Welcome, citizens, to a Monday edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Vegas Golden Knights.
Can I be honest with you guys for a second? As the season winds down and the playoffs draw nearer, I’m having a really hard time getting excited for game days. It’s not that I don’t still love the Oilers, I do as much now as I ever have, it’s just that it’s been a very draining season given the expectations we all had for how things should go and the way everything actually played out. Emotionally, it’s been a rollercoaster that I don’t ever remember getting tickets to. To miss the playoffs is one thing, but to do it with your top players putting up career years adds a layer of bitterness to the onion that I’m not sure anyone could have expected. The thing I don’t understand yet is whether or not the general disappointment I feel at this stage of the season is based solely on the results, or if the strangeness of the managerial moves that got us to this point have compounded the issue. Either way, I’m trying to stay excited but it’s a tough sell right now, ya know?
Looking ahead at tonight’s game, the Oilers are only a single point lost (or gained by Colorado) away from being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and the Golden Knights are riding a five-game losing streak. Together, that’s a combination that seems to point to a loss night. It’s not that I enjoy saying things like that but I feel like it’s true. I don’t know why the Oilers can’t seem to keep other teams down on the mat when they’re struggling, but their reputation as slump busters can certainly be blamed as a partial reason for where they are in the standings right now. Maybe if they had been able to keep a couple of other teams’ losing streaks alive then we wouldn’t be teetering on the edge of lottery contention again. Obviously, there are more reasons than this to blame for the Oilers missing the playoffs again, but being unable to beat down on teams at their low points hasn’t helped at all. I hope that I’m wrong and that the Oilers will be able to steal two points from Vegas, but history hasn’t been overly kind in this regard so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things go.
In the three games played against Vegas so far, the Oilers have floundered to a 1-2-0 record and have been outscored by the Knights by a 13-8 margin over the season series.
|LAST 10 GAMES||4-4-2||4-4-2|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
Gambardella – Nuge – Chiasson
Lucic – Cave – Gagner
Rattie- Malone – Currie
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
Let’s get to 50 goals, Leon. Get out there and be selfish. Fire away. I get benching Rieder. He is at the opposite end of the German scoring spectrum.
Marchessault – Karlsson – Smith
Pacioretty – Eakin – Stone
Zykov – Nosek – Tuch
Carrier – Carpenter – Reaves
Schmidt – Engelland
Holden – Theodore
Merrill – Miller
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
So what does Gallant specifically do this week to get his team ready to perform at its optimum level for Game One of the playoffs?
For starters, he needs to get Marc-Andre Fleury back in the Vegas net. Malcolm Subban has run hot-and-cold of late, more cold, honestly. He has let in several soft goals and Fleury, who has been off for three weeks now, can use a little work before the playoffs.
Gallant also needs to figure out his bottom six forward lines. He has been mixing and matching Will Carrier, Ryan Carpenter, Zykov and Tomas Nosek. He also could use Pirri, if he’s healthy. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare should be back in the lineup this week (don’t ask me what’s wrong, I have no idea) so there will be stability up the middle as Cody Eakin anchors the third line with Alex Tuch as his right wing.
Of course, this is assuming that Stastny, who was a late scratch Saturday after participating in warmups, is going to be O.K. to play this week. If he’s held out, the juggling act will continue.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers put forth a solid effort tonight, but are unable to manage Vegas’ depth. Knights win this one 4-3.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl will find each other with passes that don’t seem to obey the laws of physics.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Confused by the commitment to in-game entertainment that the Golden Knights put forth every single night, Oilers brass decide to upgrade the experience in their own barn by putting little signs near the tills that thank fans for putting up with the yearly price increases.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 4/1/2019 – 12:00 pm MT