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Photo Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 56.0: Closing Time (1:30pm MT, SNW)

We’re nearly at the finish line, dear friends, but we’ve still got one more game left on the schedule to get ourselves set for the postseason. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to get ourselves ready for the final regular season game day of the year. 

I don’t know about you guys but this last week of games has really dragged on for me. As much as it was fantastic to see McDavid hit the McCentury and have the boys lock up home-ice advantage for the playoffs, these last couple of outings have made me more nervous than excited to watch how they end up. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you think I’m overreacting, but when you’re facing a team like Vancouver that has absolutely nothing left to play for then the idea of just making it through 60 minutes without anyone getting hurt becomes that much more important. It’s a stressful dance that I’ll probably be dealing with until the final buzzer sounds, ya know? The problem, I think, is that we don’t know what the Canucks are going to do as many of them are either playing for contracts or jobs next season. Who’s to say that one of their fourth-liners won’t think that the best way to make a name for himself would be to take a run at the best player on earth? You can see it, can’t you? It’s worrisome and I don’t like thinking about it. Then again, I’ve also been accused of overexaggerating in the comments section so maybe my baseless fears are another product of my mind playing tricks on me?

No matter what happens, it’s strange to not give two shits about what happens in this hockey game, but with the playoffs kicking off in a few days, the best part about it will likely be when the final buzzer sounds. As much as it would be nice to see a few more McPoints get thrown on the pile as another punctuation mark on his incredible season, I’d much rather be packing his equipment with those little shipping beans or watching between the play clips of him eating popcorn in the press box. Show him playing Sudoku for all I care, I just want him to feel at his best when Wednesday rolls around. But since the big boys are indeed playing this afternoon, I think the way to make us all feel comfortable is if the only minutes Connor and Leon get come on the man advantage but even that’s pushing it. I know that’s probably not the smartest strategy to run with if you’re wanting to win, but my argument to that would simply be “who cares” when the outcome means absolutely nothing. Not to mention, it is a beautiful day here in Edmonton and I’d much rather spend the day outside getting some sun than worrying about whether or not one of the Canucks is going to try something stupid. 

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Let’s see what the numbers say. 

THE NUMBERS

OILERS CANUCKS
RECORD 35-18-2 21-28-3
WIN/LOSS STREAK W3 L2
LAST 10 GAMES 8-2-0 2-8-0
GOALS FOR 182 136
GOALS AGAINST 150 173
POWER PLAY% 28.1 17.0
PENALTY KILL% 82.2 78.1
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 29.9 29.0
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 30.5 33.3
TEAM SAVE% .916 .914
CORSI FOR% 48.78 46.15
PDO 1.005 0.993
TEAM SHOOTING% 8.96 7.85
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 49.60 45.34

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Kahun – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Neal – Haas – Chiasson
Nygard – Khaira – Archibald

Nurse – Barrie
Kulikov – Larsson
Koekkoek – Bear

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Koskinen

The most interesting thing about tonight’s lineup is that Slater Koekkoek slides in on the third pairing after missing the past couple of months with a broken collarbone. Back in January, I thought Koekkoek performed well for the Oilers but as the season went along, his play started to slip and he ended up getting hurt, so I’m curious to see how he looks of if he’ll even factor in once we get to the postseason.

Canucks

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

Edler – Schmidt
Hughes – Hamonic
Juolevi – Myers

Demko

The fact that the Canucks still have three more games after this one is so weird, especially since there is a playoff game coming up right after this one is over. I mean, I know the league and Sportsnet and sponsors all want to get their money’s worth, but what are we really doing here? How demoralizing is it for these guys to have to finish up this season knowing that the playoffs are already happening around them?

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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Canucksarmy.com:

Today, the Canucks have the absolute pleasure of playing the Oilers in a mean-nothing game prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning later in the day. The NHL felt that today’s game and the subsequent ones to follow were very necessary and would not diminish the overall product they hope to protect.

Well, the league failed.

The Canucks are completely out of gas but like Cosmo Kramer pushing the limits of the test drive in New York, the Canucks will go to the bitter end kicking and screaming, and oh, will they ever scream.

Cue J.T. Miller.

Let’s Do This!™

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: Vancouver sucks and Edmonton cruises to a 4-2 win. 

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid gets another multi-point night even though his minutes were lower than he’s used to. 

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Tonight is the night when Kailer Yamamoto FINALLY cashes in on one of his many chances. I really mean it this time.

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