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GDB 55.0: Get to the choppa (5pm MT, SNW)

Welcome, fair citizens, to a fresh Saturday GDB to get us all set for tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators. After losing their last two games in a disappointing fashion, the Oilers will be looking to rebound against a Predators team that has routinely stolen their lunch money over the past few years. Can it be done? We’re only a few hours from finding out. 

When these two teams last met, the Oilers came up with one of their most complete games of the season, ending Pekka Rinne’s 12-game reign of terror (read: win streak) that he had been holding over our heads for years. It was one of those ridiculous stats that no one could really figure out, but was a constant annoyance to hear about nevertheless and we were all pumped that the boys were able to put an end to the nonsense. Heading into that game, I know that a lot of us were worried about what we’d be in store for as the Oilers haven’t exactly had a whole lot of luck against the Preds, which made that victory all the more special and satisfying. It was one of those wins that had the Nation excited and ready to believe that better days are ahead, and I think we could all use another dose of those same good vibes after the lacklustre games we watched over the last couple of nights.

Against the Coyotes and Sharks, the Oilers looked nothing at all like the team that swept the previous weekend against the defending champs and Calgary Flames which has made this entire week feel like a rollercoaster that none of us wanted to be on. To me, the Oilers had an incredible opportunity to take advantage of two divisional opponents that were battling some significant injuries and to come up as flat as they did is nothing short of maddening. Yeah, you could say that they lucked out in the sense that the rest of the division sucked basically as bad as they did, but I look at this more like a missed opportunity to put some space between themselves and the teams chasing behind. That said, what’s done is done and a win tonight would go a long way to restoring our faith and getting the train back on the rails, but it’s certainly not going to be easy as beating the Predators is a tall order at the best of times.

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Maybe a little adversity is exactly what they needed, ya know? Maybe I’m just being hopeful? Let me know what you guys think in the comments section.

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THE NUMBERS

OILERS PREDATORS
RECORD 28-20-6 26-20-7
WIN/LOSS STREAK L2 W2
LAST 10 GAMES 6-3-1 6-4-0
GOALS FOR 173 174
GOALS AGAINST 171 174
POWER PLAY% 28.8 17.1
PENALTY KILL% 82.9 74.8
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 29.8 33.5
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.3 30.3
TEAM SAVE% .900 .893
CORSI FOR% 48.13 51.69
PDO 0.992 1.007
TEAM SHOOTING% 8.53 8.92
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 48.91 51.90

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Gagner – McDavid – Kassian
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Khaira – Sheahan – Archibald
Benson – Haas – Chiasson

Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Benning

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Smith

Leading up to tonight’s game, I was curious to see how Dave Tippett would put together his lines together considering that the last two games have been disastrous. Would he stick with the combos that provided the team with success only a few short days earlier, or would he blend things up entirely in the hopes of getting more guys going? Based on what went down at yesterday’s practice, Tippett made a few tweaks but will, more or less, be sticking with the same trios and it will be interesting to see how they respond.

Predators

Jarnkrok – Johansen – Arvidsson
Forsberg – Duchene – Granlund
Grimaldi – Bonino – Smith
Trenin – Turris – Blackwell

Josi – Weber
Tinordi – Ekholm
Hamhuis – Carrier

Rinne

Winners of their last two games, the Predators are starting to make some noise in the Western Conference as look to get back into a playoff spot and I really hope that the Oilers do a better job of getting themselves ready to play otherwise we could be in for a long night.

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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Predlines:

After the 3-2 win last night over the Flames up in Alberta, the Predators have now upped their road record to 15-9-3 on the season. That’s one of the best road records in the Western Conference, and is an awesome development if the Predators are going to sneak into the playoffs.

This is a road trip with massive implications that the Predators are currently on. They already have two wins on it, and have two more to go before returning back home to take on the New York Islanders next week.

All of these games are coming against playoff contenders that are jumbled up together. The Flames are now just one point ahead of the Predators in the standings for a wildcard spot, with the Arizona Coyotes two points ahead.

The Predators will play Arizona in late March as the regular season will be winding down. The Coyotes have also played three more games than the Predators right now, so you have to favor the chances of the Predators to eventually pass them up in the standings.

Things are suddenly looking very promising, and that can directly be attributed to the perseverance and grind-it-out nature head coach John Hynes is instilling in this squad on the road.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Dave Tippett promised the boys ice cream if they could come up with a better effort than in the past two games and they did exactly that. Oilers win it by a 4-2 score. 

Obvious Game Day Prediction: We’ll have to hear about how bad the Oilers have been against the Predators at least four times today. 

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The crowd at Rogers Place is fired up for tonight’s game after getting their Saturday started with the return of the XFL. 

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