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Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 42.0: Closing Time 2019 (7pm MT, SNW)

After Friday night’s disaster against Calgary, the Edmonton Oilers will be looking for a rebound effort with the New York Rangers in town to close out the calendar year.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still annoyed about the way Friday night’s game played out against the Flames even as I write this. From the very start of that game, the Oilers were unprepared to play and seemed to shoot themselves in the foot almost every chance they got, which was incredibly frustrating to watch against a team like the Flames where they should have no problems getting themselves motivated. To put it lightly, that game was a nightmare. In all three zones, the Oilers were sloppy and out of sorts, leaving ample opportunity for the Flames to make plays and take advantage of all kinds of unnecessary zone time. From buzzer to buzzer, that evening was infuriating beyond repair and even thinking about it right now is making me mad all over again.

It goes without saying that the Oilers will have to be much better in every facet of their game if they legitimately want to end their losing skid and get back into the win column tonight against the Rangers. I mean, we’ve heard plenty of talk from the boys about what needs to be done over the past few days, a standard around these parts when things go poorly, but now it’s time to see if they can follow it up with some action. With the lines freshly blended, a pair of guys recalled from Bakersfield, and the Nation brimming with murderous rage, the Oilers have a lot of pressure on them to get off the schneid and find their way back into the win column. Even so, tonight’s game against the Rangers will be no gimme. Despite not having neither Connor or Leon, New York has players that can score and they actually generate more offence than Edmonton, and that’s going to be another big test for a defensive group that’s been shaky of late. Can it be done? Of course. But getting the job done certainly won’t be easy.

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At least the Oilers are rock solid in New Year’s Eve games, right? *sigh* Happy New Year, everybody!

THE NUMBERS

OILERS RANGERS
RECORD 20-17-4 19-15-4
WIN/LOSS STREAK L2 W2
LAST 10 GAMES 2-7-1 5-4-1
GOALS FOR 118 124
GOALS AGAINST 129 125
POWER PLAY% 29.2 18.7
PENALTY KILL% 83.1 78.5
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 29.1 29.7
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.2 35.1
TEAM SAVE% .900 .908
CORSI FOR% 47.52 44.07
PDO 0.987 1.012
TEAM SHOOTING% 7.77 9.36
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 48.41 44.30

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Neal – McDavid – Kassian
Nygard – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Khaira – RNH – Gagner
Sheahan – Haas – Archibald

Klefbom – Bear
Nurse – K. Russell
Lagesson – Larsson

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Koskinen

The blender is out, turds have been thrown at the wall, players have been recalled, and it’s time for the Edmonton Oilers to prove that they can compete. At this stage of the season, there’s not much time left for excuses and they need to start piling up some wins or we’ll be left with another playoff-less run filled with sadness and rumours of certain captains wanting out. Basically, what I’m getting at here is that winning is the only option this team has left and if they’re not going to do it then management needs to speed up whatever plan they’ve got because time is running out.

Rangers

Kreider – Zibanejad – Buchnevich
Panarin – Strome – Fast
Lemieux – Chytil – Kakko
Smith – McKegg – Howden

Skjei – Trouba
Staal – DeAngelo
Lindgren – Fox

Georgiev

How good would Ryan Strome look as the Oilers’ 3C right now? The answer: very good.

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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Blue Line Station:

Forward lines revolve around the centers, so let’s talk about them.

Assuming Mika Zibanejad is given the mega extension he deserves, the Swedish superstar will be one of the cornerstones of these new Blueshirts. It’s also more than likely that Zibanejad will be named the 28th captain in New York’s history.

Here’s where things get interesting. After Zibanejad, the center depth is really unknown. I can only use my best judgement here so keep it light on the comments.

Ryan Strome is only 26 years old, right on the cusp of entering his prime. He is on pace to set career highs this season and his point production is comparable to Islanders superstar Matt Barzal so far this season. The main question is does Jeff Gorton and company feel he is part of the future, or should they sell him high and relieve some of the salary cap stress.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Part of my schtick is always picking the Oilers to win in the GDB and it’s been backfiring on me for the past month so I’m going to run with a reverse psychology type of idea and suggest a 3-2 Rangers win. 

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Gene will make at least two ‘2020 vision’ jokes during the broadcast and I will love him for it. 

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Bob Nicholson will be a part of a 2019 retrospective where he talks about how happy he is with how things have gone in the past 12 months. We’ll all get angry, but he won’t understand why. 

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