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Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 23.0: Avoid Another Shark Attack (8:30pm MT, SNW)

The San Jose Sharks are riding a six-game winning streak and they are 8-0-1 in their last nine head-to-head matchups against the Edmonton Oilers. San Jose outscored Edmonton 46-26 overall in those nine meetings and the Sharks really controlled those games at even strength, outscoring Edmonton 43-24.

The Oilers need to be better at EV, and they have to find ways to draw some more penalties.

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Edmonton averaged fewer than two powerplays/game over these nine games with only 17 powerplays, while the Sharks had 27. Edmonton has struggled to get powerplay chances for years.

In 2017 they were 15th with 245 powerplays, then 31st in 2018 with 210 and last season they were 25th with 222. This year they are 16th with 66, but they have played more games than most teams, and only Dallas, Anaheim, Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders average fewer PP chances per game. The Islanders have only had 34 powerplay chances all season (18 games), which is incredible considering they have the second best winning percentage in the NHL.

If the Oilers could muster a few more powerplays, they could be deadly. Their powerplay has 21 goals on 66 chances this season and they lead the league at 31.8%. Their powerplay has been great, and so too has their penalty kill. Their special teams have, without question, won them games.

But against the Sharks, with so few powerplays, the Oilers five-on-five play needs to improve. The Sharks spanked them 6-3 last Tuesday and the game was over after the Sharks led 4-0 only 21 minutes into the game. Edmonton needs to do a much better job managing the game at five-on-five tonight. The Sharks love to shoot pucks from the blueline and have their forward crash the slot looking for deflections. San Jose had five deflections last Tuesday. They are borderline set plays. Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns are great at shooting for sticks and the Sharks forwards cut across the slot with their stick down, and often will do a slight twist of the stick to open up the blade for a better deflection. It works very well and is difficult to defend.

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LINEUP…

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
Khaira-RNH-Neal
Nygard-Sheahan-Archibald
Granlund-Haas-Chiasson

Nurse-Bear
Klefbom-Jones
Russell-Benning

Koskinen

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Khaira gets a bump into the top-six after scoring twice on Saturday. It makes sense. Tippett desperately needs someone to chip in some offence when playing with James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Josh Archibald made hardly any plays with the puck. He skated well, and was good on the forecheck, but when you play in the top-six you need to create some offence. Khaira will get his opportunity tonight and Tippett is hoping the two goals have given #16 some confidence.

Maybe it is because Granlund shoots left, but I’d play Sam Gagner or Patrick Russell ahead of Granlund. Russell had a solid game against Dallas — he hit a post for the second consecutive game and was on the ice for Khaira’s first goal. He isn’t much of a threat to score, however, so maybe that’s why he is out, but Granlund hasn’t moved the needle much for me this season.

Sharks

Kane-Couture-Labanc
Meier-Hertl-Goodrow
Sorensen-Thornton-Marleau
Radil-Gambrell-M. Karlsson

Simek-Burns
Vlasic-Karlsson
Dillon-Ferraro

Jones

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San Jose’s top-three lines have remained consistent throughout their winning streak. Logan Couture (2-9-11) and Tomas Hertl (6-3-9) and Timo Meier (3-6-9) have led the way offensively after slower starts to the season. The Hertl line has been much better since Barclay Goodrow got bumped up to play with them early in November. Goodrow’s energetic style has complemented his linemates quite well.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the second consecutive Tuesday the Oilers lose in San Jose. This time 4-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl extends his point-streak to 13 games, which ties him with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Nathan Mackinnon for longest point-streak of the season. Draisaitl has 27 points in 12 games. Pastrnak had 30 points in his 13-game streak, while Marchand had 28 and MacKinnon had 18. Pastrnak has two points in his other seven games, Marchand has four, while MacKinnon has eleven. Draisaitl had 16 points in his first ten games. In fact he had 16 in his first eight, went goalless in Winnipeg and Minnesota when the Oilers were shutout, and now has 27 points since. There hasn’t been a game this season where the Oilers have scored at least one goal and Draisaitl didn’t get a point.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Granlund makes me eat my words and scores his first goal of the season.

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