Welcome, dear Nation citizens, to another Hockey Night in Canada edition of the GDB to help us all get set for tonight’s contest between the @Edmonton Oilers and @Columbus Blue Jackets.
After picking up four of six points on their road trip, the Oilers make their return to Rogers Place for the second and final matchup of the season against the Blue Jackets, and it’s a game with all kinds of playoff implications for both sides. We’re at a time of the season where every game is important and the Oilers have to make sure that they don’t let single losses turn into streaks in the wrong direction. For our boys in orange, they’re in the mix to track down first place in the division while the Jackets are sitting in a Wildcard position and looking to put some space between themselves and the teams looking to steal their spot. With two valuable points on the line and both clubs coming into tonight’s contest on the back of a tough loss, you know that we’re going to see two highly motivated hockey teams that are looking to get back in the win column. At least, that’s the theory anyway.
Looking back at the Oilers’ last two games, they were heavily outplayed by both the Stars and Blackhawks despite the mixed results, and I’m hoping they can get back to playing with the same relentlessness that we saw in the blowout against the Predators earlier in the week. Outside of a few moments of defensive ‘what the hell are you doing’-ness, the Oilers played about as dominant of a game as you could possibly hope for, and while I don’t think they should be expected to put up a touchdown and a rouge every night, I think we can all agree that it would be nice to see a full (mostly) 60 minutes. When they play at their best, this is a team that can cause some damage. Besides, the Oilers can’t rely on favours from the out of town scoreboard so it will be up to them to keep winning and ensure that their fate is in their own hands.
Not to mention, wouldn’t it be nice to see a Torts freakout in his post-game presser? Of course it would.
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-3-2||2-4-4|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||48.90||51.59|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
RNH – McDavid – Kassian
Ennis – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Athanasiou – Sheahan – Archibald
Neal – Khaira – Chiasson
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Russell
Dave Tippett pulled out the blender a little bit this morning as we will see some changes in the top-six, specifically RNH and Kassian moving up with McDavid while Ennis will play alongside Draisaitl. Josh Archibald will also return to his normal spot on the third line. Personally, I was a little bit surprised to see him break up NuDraMoto considering how well that line has played of late, but I guess he wasn’t happy with the effort against Chicago and felt like some changes were needed. What’s not as surprising is seeing Mikko Koskinen get the start after the big Finn put in a pair of stellar performances in his start against Dallas and in relief against Chicago.
Wennberg – Dubois – Bemstrom
Foligno – Jenner – Nyquist
Stenlund – Nash – Robinson
Lilja – Shore – Matteau
Werenski – Murray
Gavrikov – Savard
Harrington – Peeke
The Blue Jackets have been really inconsistent of late and it will be up to the Oilers to make sure that they come into tonight’s game prepared and ready to go because this is an opponent that’s down on the mat a little bit, and it would be nice to see them get kicked while they’re down.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Western Canadian road trip has rarely held any sort of importance for the Columbus Blue Jackets outside of travelling and displaced fans bragging rights. This season has a much different meaning to it, and this often forgotten road trip can make or break the playoff hopes that the Jackets currently sit on the fence on.
This road trip has already seen the Blue Jackets take on the Calgary Flames in a game they could have easily come away with two points from. That being said, they could not hold on to the lead and eventually lost outside of regulation, resulting in a much-needed point to keep the ship afloat.
The first game of the two (weekend games) comes against Edmonton on Saturday, a team with a high-powered offense and a weaker blue line and goaltending situation. Columbus did not play well in the first meeting with the Oilers this season, losing 4-1 during a rough stretch of the season for the Blue Jackets. Needless to say, this is a much different lineup and it could quite easily result in two points for the Jackets – if they can find a way to slow down Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and company.
Game Day Prediction: Normally, I worry about the first game back from a road trip but the boys calm my fears and walk away with a 4-3 victory.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Leon Draisaitl gets another point, and the eastern media will come up with some new ridiculous arguments as to why he’s not the best player in the league right now.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: We have 26 German hockey fans in town for a Canadian hockey experience and they buy all of the Draisaitl jerseys at Rogers Place. Draisaitl responds with a multi-point effort that sends them all into a state of euphoria.
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