GDB 34.0: A duck hunt to wrap up 2023 (6pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5 months ago
It wouldn’t be a New Year’s Eve without the Oilers wrapping up the year with one final matchup before the calendar flips. This time, the boys are at the Honda Center for a rematch with the Anaheim Ducks. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the game day of 2023.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL odds with online sportsbook Betway.
Time flies, doesn’t it? One year ago, the Edmonton Oilers were heading into the New Year’s Eve game against the Winnipeg Jets with a 20-15-2 record, riding a two-game win streak, and with Jay Woodcroft behind the bench. While it wasn’t the perfect start to the 2022-23 season, things were certainly looking up. As we wind down the final hours of 2023, it’s wild how much has changed in only 12 short months. Now, with a fresh coach behind the bench, the Oilers are still five points outside the playoff cutline but finally looking like the team we expected them to be. And while it may seem like a lot of time is left on the season, there’s so much work left to be done that I sometimes wonder if the boys can get it all done.
After last night’s win in Los Angeles, the Oilers will be looking to extend the winning streak to five games against an Anaheim Ducks team that they absolutely demolished back in late November at Rogers Place. The Ducks aren’t in the same league as the Oilers regarding skill or expectations, but I can promise that they’ll undoubtedly remember the ass-kicking they took just over a month ago. Losing 8-2 is embarrassing whether you’re rebuilding or not, and I’m guessing we’ll see a much tighter matchup here in round two. The point I’m getting at is that anyone who thinks this game will be a lay-up should expect more from the Ducks, given that they’ll be doing everything they possibly can to repay the favour. Put another way, let’s not pretend that the Oilers haven’t lost to garbage teams before, you know?
The good news is that the Anaheim Ducks are a far cry from the squads that used to steal our lunch money for years, and that means the Oilers should be able to get the job done despite playing last night in LA. I just think that the Ducks can’t come close to the Oilers’ skill level right now, and if they have any chance of winning this game it will be because Edmonton made too many costly mistakes, couldn’t get the saves they need, or they got goalie’d again. I know I’m biased when it comes to my belief in the boys winning hockey games, but this is one that they absolutely need to have given the sizeable to-do list that lies before them in terms of making the playoffs. It’s absolutely doable, but they’ve gotta win games like this one.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


LAST 10 GAMES7-3-03-7-0
POWER PLAY%25.920.9
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.829.1
TEAM SAVE%.903.910
CORSI FOR%55.5648.06
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Erne – Hamblin – Lavoie
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Seeing as the boys are playing in the second half of a back-to-back set, I don’t know that we’ll get any line combo updates until they get on the ice for warmup. Outside of giving Calvin Pickard the start and maybe a minor tweak or two depending on Evander Kane’s groin issue, I’d bet that Kris Knoblauch runs the same trios and d-pairings that worked yesterday in Los Angeles.


Killorn – Zegras – Terry
Vatrano – McTavish – Strome
Jones – Henrique – Leason
Johnston – Garrick – Silfverberg
Vaakanainen – Fowler
Mintyukov – Lyubushkin
Lacombe – Drysdale
The Anaheim Ducks are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games and have given up 29 goals over that stretch compared to the 18 they’ve scored, and it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that’s a ratio that won’t win you many games. That said, two of the wins the Ducks picked up were against the Devils and Golden Knights, so we shouldn’t pretend like they’re unable to beat good teams from time to time. It’s a good reminder that there are no easy games in the NHL, and if the Oilers are planning to extend their winning streak then they’ll need to play to their potential because the Ducks aren’t going to give them anything.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: While the Oilers may not put eight goals up on the board as they did back in November, they do manage to leave Anaheim with a 4-2 win on the books.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid multi-point game anyone? Yeah, it’s coming.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor Brown scores his first goal as an Oiler, and this time I really mean it.

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