122
Photo Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 10.0: Special Advantage (6pm MT, SNOil)

Life is all about taking advantage of opportunities. When a married man or woman gets a night out, they make the most of it. Round up your best group of friends, have a cheat meal, share a lot of laughs and chirps, stay off your phone, don’t do anything too stupid, stay out late and sleep in the day next. No guilt. Just a smile and a thank you to your spouse is sufficient.

What you don’t do is spend half the night on your phone at dinner, not talking or laughing with your company and then come home early. That makes you a fun sponge. You wasted a great opportunity, and tonight the Oilers can’t do that.

The Minnesota Wild can’t score. They are allowing more goals than any team in the NHL. Their special teams are bad.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

This is a game the Oilers can win. They should win it.

Their special teams are outstanding.

The Oilers PP is still first in the NHL, despite their most lacklustre effort of the season in Winnipeg. They had two powerplay opportunities, but only mustered two shots. The Jets entered that game with the league’s worst PK at 56.5%. And today they are still 31st on the PK at 61.1%. The Oilers struggled to enter the zone. And when they did set up they were too passive. For the first time all season the PP lacked urgency. They only had two PP shots.

Tonight they face another struggling PK. The Wild PK is 20th in the NHL at 75.9%, but they are dead last on home ice at 50%, allowing three goals on six chances. The Oilers shouldn’t need many opportunities tonight to score. But they need urgency they had in their first eight games. This could be a low-scoring, defensive-minded game, so the PP could be the difference maker.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Oilers PK continues to shine. The goalies have lived up to the adage, “Your goalie needs to be your best penalty killer.” They have stopped 54 of 57 PP shots. Mike Smith has been almost perfect, stopping 35 of 36. Let me save you making the Captain Obvious statement: “They can’t sustain that.” No shit Sherlock. We all know it, but that doesn’t change how good they have been and I don’t envision the Oilers goalies suddenly allowing a surge of PP goals.

The Wild PP is currently 21st in the NHL at 16.7%. They did score twice in their victory over Montreal, but again, this is an area the Oilers must take advantage of. The Wild aren’t blessed with the offensive skill of the Oilers powerplay, and tonight is not the night to let a below-average powerplay beat you.

WINS IN THE BANK…

A great start won’t guarantee you a playoff berth, but it sure makes the remainder of the season much easier. A victory tonight would improve the Oilers to 8-1-1. Nothing to sneeze at, and it would mean they could even play below .500 the rest of the way and make the playoffs. They could go 35-30-7 and still finish with 94 points.

Don’t underestimate the benefit of a good start. Here is how long it took the Oilers to register their eighth win in previous years.

2018: Game 13 (8-4-1). Finished with 79 points.
2017: Game 22 (8-12-2). Finished with 78 points.
2016: Game 12 (8-3-1). Made playoffs with 103 points.
2015: Game 24 (8-14-2). Finished with 70 points.
2014: Game 37 (8-22-7) Finished with 62 points. **Game 37 for eight wins. Good gawd.**
2013: Game 26 (8-16-2).
2012: Lockout shortened season.
2011: Game 12 (8-2-2). Finished with 72 points.
2010: Game 24 (8-12-4). Finished with 62 points.
2009: Game 17 (8-8-1). Finished with 62 points.
2008: Game 16 (8-7-1). Finished with 85 points.
2007: Game 22 (8-13-1). Finished with 88 points.
2006: Game 16 (8-7-1). Finished with 71 points.
2005: Game 15 (8-6-1). Made playoffs with 95 points.
2004: Lockout
2003: Game 17 (8-7-2-0). Finished with 89 points. *Missed playoff by two points behind Nashville and St.Louis.*
2002: Game 19 (8-8-3-1). Made playoffs with 92 points. *The era of four columns was the worst.**
2001: Game 13 (8-4-1-0). Finished with 92 points. *Missed playoffs by two points behind Vancouver.*
2000: Game 15 (8-5-2-0). Made playoffs with 93 points.
1999: Game 26 (8-8-6-4). Made playoffs with 88 points.
1998: Game 13 (8-5-0-). Made playoffs with 78 points.
1997: Game 28 (8-14-6). Rebounded and made playoffs with 80 points.
1996: Game 16 (8-8-0. Made playoffs with 81 points.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The Oilers have had eight wins in their first ten games twice previously. First in 1984 (8-0-2) and again in 1985 when they started 8-1, but lost their 10th game. A victory tonight would give the Oilers 17 points, the second most in franchise history through ten games.

This is a massive opportunity to grab two points and fly home feeling good.

Just like a great night out with the ladies or fellas, the Oilers should make the most of tonight.

LINEUP…

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
9G-RNH-Chiasson
Khaira-Sheahan-Archibald
Jurco-Granlund-P.Russell

Nurse-Bear
Klefbom-Russell
Manning-Benning

Smith

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I’m a bit surprised William Lagesson isn’t playing, but Tippett is playing to win and wants to go with a veteran and the Oilers have only allowed one goal in the past two games, so I can see why he sticks with the same defence.

I’d look at Sam Gagner coming in the lineup at some points as well, especially if the bottom six continues to shoot blanks. Tippett has a reputation of sticking with his players, and they love him for it. So we will see how they respond.

Wild

Zucker-Koivu-Parise
Greenway-Staal-Zuccarello
Donato-Kunin-Mayhew
Foligno-Dumont-Hartman

Suter-Spurgeon
Brodin-Dumba
Seeler-Hunt

Dubnyk

Mats Zuccarello draws in after missing four games with an injury. Joel Eriksson-Ek is now on IR, and while Kevin Fiala and Viktor Rask are out with lower body injuries.
Jared Spurgeon plays his 600th NHL game tonight.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I’ve never started a season 6-0 in GDB predictions, but I will tonight as the Oilers skate away with a 3-2 victory in a less-than-exciting hockey game.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Leon Draisaitl scores his eighth goal in 12 career games against the Wild. And the “Lock of Game” is McDavid will get a point. Only once before has he gone pointless in three consecutive games (December 29th, 31st, 2017 and January 2nd, 2018), and only 12 other times in his career has he gone pointless in two games, including the past two games. Bet big on McDavid getting at least one point tonight.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Bottom six scoring alert, bottom six scoring alert! Josh Archibald scores his first with the Oilers and continues to average one point per game in his career against the Wild.

Recently by Jason Gregor: