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GDB 32.0: Oilers get back on the grind in San Jose (8:30pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
1 month ago
The Christmas break is over, it’s time to get back to work, and the Edmonton Oilers are on the road to take on the San Jose Sharks. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL odds with online sportsbook Betway.
I hope everyone is rested up after a lovely five-day Christmas break because it’s time to get back on the grind for a playoff push, and the back half of this 2023-24 season is going to be intense. Seven points out of a wildcard spot with games in hand, the only path forward for the Oilers is to keep winning games. As much as it was great to see the boys pull off wins against New Jersey and New York to send us into Christmas with good vibes, the reality of the Oilers’ situation is that they don’t have time for anything other than excellence. If the Oilers have a fever, then the only prescription is more wins. The good news is that the team is playing much more in line with the expectations we had for them before they found themselves in a crater-sized hole, and if anyone can string some wins together, it’s the McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers.
Standing in Edmonton’s way of a third straight victory is a San Jose team that has struggled mightily over the last month or so. With a 3-6-1 record over their last 10 games, the Sharks are bleeding goals like the point of the sport is to get wildly outscored, and that presents an obvious opportunity for an Oilers club that is starting to find its touch. Not to mention, the Oilers lost to San Jose back in early November in what had to be one of the most embarrassing losses of the year, and I could think of no better revenge than to repay the favour tonight at the SAP Center in front of the handful of fans that actually show up. And given that the Sharks played — and lost — last night against the Kings, the table is set for the Oilers to get back in the flow of things against a tired team provided that they themselves aren’t still working through a turkey coma.
In my biased opinion, this is a game the Oilers need to win. Even though we all know it’s not a literal must-win game, it has to be considered so in the spiritual sense. Given the hill they still have to climb, there’s no excuse for Edmonton to be giving up games against the worst team in their division. I know that wins are never guaranteed in the NHL — we obviously lost to San Jose already this season — but the Oilers have to find a way to secure two points in this rematch. Even though having 50 games left on the schedule may seem like a lot, climbing up the standings is tough with the Bettman loser point in play and that makes matchups against lowly teams like the Sharks incredibly important to capitalize on. So, even though this isn’t a ‘must-win’ situation, I think you would be hardpressed to find anyone that would accept a loss on a night like this one.
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSSHARKS
RECORD15-15-19-23-3
WIN/LOSS STREAKW2L6
LAST 10 GAMES7-3-03-6-1
GOALS FOR10874
GOALS AGAINST106145
POWER PLAY%26.219.6
PENALTY KILL%78.073.6
AVG. SHOTS/FOR34.225.7
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST28.435.9
TEAM SAVE%.899.899
CORSI FOR%55.6942.99
PDO0.9800.962
TEAM SHOOTING%8.156.35
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%57.8641.48
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers 

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Ryan – Janmark
Erne – Hamblin – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
In my humble opinion, there is no reason for the Oilers to lose this hockey game. They’re the better team, they have more skill, and the only thing that could stand in their way of collecting two points is themselves. If they play the way they did against New Jersey and New York then this should be a win, but if they think beating the Sharks will be easy, the table could easily get set for disaster.

Sharks ***UPDATED***

Eklund – Hertl – Zadina
Duclair – Granlund – Zetterlund
Bailey – Kunin – Hoffman
Labanc – Studnicka – MacDonald
Ferraro – Burroughs
Okhotyuk – Rutta
Vlasic – Thrun
Chrona
When I look at San Jose’s roster, I find myself asking if most of these players are actually real people. The problem with rebuilding clubs with no real expectations is that they play incredibly loose, and that can be dangerous if you’re sloppy with your puck choices. Basically what I’m saying here is that the Oilers can’t look at this game like it’s a lay-up or they’re going to get themselves in trouble, you know? Of course you do.
Edit: Magnus Chrona will get his first NHL start between the pipes with Blackwood unable to go. 

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers come back from the break with a big 4-2 win over the Sharks.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid leads by example with yet another multi-point game, kickstarting his evening with an early goal for the Oily Boys.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor Brown finally (FINALLY) picks up his first goal of the year after crashing the crease and finding a rebound that he hacks over the line.

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