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GDB 18.0: Stop the Bleeding (5pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
Stopping a losing streak in Carolina will be extremely challenging, but the Oilers desperately need a win. They have five games remaining before they have a five-day break between December 1st to 5th, and at the very least they need to go 2-2-1, and preferably 3-2 or better. Edmonton is in the unenviable position of playing catchup early in the season, and that means they must minimize the length of losing streaks.
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Last week they won three in a row, but after losses to Tampa and Florida, they are suddenly trying to avoid another lengthy losing skid. They simply can’t afford many more or their playoff hopes will be done before Santa Claus arrives.
There is no easy fix, because very few elements of their game are going well right now.
The best has been their 5×5 scoring. They have 11 goals in their past five games at 5×5, which is tied for sixth most. Eight different skaters have scored 5×5, which is a positive.
But the other areas of their game need improvement.
They are 13th in GA/game at 3.20. They were able to control weak offensive teams in Seattle and NYI but allowed nine goals (plus two empty net goals) to Tampa and Florida. Their defensive game must improve.
Their power play is only 17.7%. And much of that is due to the second unit. The top unit is struggling mightily. They’ve been more of a momentum sponge than momentum builder lately. The Oilers have to hope that one goal from the first unit will ignite it similar to how Connor McDavid found an extra gear after scoring in Florida. He resembled his usually dangerous self after that goal.
And their slot coverage must improve. They rank 31st in slot shots allowed and many occur off the rush. They have to tighten up in both areas to have any hope of winning.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Foegele – McDavid – Draisaitl
Kane – RNH – Hyman
Janmark – McLeod – Ryan
Erne – Hamblin – Brown
Nurse – Kulak
Ekholm – Bouchard
Broberg – Ceci
Skinner
Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey have shuffled their defence pairs. Brett Kulak will move up and play the right side, so Philip Broberg can play his natural left side. The odd decision is moving Ceci down. He has been their most consistent defender all season. Maybe they didn’t want to change all three pairs without any practice time, so they kept Bouchard with Ekholm, because I’d rather slot Evan Bouchard on the third pair and lower his quality of competition. He and Broberg, albeit in a small sample size, had success together last season. I’d be fine with them as a third pairing. I’d have kept Ceci with Nurse and played Kulak with Ekholm, but maybe there is something going on I’m not aware of. It just seems odd to play your most consistent defender in the third pair.
I will be monitoring the TOI, because if Ceci’s icetime isn’t reduced much, then it is less of an issue for me.
Mattias Janmark returns to the lineup after being injured on October 26th v. the Rangers. He’s missed the past 10 games. If the Oilers dress 11-7, then Adam Erne likely comes out for Janmark. If they go 12-6, then Desharnais comes out. We’ll update the lineup once we know for sure who will dress.
The above projected lineup leaves many open-ended questions.
Why is Ceci on the third pairing, when he’s been the most consistent defender?
Brown on the fourth line? Why did they dress him in his 10th game then to collect his $3.25m bonus?
Foegele and McLeod already split up after Knoblauch said he wanted them to gain chemistry.
Maybe the changes will work, but seems like there are more questions than answers right now.

Hurricanes

Teravainen – Aho – Jarvis
Svechnikov – Kotkaniemi – Necas
Martinook – Staal – Fast
Bunting – Drury – Noesen
Slavin – Burns
Skjei – Pesce
Orlov – Chatfield
Raanta
Hurricanes have found their groove defensively allowing only 21 goals in their past 10 games. This is a very tough matchup for the Oilers. The Hurricanes are one of the most systemically disciplined teams in the NHL. They rarely give you anything. The Oilers will have to work extremely hard to create chances, and if they get a lead, they need to play smart, because the Canes will come at them in waves.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Carolina has been a bad matchup for years for the Oilers. It continues tonight as Edmonton loses 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid found his mojo in Florida and scores for a second consecutive game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers’ first unit PP scores a goal.

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