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Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

GDB +3.0: Backs Against the Wall (5:30pm MT, CBC)

I know that today’s game doesn’t technically count as a must-win situation for the Edmonton Oilers, but it’s about as close as it gets since going down 3-0 in the series would be nothing short of disastrous. Win and you’re alive, lose and you’re at a standing eight count.

The first round is well underway and our beloved Edmonton Oilers find themselves behind in a way that I doubt many of us would have seen coming before the show got started. I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that the first two games in this series have been endlessly frustrating for many many reasons, and the fact that the boys have only been able to score one goal over 120+ minutes of hockey is a problem that I certainly didn’t expect. I mean, who could have predicted that the two most productive players in the NHL would be held off the board for the first two games of this series? Did you look at Winnipeg’s defence and think, “yeah this is the squad that can shut those two down?” It’s like we’re in the twilight zone or something, and the whole situation is making me very uncomfortable. Either way, what happened in the first two games can’t matter here on night three, and the Oilers have to make sure they’re sticking to their game plan while also cranking up the urgency to a level that a must-win situation deserves. I want to see them crashing the net, digging for garbage, hitting everything that moves, and hacking away at anything that even resembles a puck as a means of trying to end their offensive drought. This is a climbable hill but it certainly won’t be easy.

The morning, I got up early and took my dog for a walk, and as were cruising around my neighbourhood, it was hard not to notice all of the Oilers car flags that people are rocking right now which was yet another reminder of how important this game is. For a city that hasn’t seen many playoff runs over the last decade and a half, these first two games have felt like a kick to the shin but a win to get back in the series would turn that sentiment around immediately. The support for this team could not have been higher around these parts, and I know that a win here in game three will bring those vibes back. When the Oilers were last in Winnipeg, they rattled off three straight wins and outscored the Jets by a 12-2 margin which is the exact kind of offensive run that we need to right the ship in this series. Not only did the boys play about as well as we had seen all season, but Connor McDavid also put up a hat trick during that three-game set and I couldn’t think of a better time than right now to come up with another dose of that McMagic to break the seal and start to patch up the hole that’s forming in our collective hearts. A comeback has to start with one game, and maybe today’s is the one that gets the ball rolling.

Let’s see what the numbers say.

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THE NUMBERS

OILERS JETS
RECORD 0-2-0 2-0-0
WIN/LOSS STREAK L2 W2
GOALS FOR 1 3
GOALS AGAINST 3 1
POWER PLAY% 0.0 0.0
PENALTY KILL% 100 100
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 35.5 29.0
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 29.0 35.5
TEAM SAVE% .942 .949
CORSI FOR% 58.2 41.98
PDO 0.958 1.042
TEAM SHOOTING% 1.54 5.77
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 58.47 41.53

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Draisaitl – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – McLeod – Kassian
Shore – Khaira – Archibald
Ennis – Haas – Yamamoto

Nurse – Bear
Kulikov – Larsson
Koekkoek – Barrie

Smith

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Looking at the line combos from the morning skate, Dave Tippett pulled out the blender as basically everyone got mixed up in addition to subbing in Tyler Ennis for Dominik Kahun. How will this affect what’s generated offensively? We shall see. I know I’m about as biased as it gets when it comes to the Oilers but I refuse to believe that the Jets will be able to keep Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the board for long. Those two guys are way too good to be shut out forever, and I honestly believe it’s only a matter of time before the dam break.

Jets

Connor – Scheifele – Wheeler
Dubois – Stastny – Ehlers
Copp – Lowry – Appleton
Perreault – Thompson – Lewis

Morrissey – DeMelo
Forbort – Pionk
Stanley – Poolman

Hellebuyck

The fact that the Jets were able to do such a good job of limiting McDavid and Draisaitl over the first couple of games has been endlessly annoying, and I’m curious to see what changes Paul Maurice will try (if any) now that he’s got the last change. So far, the Jets’ top line has been quiet and I’m going to guess that he’ll try and get them out against Ennis – Haas – Yamamoto whenever he gets the chance, so let’s see how close I get.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Jetsnation.ca: 

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Hot performer of period three goes to the same guy as Game One, Connor Hellebuyck. He made some really big saves, whether they were drives to the net like Darnell Nurse’s backhander late in the period or some weird bounces during the five-on-three penalty kill. The guy played like a mad man. Honorable mention goes to Dylan DeMelo for blocking the shot with his arm and keeping the score at zero.

I will give a cold performer to the forward group in the third period, simply because they couldn’t generate any rebounds and those are the only way they can beat Smith. It’s a cop-out, but I stand by it.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers get the win they so desperately need, walking away from game three with a 4-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The stress around Edmonton is sky high today and despite this being a long weekend, the vibes around here are anything but chill until the Oilers get themselves on the board with an early goal.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite what recent history may suggest, the Edmonton Oilers will score more than one goal tonight.

#MISSIONSTANLEY

First goal playoffs, next up: Mission Stanley. Grab your #MISSIONSTANLEY tee here.