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GDB +4.0: Stayin’ Alive (7:45pm MT, SNW)

Backs against the wall, the Edmonton Oilers have a monstrous hill to climb as they face elimination for the first time in their series against the Winnipeg Jets. Can the boys keep their playoff dreams alive? We shall see.

I honestly have no idea how to start this GDB. As I write this, I’ve got Twitter open in one tab in my Chrome and last night’s Wrap Up in another, and I honestly don’t think the vibe could be any worse around here than it is right now. I won’t put us all through the pain of reliving the horror that happened against the Anaheim Ducks back in 2017, but I have to say how much last night’s loss gave off the same energy because it was about as devastating as a collapse can get. It was only a week ago that our hearts were filled with anticipation and desire for what was sure to be an exciting playoff run, but that is not at all what we’ve gotten to this point. Instead, we’ve watched the Oilers lose games in what feels like every way possible and I’m having a hard time coming up with the words to describe what a bummer this has been. Now, in the face of elimination, we’re left to hope for the impossible as the Oilers will try to become the first team since the 2014 Kings to come back from a 3-0 deficit, and based on the way our luck has been running so far, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I feel like their completing the task seems unlikely. I’m still hopeful, but it would be incredibly disingenuous to suggest that I’m anything other than heartbroken.

I think the most frustrating part about this whole situation is that the Oilers probably played well enough to win at least two of the three games — maybe all three if you’re feeling especially frisky — but they haven’t been able to execute on the details needed to make it happen. Last night, they were up by a field goal with 10 minutes to play, which should be more than enough space to cruise to victory, but rather than keeping the hammer down to secure the bag, they sat back in a 1-3-1 to try and ride the clock out before imploding in spectacular fashion. How does that happen? During the regular season, the Oilers were mostly automatic when playing with a lead in the third period but it seems like they’ve got a serious case of the yips going on and they’ll need to sort that out immediately if they’re going to have a snowball’s chance in hell of turning this ship around. If we’re looking for good news and reasons to believe a comeback is possible, the Oilers are dominating the fancies right now which implies that a little bit of luck would go a long way to a better result but the question is whether or not the Hockey Gords will let us have it. Either way, I’m going to try my best to enjoy the game seeing as it could be the last one of the year, and since the Oilers should hopefully play like they have nothing to lose, here’s hoping we can extend the ride a little bit longer.

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Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS JETS
RECORD 0-3-0 3-0-0
WIN/LOSS STREAK L3 W3
GOALS FOR 5 8
GOALS AGAINST 8 5
POWER PLAY% 14.3 40.0
PENALTY KILL% 60.0 85.7
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 39.7 39.7
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.7 31.7
TEAM SAVE% .928 .962
CORSI FOR% 54.73 45.27
PDO 0.966 1.034
TEAM SHOOTING% 3.85 7.23
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 59.27 40.73

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

LINEUPS…

Oilers

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

Nurse – Bear
Kulikov – Larsson
Koekkoek – Barrie

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Smith

At this point, I don’t care about the line combinations or defensive pairings but rather that we see the team give a full 60 minutes worth of effort. If there is any way that the Oilers can grind their way back into the series, it’s going to come on the back of hard work and execution and it will take all 18 guys to buy into that process.

***GAME UPDATE*** Josh Archibald was suspended for one game for clipping.

Jets

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

Morrissey – DeMelo
Forbort – Pionk
Stanley – Poolman

Hellebuyck

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I was really hoping that the Oilers were going to try and be more physical with players like Ehlers and PLD considering both of those guys are coming back from injury, but for the most part, neither of them have had to contend with much pressure. In Ehler’s case, he was able to walk around the offensive zone and basically do as he pleased, and it was incredibly annoying to see how much time and space he had to do his thing.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Jetsnation.ca:

Winning the special teams battle is important in any hockey game, but when a team is up against the Edmonton Oilers, it becomes even more important. It’s no secret that Edmonton’s powerplay personnel makes them absolutely lethal with the man advantage.

Tomorrow, and for the rest of the series, the Jets will need to get back to be as disciplined as they were in game one, when they took just one penalty.

Additionally, the Jets need to take advantage of every power play opportunity they’re given. They managed to storm back tonight after Mathieu Perreault jammed one home with eight minutes remaining and started the miraculous comeback.

The importance of coming through on the man advantage and killing off opposing power plays cannot be stressed enough.

The Jets won the special teams battle last night, and it won them the game.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers live to fight another day after taking game four with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Another point for both McDavid and Draisaitl.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers actually win a hockey game in this series. I’m really going out on a limb with this one, I know.

#MISSIONSTANLEY

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