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GDB 12.0: Just Win (8:30pm MT, SNW)

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Jason Gregor
3 months ago
It could be ugly, deserved, pretty or totally undeserved — at this point the Oilers just need a victory, regardless of how it looks.
The Oilers have lost three in a row and seven of their last eight games.
Just win. In any fashion possible.
I’m certain Jay Woodcroft, and the players, would like a sound defensive game where they capitalize on their offensive chances and Stuart Skinner makes quality stops when needed. That would be nice, but is it realistic to believe all three can happen in the same game? That has happened once this season, against Calgary. In their victory over Nashville the Predators had 43 shots — the Oilers weren’t sound defensively.
Maybe a visit to the Shark Tank will cure the Oilers’ woes. There isn’t a more inviting arena in the NHL to play in right now.
The Sharks are 1-5-1 on home ice and have been outscored 35-11 and outshot 269-163. Only San Jose has had a worse start than the Oilers. If you think Edmonton’s start is bad, then the Sharks’ is awful.
But they won their last game and enter tonight’s tilt feeling a bit better about themselves. They got blown out 10-1 and 10-2 in their previous two home games, so you knew they’d put forth a better effort v. the Flyers two nights ago. MacKenzie Blackwood was outstanding, stopping 38 of 39 shots in the win.
Oilers fans have seen that script a few too many times this season. Edmonton has lost five games when they had 35, 40, 40, 43 and 49 shots. The Oilers are creating a good number of high dangers chances — they sit fifth in the NHL — but they aren’t finishing. The odds suggest the goals will come, but the players can’t just expect them to. They are in a finishing funk and now they need to work harder than ever to get out of it. There is no excuse for not generating chances tonight. The Sharks are the worst defensive team in the NHL in almost every category.
 
I have received SportLogiq stats for four seasons. I’ve never seen a team, even after one or two games, rank dead last in so many categories defensively and offensively. The Oilers can’t, and shouldn’t, take San Jose lightly. If there was ever a time for some players to break out of their funks, tonight is the night. But they need to work.
The Sharks dump and chase a lot, and that is why they are 13th in forecheck chances. They don’t possess the puck very much, and the Oilers’ blueliners need to make quick passes to beat the forecheck. I’m curious to see if the Sharks will try to possess the puck more, especially off the rush, where Edmonton has noticeably struggled defending.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

McLeod – McDavid – Hyman
Holloway – Draisaitl– Foegele
Kane – RNH – Gagner
Lavoie – Hamblin – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Woodcroft is sticking with the lines he created in Vancouver. The McDavid trio outshot Vancouver 9-5, while Draisaitl’s line outshot them 8-4, but got outscored 2-1. One goal against was due to the Evan Bouchard pinch, and the other off a 3-on-3 rush that left Puis Suter wide open. They weren’t overwhelmed defensively, and I liked their forecheck and aggressive nature in Vancouver. San Jose doesn’t have a line that can match the speed of Holloway and Foegele — if they use it.

Sharks…

Eklund – Hertl – Zetterlund
Labanc – Granlund – Duclair
Hoffman – Sturm – Zadina
Smith – Carpenter – Kunin
Ferraro – Addison
Vlasic – Burroughs
Okhotiuk – Rutta
Blackwood
Calen Addison will be the 11th D-man to play for the Sharks this season, in only their 13th game. He will improve their puck moving, but he’s not great defensively. Edmonton has a clear advantage in natural skill. They need to show it.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: For my sanity and your eyes, the Oilers win and end their three-game losing streak.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton improves to 3-0 when they score five goals. Also, many Nation readers are thinking a win would be good but seeing the Lahey/Costanza might be better. Screw you, you bastards. (If it didn’t involve me, I’d be rooting for a loss as well.)
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan McLeod and Dylan Holloway score their first goals of the year.

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