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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Predictions for the Oilers vs Blackhawks play-in round?

Happy game week, Nation! As we do every Monday morning, I’ve got a fresh mailbag ready with the answers you’ve ever wanted to know about the NHL’s return and life in general. Once again, our panel of life coaches wandered into the depths of their brains to offer you every nugget of wisdom that they could muster and all for the low low price of absolutely nothing at all. As always, this feature depends on you guys so I need you to submit your questions. If you have something you’d like to know you can always email me, or DM me on Twitter. With that out of the way, it’s time to learn something. Enjoy.

Jan 29, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian (44) and Calgary Flames forward Matt Tkachuk (19) fight during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

1) Travis asks – What are you expecting from Tuesday’s exhibition game between the Oilers and Flames? Do you think the animosity will still be there or will both teams simply be using the night to try and work out some rust?

Robin Brownlee:

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I think there’ll be plenty of edge to the game but nothing goofy. This will be the first situation for both teams to be in a game situation and I expect they’ll use that to run their lines and get up to speed in general. I expect we’ll see pretty much the starting line-up for both teams on the ice and both goaltenders for the Oilers.

Jason Gregor:

I’m not expecting any fireworks. Both teams will be focused on getting in game shape. Maybe we see an odd scrum, but unless someone delivers a huge hit I don’t see the emotions running too hot.

Cam Lewis:

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It’s fair to be a little bit anxious about this game given the fact Connor McDavid suffered his brutal injury against the Flames in a meaningless game at the end of the 2018-19 season and the Flames have some notoriously *cough* Mark Giordano *cough* players on their roster. But, after four months off, I think players will be more worried about getting themselves up to game speed than they will about bringing the intensity of the Battle of Alberta rivalry we saw this year.

Zach Laing:

I don’t think it’s going to anything crazy. The two teams are both going to be looking to get some jump back into their games as they prepare for the important games on August 1st. For anyone looking for anything similar to what we saw earlier this year, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

Baggedmilk:

I think they’ll be pretty quiet in terms of physicality as both sides will be looking to knock the rest off rather than settle old scores. We can save those for later on in the playoffs.

Photo: NHL.com

2) Marc in GP asks – I’ve been watching a lot of baseball and basketball to try and get an idea of what it will be like to watch hockey without fans, and I’m very much enjoying the intimacy that comes with the absence of having a crowd. My question for the panel is what, if anything, you’re looking forward to most when it comes to this unique opportunity to watch fanless games?

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Robin Brownlee:

No donkeys banging the glass or standing up and throwing their arms in the air every time the camera pans past them. Actually looking forward to seeing how the league dresses up the seating area with the tarping, signage etc that was discussed and shown in an artist’s concept last week.

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Jason Gregor:

There will be 12 extra cameras so we should see the game from different angles. I’ve long believed TV made the NHL look easier than it is, and didn’t capture how fast the game is. I’m hoping the extra cameras showcase that.

Cam Lewis:

The NBA has done some really cool, floor-level camera stuff that makes it feel like you’re a part of the action. The NHL doesn’t have the same courtside open space that the NBA does, obviously, but it’ll be interesting to see what the NHL’s creative teams can do with more room in the stadium to operate with.

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Zach Laing: 

It’s going to be interesting to see how the players respond. I don’t think it’s going to be anything crazy for them but at the end of the day they’re definitely used to the added crowd noise. The new camera angles are going to be cool and I’m excited to see what they do with the added displays in the rink.

Baggedmilk:

I’m looking forward to seeing these new camera angles that we’ve heard about as well as all of the hilarious swears that bleed through on TV even though they’re on a five-second delay.

Feb 8, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal against the Nashville Predators in the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) Steph asks – If you were to put a percentage on it, how likely do you think it is that Leon Draisaitl will win the Hart Trophy?

Robin Brownlee:

I think he should win it on merit, but it’s a vote so let’s go with 80 per cent to allow for an upset — thinking back to RNH getting stiffed on the Calder Trophy.

Jason Gregor:

All three players are worthy. How voters view it will be fascinating. I don’t see a clear choice, because, remember, this is most valuable to your team. It is a different than Ted Lindsay, which I think Draisaitl has a better chance to win. But if you are asking for a percentage I will say he has a 57% to win.

Cam Lewis:

I’d say it’s a 50/50 flip for me. I do believe he should win, since I watched the Oilers all season and saw the value he brought to the team, but a lot of voters are going to see his minus-7 rating and penalize him for it. Voters who don’t watch the team closely will also likely mistakenly associate Draisaitl’s success with riding shotgun beside Connor McDavid, which isn’t even really accurate, but that’s just how these things go.

Zach Laing:

I don’t know. 70/30? I think MacKinnon and Panarin have compelling cases, but I really don’t know if its enough to knock Leon off the top.

Baggedmilk:

He should win it but I don’t think he will — I think the eastern voters don’t watch him play enough.

Mar 5, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Edmonton Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) scores a goal against Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) during the third period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

4) Yves asks – The play-in rounds start on Saturday and I want to know everyone’s prediction for the series between the Oilers and Blackhawks? I’m predicting that the Oil take it in five games.

Robin Brownlee:

I said in an item I wrote that I expect the Oilers to sweep it in three games if the Blackhawks don’t have Corey Crawford. He’s coming to Edmonton but has missed a lot of camp/workouts, so even if he does play there will be some rust. I suppose he could get the Blackhawks one game, but I still see it as a sweep and will stick with that.

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Jason Gregor:

Oilers win…I have entire playoff prediction article coming later this week, so will hold off in how many games until it is out.

Cam Lewis:

I’d have said a sweep without Corey Crawford in net, but, if he’s playing and healthy, he can probably steal Chicago a game. Oilers in four.

Zach Laing: 

Oilers in three. Clean sweep.

Baggedmilk:

Oil in four, baby!

5) Trish asks – What was everyone’s first impression regarding the Seattle Kraken? What do you think about the name, logo, and colours? I think they did a wonderful job in all aspects of this launch.

Robin Brownlee:

Not my first choice and I’m not crazy about the name, but I do like the colours and the logo. The presentation at the unveiling was very good. They’re after a younger demographic, not old guys like me, so I expect the name and colours will be very popular.

Jason Gregor:

No complaints about the name, logo or colours. Kraken is great, because it is so different that most monikers and the colour schemes are very different, which is great. I also liked both logos a lot.

Cam Lewis:

The jerseys are definitely sharp and they’ll look great on the ice. They also match other Seattle team aesthetics used by the Seahawks and the Mariners, so it all makes sense. Kraken as a name, though? I’m not a huge fan. I would have loved Sockeyes. It matches the city a bit more, I think. Kraken just makes me think of that rum.

Zach Laing:

Look, the NHL is not a very fun hockey league. As much as they try, they still struggle. So for the Seattle Kraken to come into the league is great because, well, they’re fun. Like seriously. The Kraken? I love it. And the logo and colour scheme are tremendous, too. I give it three bags of milk out of three.

Baggedmilk:

I think they did a solid job personally. The colours are solid and the logo is nice and clean. As for the name, Kraken is fine but certainly better than the Sockeyes, which was also rumoured to be in the running.

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