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Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 25.0: Looking to Rebound (8pm MT, CBC)

Happy game day, Nation! Here we are with a Saturday edition of the GDB to get ourselves ready for tonight’s Hockey Night in Canada matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Vegas Golden Knights.

Normally, when you think of heading to Vegas it’s because you’re taking a trip to get away from your worries, live like Diddy for a day or two, and probably make a few poor life choices along the way. But for the Edmonton Oilers, they’re rolling into Las Vegas with the sole intent of bouncing back from that tough loss against Los Angeles and leaving T-Mobile Arena with two crucial points. Full stop. They don’t have time to see Boyz II Men or Carrot Top, they won’t be stopping at Shake Shack for any deliciousness, and they won’t be seeing Tiesto — the Oilers need only focus on getting the job done. In a week with four divisional games, the boys have a massive opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the herd, and while the trip started off well in San Jose, they soiled themselves against the Kings two nights ago and now we’ll be looking for them to rebound.

Despite the Golden Knights having a somewhat slower start to their season than we’re used to, they’ve started to turn things around over the past month or so by getting back to their aggressive style that can give you fits if you’re not ready to play. Vegas is relentless on the forecheck, they support each other well with the puck, their goaltending can be elite, and they have an array of goal scorers that will punish you if given the chance. Needless to say, if the boys aren’t prepared to put in a full 60 minutes from the moment the puck drops then they’re going to have issues, and I think that’s something we’d like like to see them avoid. I don’t care how much a team was/is spinning their wheels or struggling, as we learned on Thursday night against Los Angeles, nobody makes the NHL by winning at McDonald’s Monopoly and it’s going to take a strong performance on all fronts to close this thing out, ideally in regulation if I’m being greedy.

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Tonight’s game marks the first of three meetings between these two clubs with the second not coming until the end of February, which could make things interesting in terms of a playoff push towards the end of the season. But before we can even start thinking about what happens the next time these clubs meet, the Oilers need to worry about getting themselves back in the win column.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
RECORD 14-7-3 11-9-4
WIN/LOSS STREAK L1 L1
LAST 10 GAMES 5-3-2 3-4-3
GOALS FOR 77 73
GOALS AGAINST 68 69
POWER PLAY% 31.4 22.8
PENALTY KILL% 87.6 86.6
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 28.8 34.1
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 30.9 31.7
TEAM SAVE% .910 .909
CORSI FOR% 48.11 52.31
PDO 1.008 0.982
TEAM SHOOTING% 9.21 6.86
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 49.99 53.29

Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
Nygard – RNH – Neal
P. Russell – Sheahan – Archibald
Granlund – Haas – Chiasson

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Nurse – Bear
Klefbom – Jones
Russell – Larsson

Smith

After getting pumped by the Kings, I wasn’t sure what to expect for the Oilers in terms of line combinations or maybe even who would be starting in net. I know Jack Michaels tweeted out some practice lines yesterday which are listed above (Khaira was taking a maintenance day), but I was curious to know whether or not there’d be any further changes before puck drop. I’m also betting on Tippett going back to Smith after a tough first period against the Kings, but we’ll have to wait and see. Since I’m posting the GDB early, the lineups haven’t been released yet but I’ll jump back in and update when news comes out.

Golden Knights

Pacioretty – Karlsson – Smith
Marchessault – Eakin – Stone
Tuch – Statsny – Glass
Carrier – Nosek – Reaves

McNabb – Schmidt
Hague – Theodore
Merrill – Engelland

Fleury

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Looking at Vegas’ stats page, the first thing I noticed was how they don’t have anywhere near the same top-end production as the Oilers do, but they do have a nice run of depth scoring throughout their lineup. We know that our top line will be able to run and gun with just about anybody Vegas throws out there, so it’ll be up to the other three groups to find ways to duplicate those results.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Knights on Ice:

Who’s gonna stop the McDraisaitl duo?

The best offensive duo in the NHL will be facing the Golden Knights in this game, and that puts a lot of pressure on the defense to shut them down. But who’s been best at stopping Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl? Especially when the two both have 16 goals and 44 points so far this season in just 24 games, how do you bring them back down to earth?

Well, the Golden Knights have a number of players adept at shutting them down. It’s a shame the traditional first line has been separated, because William Karlsson, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault were the three best forwards at denying chances to McDavid and Draisaitl. With the old first line on ice, those two both had sub-40 percent Corsis, expected goal shares and high-danger shares. They improved dramatically while facing other lines. Expect to see Smith, Karlsson and their new linemate Max Pacioretty on ice.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Oilers get two goals from the bottom-six and it’s exactly what they needed to squeak out a 5-4 victory.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: A lifelong Vegas resident will complain that an Oilers fan is too drunk in Las Vegas on a Saturday night. The Oilers fan will respond by buying them a beer and apologizing like a good Canadian boy/girl.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Before heading into T-Mobile Arena, Leon Draisaitl pops a few dollars in a Goonies machine at New York, New York and wins $629.

THE 2019 BLACKOUT COLLECTION

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We’ve upgraded every aspect of this year’s gear and we cannot wait for you guys to check it out! The 2019 Blackout collection is coming soon and available only at NationGear.ca.