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Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 53.0: Let’s Try That Again (8pm MT, CBC)

We’re coming down the home stretch, dear friends, but even though our beloved Oilers already have a playoff spot locked up, it doesn’t mean that there’s not still work left to do. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready for game day. 

With only four games left on the schedule and a playoff spot wrapped up, I wonder how long it will be until Dave Tippett starts to lighten the load for his top players or if he even will at this point. Is that even part of the plan? I know he’s said in his post practice pressers that he doesn’t expect to reduce Connor and Leon’s minutes too much and that those two played about as much as usual on Thursday night, but what he says to the media and what he actually does are two separate conversations entirely. I mean, we all want Connor to get his 100 points but not if it comes at a risk to his health or ability to perform in games that actually matter. That said, I’m also not sure how you take the guy off the ice considering he’s working through a heater that we haven’t seen in this league since Wayne and Mario were around. It’s an interesting dilemma we have on our hands here, friends, and I’m excited and intrigued to see how Tippett balances things out. I mean, how would we even react if Connor was sitting on 99 points and Dave Tippett gave him a night off? Would we burn the arena down? Would we sit back and accept the decision with grace? Pointless thoughts? Right. Let’s move on.

Looking at tonight’s game, I’m honestly expecting that the Oilers will be able to rebound and get themselves back in the win column after a tough outing in round three. Yeah, I know I’m biased with my takes on this, but you would have a really hard time convincing me that our boys shouldn’t beat the Canucks more often than not, and I said that before even acknowledging what went wrong. Ignoring the obvious problem from Thursday night’s loss, I think a lot of us would probably agree that most of the Oilers roster played like the better team and they probably would have been able to get at least a point had they been operating under normal conditions. I’m not going to dwell on Kostco’s unfortunate NHL record — the poor dude has been beaten to death over the past two days — but rather focus on the task at hand which is still to secure down home ice advantage for the playoffs. All we need is one point out of this thing and the Oilers are locked into second place in the North Division, and if we can get a few McPoints along the way then that would also be fantastic. That all said, I also wonder whether round four in this week-long series will have more of the chippiness we saw two days ago as both sides are likely tired of seeing each other at this point. Could we be in for more excitement than expected? We shall see.

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Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS CANUCKS
RECORD 32-18-2 20-25-3
WIN/LOSS STREAK L1 W1
LAST 10 GAMES 7-3-0 3-7-0
GOALS FOR 170 129
GOALS AGAINST 141 159
POWER PLAY% 27.0 18.2
PENALTY KILL% 81.3 78.2
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 29.8 29.2
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 30.7 33.3
TEAM SAVE% .917 .915
CORSI FOR% 48.82 46.42
PDO 1.007 0.994
TEAM SHOOTING% 9.00 7.92
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 49.72 49.72

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers ***UPDATED***

Kahun – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Neal – McLeod – Chiasson
Shore – Khaira – Archibald

Nurse – Barrie
Lagesson – Larsson
Jones – Bear

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Smith

I’m always interested in Dave Tippett’s line combinations, especially after a loss because he tends to mix things up a little bit and that’s what we got yesterday at practice. Instead of keeping McDrai as a pair, Tippett reunited NuDraMoto while Kahun will slide up with McDavid. With only four games left until the big dance starts, I wonder if we’ll see more minutes for the bottom six if the team manages to grab themselves a lead.

***UPDATES*** Looks like Kulikov is out tonight and William Lagesson is back in. 

Canucks

Pearson – Horvat – Lind
Höglander – Miller – Boeser
Highmore – Graovac – Hawryluk
Vesey – Boyd – MacEwen

Edler – Schmidt
Hughes – Hamonic
Juolevi – Myers

Demko

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I’m not going to lie, I honestly feel bad for the Canucks that they have to play so many games in such a short period of time just because the NHL needs to collect that sweet, sweet TV revenue.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Canucksarmy.com:

The Canucks beat the Oilers handily on Thursday and just like that, it’s time to talk about the postseason. If the Canucks run the table to finish the season and the Montreal Canadiens lose at least two of their final three games then the Canucks will dance with greatness in May. How hard is it to win eight straight games at the end of the season? Well, hard.

Crazier things have happened, I mean take a look at the NHL Dept. of Player Safety; they spin the random wheel of punishment to decide their wrath. The Canucks can do this and imagine if they do?

Alex Burrows scored in OT against the Hurricanes and turned things around for a lengthy streak so why can’t the injury/suspension riddled 2021 team it too?

Let’s Do This!™

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Once again, the Edmonton Oilers are simply too much to handle for the Canucks and the boys walk away with a 4-2 victory. 

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid gets another multi-point game. Leon too. 

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Kailer Yamamoto finally cashes one in. The guy has had 3000 chances over the past few games and tonight is the night when he finally ends the drought.

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