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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 36.0: Big D Has Great Defence (6:30pm MT, SNW)

The Dallas Stars lost eight of their first nine games this season. There was lots of concern on October 18th about what was wrong with the Stars, but a victory the next night against the Pittsburgh Penguins started them down a much more enjoyable path. They are 18-4-3 in their last 25 games and they’ve only allowed a league-low 49 goals in that span. Their 1.96 GAA is the best by a large margin with the New York Islanders sitting second at 2.25 since October 19th.

Many of us expected the Stars to be good defensively. They had the best GAA in the west last year at 2.44, and only the Islanders were better at 2.33. After a sluggish start Dallas has rediscovered their recipe for success: stingy defence and timely goal scoring.

They rarely overwhelm you offensively, but they suffocate teams defensively.

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The Stars have allowed 52 goals at 5×5 this season, third fewest in the NHL. Edmonton has allowed 81, third most in the NHL. Edmonton has scored 65 goals at 5×5, while the Stars have scored 59. The Oilers are -16 at 5×5 while Dallas is +7. The Oilers special teams have won them games with their PP sitting first and their PK is sixth. The Stars PK is third best at 85.7%, but they haven’t surrendered a powerplay goal on home ice since October 29th. In their previous 11 home games they have killed off all 39 penalties.

The Oilers do have the league’s best road PP at 32.6%, which is much better than even second place Washington at 26.4%, so this should be a great battle if the Oilers get a few powerplays.

Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett likely realizes his team will need to try and break even at 5×5 to have a chance tonight, and that’s likely why he is going with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as his top-three centres. He is hopeful they can at least match the Stars at even strength.

LINEUP…

Oilers

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

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Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Bear
Russell-Jones

Koskinen

The McDavid trio was absolutely dominant against the Hurricanes last week. They outscored them 2-0, had a 91.3CF% (21-2) and outshot opponents 14-1. It was only one game, but that line should be okay tonight. The second and third lines will need to be better 5×5 for the Oilers to have a chance tonight.

Stars

Benn-Seguin-Radulov
Janmark-Hintz-Pavelski
Cogliano-Faksa-Comeau
Gurianov-Dickinson-Perry

Lindell-Klingberg
Oleksiak-Heiskanen
Sekera-Polak

Bishop

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Ben Bishop’s .933sv% is third best in the NHL, and it is remarkable that his EVSV% (.931) is slightly lower than his PKSV% (.932). Even though Bishop doesn’t face a high amount of shots, he has been very good on dangerous shots and is tied for the fourth best Sv% on high danger chances. Bishop has allowed four goals once this season, October 14th in Buffalo, and he’s allowed three goals six times, but only three times in his past 17 starts since October 19th, and since then, Bishop leads the NHL with a .944Sv% and a 1.78 GAA. Scoring three goals on him would be considered a win itself.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: This looks like a bad matchup for the Oilers. The Stars are very good at 5×5 and they can play a patient game and wait for you to make a mistake. The Oilers have made the big mistake recently. Oilers losing skid continues with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Dallas scores first. Oilers have been down 2-0 in each of their past four games.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Darnell Nurse scores his first goal in 25 games.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Big thanks to Josh, Andrew and Rhett for their bids on the Oilers/Leafs game, dinner at Vivo Ristorante and the Custom Fit package.

Day 11: Ultimate TV Room from The Brick

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You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. All the money raised will help out Santas Anonymous.

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