the Blue Jackets get a lot of it from throughout their lineup. After acquiring Duchene and Dzingel ahead of the trade deadline, Columbus now has 13 players with 20+ points on the roster while the Oilers only have five. Needless to say, keeping CBJ off the board will be a monumental challenge for the Oilers and one they’ll have to conquer if they plan on leaving Ohio with another two points in tow.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
I have to put Torts on blast for his lineup decisions with the new acquisitions. Alexander Wennberg has been a healthy scratch for four straight games since the Duchene trade. Wennberg has certainly had his struggles this season, but does he deserve such an extended break? Is he really a worse option than Riley Nash or Brandon Dubinsky? Adding Duchene gives this team great center depth, but removing Wennberg from the lineup removes a young center with skill. Wennberg would be overqualified for a third line role in this lineup. And yet, Torts and Jarmo both insist on leaving Boone Jenner at center, with Nick Foligno and Josh Anderson on the wings. That line has been productive, sure, but what if a better FOUR lines can be built by breaking that line up?
It’s a valid question to ask whether Torts is the right coach for a lineup with this talent. Of course this franchise is not going to change coaches this late in the season. And who knows, perhaps if all of the free agents leave Torts may end up being the right coach for next season’s underdog squad.
Game Day Prediction: Despite getting a great start and strong goaltending, the Oilers give up a late goal that costs them a point. Final score 4-3 Columbus.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: We’re having the ON Therapy Brunch Party this morning at the Brewhouse and that means I will have far too many daytime beers, setting myself up to repeat the same story to my Uber driver over and over again on the ride home.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Peter Chiarelli will actually be in attendance for this guy and tries to make a deal with the Blue Jackets that would see him trading his family home for their goal cannon. His wife vehemently opposes the deal, but he knows that the cannon will bring him the kind of firepower that is sure to land him another GM position.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 3/2/2019 – 9:00 am MT