83Oilers Sharks
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 81.0: Chasing Home History (7:00pm MT, SN1)

The Edmonton Oilers secured home ice advantage in the first round of the 2022 NHL playoffs on Tuesday. They know they will host the Los Angeles Kings in game one on Monday, May 2nd. They have two regular season games between now and Monday, and because the results of the games won’t impact the standings or their upcoming playoff series, the Oilers are looking for other motivation.

They had a team goal to earn home ice and reach the 100-point mark. Both have been achieved.

So now they will look for other motivators for the final two games.

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“You want to stay in rhythm,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when asked if he’d want his minutes reduced. Derek Ryan added, “I’d prefer to just keep things the same. We clinched early in Calgary one year and kind of took of foot off the gas, and rested some guys. I’m not sure that is better.”

If one Oilers forwards is banged up, or in need of rest, then they might get tomorrow off, but not tonight.

Outside of staying in a flow and continuing to play well, the Oilers do have something they can rally around as a team tonight.

They can tie the franchise record for most consecutive home games with a point. The Oilers are 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. The loss came in a shootout, so they haven’t lost playing actual hockey on home ice since March 5th.

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A win, or OTL, and the Oilers will tie the 2004 and 1990 teams.

YEAR START DATE END DATE GP W L T OTL
2003-04 2/2/2004 3/28/2004 14 10 0 1 3
1989-90 11/15/1989 1/6/1990 14 11 0 3 0
2021-22 3/9/2022 4/22/2022 13 12 0 0 1
1983-84 10/5/1983 12/3/1983 12 10 0 2 0
1984-85 1/4/1985 2/23/1985 11 9 0 2 0
1982-83 2/4/1983 4/3/1983 11 9 0 2 0
1999-00 1/14/2000 2/25/2000 10 5 0 2 3
1985-86 11/3/1985 12/15/1985 10 8 0 2 0
1983-84 12/7/1983 1/27/1984 10 8 0 2 0
1981-82 12/23/1981 1/31/1982 10 9 0 1 0

The Oilers haven’t just been winning games at home, they’ve been dominating teams. They’ve outscored teams 63-30. Seven of the wins have been by three or more goals. It is going so well that Kris Russell has five points in the five home games he’s played. They are getting contributions up and down the lineup.

It doesn’t really matter who has played, the team has performed well.

Sixteen skaters have a GF% of 55% or better. Only four skaters have an xGF% below 50, and two of them, Philip Broberg and Derick Brassard, have only played three games. Ryan McLeod had a xGF of 47.3%, but he has a GF% of 53. 8%. He hasn’t played poorly at all.

The Oilers have made home ice a major advantage for them lately and they’d like to keep that going tonight against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks aren’t the most talented team, but they don’t quit. Even if they trail in games. They have the second most wins in the NHL after trailing by two goals. It isn’t a stat you want to be near the top of, because it means you’ve trailed by two goals too often, but the Sharks don’t quit, as illustrated by their victory 5-4 victory Sunday night in Vegas.

Vegas was desperate for a win to keep its playoff hopes alive and were leading 4-2 with 10 minutes remaining. Vegas had one shot in the final 10 minutes, while the Sharks had eight shots on goal and the Sharks scored twice. Timo Meier tied the game with 0.9 seconds remaining. San Jose won in a shootout.

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San Jose has shown a willingness to not give up in games, and that will encourage the Oilers to play well. I see it as a positive for Edmonton. You don’t want bad habits to creep in over these final two games. The Oilers have more skill than the Sharks, no doubt about it, and if the Oilers continue to use their speed, backcheck hard, defend well, then tonight will be another positive step towards the playoffs.

It might not mean anything in the standings, but continuing to play well and in rhythm is something Nugent-Hopkins wants for himself and the team.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Kane – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Hyman – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – RNH – Ryan
Brassard – McLeod – Kassian

Kulak – Ceci
Keith – Bouchard
Broberg – Barrie

Koskinen

Jesse Puljujarvi returns to the lineup after missing a few games due to an illness. Philip Broberg will get a game and Kris Russell gets a night off.

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Darnell Nurse has yet to skate, but the Oilers are still hopeful he is ready for game one on Monday night against the Kings.

Sharks

Meier – Hertl – Barabanov
Bonino – Couture – Nieto
Balcers – Bordeleau – Gregor
Gadjovich – Chmelevski – Reedy

Ferraro – Burns
Megna – Meloche
Vlasic – Merkley

Reimer

The Sharks’ second and third pairings could struggle against the Oilers’ top two lines, even the RNH line, which has played quite well.

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TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers continue their hot streak on home ice. Young Ben Stelter was on the ice with the group this morning and his presence simultaneously ignites and calms them. “Seeing him laughing and smiling, it makes us do the same. It is also a good reminder that there are much bigger things than hockey,” said Derek Ryan.

OBVIOUS GAME-DAY-PREDICTION: McDavid picks up his 46th multiple-point game of the season. Ridiculous.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan McLeod scores his first goal in 14 games.

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