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GDB 13.0: Take Advantage of Weakened Opponent (6pm MT, Sportsnet)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
14 days ago
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The Washington Capitals roster will have four players — maybe three if Dmitri Orlov can’t play — from their 2018 Cup winning team in the lineup tonight. Injuries have decimated the Capitals’ lineup and Edmonton needs to break the spirit of the remaining pieces of their injury-riddle carcass.
Nicklas Backstrom hasn’t played a game this season, and he might never play again due to a hip injury — Ryan Kesler and Brent Seabrook never returned to the NHL after having the same surgery.
Tom Wilson is recovering from ACL surgery and has yet to play a game. Carl Hagelin hasn’t either as he deals with hip and eye injuries. TJ Oshie played nine games and is now out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Connor Brown is out for the season after tearing his ACL in game four. John Carlson will miss his fifth consecutive game tonight and Dmitry Orlov left Saturday’s game with an injury, and he is a game-time decision. Orlov finished the first period, but he didn’t play in the final 40 minutes and missed yesterday’s practice. Reports out of Washington seem to imply it’s unlikely he plays.
Backstrom, Wilson, Oshie, Carlson and Orlov would be five of the Capitals’ top-eight players including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Darcy Kuemper. I don’t know many teams that can win regularly without five of their top eight players, and since losing Carlson the Capitals are 0-2-2 including a 3-2 loss to lowly Arizona on Saturday. They are ripe for a thrashing and the Oilers need to smell blood and attack their wounded opponent.
Edmonton hasn’t had much success in Washington historically, or recently. Edmonton is 12-23-2-2 all-time and 1-3-1 in the Connor McDavid era. But that is in the past, and right now in the present, Edmonton has a much more skilled and deeper roster. They need to win this game and end their two-game losing skid.

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LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Kane – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Shore – Holloway – Yamamoto
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard
Murray – Barrie
Skinner
Jay Woodcroft tried some new lines at practice yesterday and will start with them tonight. You could make a strong argument that Derek Ryan has outplayed Kailer Yamamoto and Jesse Puljujarvi recently, and if it was just based on merit and play on the ice he’d be the one on McDavid’s wing. But I understand why he isn’t. He isn’t a top-six forward, so Puljujarvi gets a shot to hopefully contribute more. My concern with Puljujarvi is the same as it has been for years: I don’t think he has the puck skills to be a productive top-six forward, and I don’t buy the theory floated by some that he is great defensively. He’s good at creating turnovers, so that should help McDavid, but Puljujarvi struggles to finish. But right now, so is Yamamoto, so I understand the switch.
Woodcroft is hopeful the line juggling will help Yamamoto and Puljujarvi. Devin Shore and Dylan Holloway have played quite well lately, and Yamamoto will face lesser competition so he might get a few more looks.
However, scoring goals isn’t the Oilers problem — preventing them is. They are 24th in goals against/game at 3.50. Not good enough, and it isn’t accurate to put all the blame on Jack Campbell. He hasn’t played well — he called his play “pathetic” to this point — but it isn’t just him.
The Oilers are 24th in shots allowed, 22nd in shots from the slot, 25th in passes to the slot, 26th in rush chances allowed and 26th in quality chances. That is more than just Campbell.
Edmonton is near the top in most offensive categories, but the best they are in any defensive category is 13th (Ozone possession and rebound chances).
McDavid will skate in his 500th career game tonight. He will be sixth in most points through 500 games trailing Wayne Gretzky (1186), Mario Lemieux (971), Peter Stastny (759), Mike Bossy (757) and Jari Kurri (730). McDavid enters tonight with 722 points. Sidney Crosby scored 706 in his first 500 games and Alex Ovechkin produced 633.
Here are McDavid’s point totals for each segment of 100 games played.
Game 1-100 he produced 34-74-108.
Games 101-200: 46-84-130.
Games 201-300: 54-102-156.
Games 301-400: 57-105-162.
Games 401-499: 60-106-166.
He continues to produce more in each 100-game stretch, and I think he is just hitting his prime.

Capitals…

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Sheary
Milano – D. Strome – Johansson
McMichael – Eller – Mantha
Aube-Kubel – Dowd – Hathaway
*Orlov- van Riemsdyk
Fehervary – Jensen
Gustafsson – Irwin
Lindgren
If Orlov can’t go then Gustafsson will play with van Riemsdyk, and the Capitals will insert Lucas Johansen on the third pairing. Darcy Kuemper has played the most minutes of any goalie in the NHL thus far, logging 595 minutes in his 10 starts. He’s played very well posting a .919Sv% and 2.42 GAA. Their backup, Charlie Lindgren has an identical .919Sv% along with a 3.03 GAA in his three starts. Goaltending hasn’t been an issue in Washington.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers improve to 4-0 on the road with a 5-2 victory.
OBVIOUS-GAME-DAY PREDICTION: Evander Kane loves playing Washington. He picks up his 22nd career goal v. the Capitals.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Washington becomes the 22nd team McDavid has scored at least two goals against in one game. It is the 41st multi-goal game of his career.

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