GDB 52.0: Make it two in a row for the #NationVacation (2pm MT, SN1)

Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
After months of waiting for this trip to happen, we’ve finally made our way down to Tempe for the Edmonton Oilers’ first game of the season at Mullett Arena, the tiny little home of the Arizona Coyotes.
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I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I’ve been for this #NationVacation to Arizona to watch the Oilers play in this wee barn. In no circumstance should I ever be able to watch the Edmonton Oilers play in a building that only holds 4500 people, but that’s where I’m going today, and I could not be more fired up about it.
I don’t know how this team is still here at this point — I legitimately think this whole situation blows for Coyotes fans who keep getting jerked around during the process — but the fact that I had the opportunity to come down here and watch the boys in that environment was too good to pass up. Based on what we’re hearing, there are going to be a lot of us down here too.
With our crew of 50 of us set to take over a section at Mullett Arena, I don’t know that I’ve been this fired up for game day experience since the playoffs. And when you combine the strong vibes from our group and the other Oilers fans that are here with the opportunity for a solid day session at the hockey game, you’ve got the ingredients for a tasty little holiday Monday.
Standing in our way of turning what is already a great time into a fever dream is a Coyotes team that carries a 1-8-1 record over its last 10 games and a 15-12-10 record at home overall. This wee barn they play in has historically been tough on the opposition, and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the Oilers haven’t exactly been shooting the lights out since the all-star break.
If we’re going to celebrate a win before disappearing into the Arizona afternoon, the Oilers need to be ready to go at both ends of the rink. The Coyotes score 2.91 goals per game while giving up 3.19, and so the last thing any of us should expect is a casual stroll through campus. Get it? The Coyotes are guests in a college rink, and we’re also down here for the game? Bah.
The point I’m trying to make is that the Oilers will need to give a full 60 minutes to beat the Coyotes even though they’re not the strongest opponent, and anything less than that probably means we’re leaving tiny barn with sad faces. Over the course of a season, there are games that you can probably coast through and still win, but I highly doubt that this will be one of those afternoons.
If anything, I’m expecting a close game that ultimately comes down to who gets the extra save or makes the fewest mistakes. From an Edmonton perspective, the biggest to-do the boys can possibly have is to find a way to get the puck in the net, which has been a battle over this mini funk(???) they’ve been in.
Over the last five games, the Oilers have allowed 20 goals against, and seeing that they’re giving up four per game is one of those stats that feels truly puzzling after watching them be so dialled in for basically two months. I wish I had the answer for what the fix is here, but the only thing I can think of is that everyone needs to slow down and get back to basics.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


LAST 10 GAMES7-3-01-8-1
POWER PLAY%26.521.2
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.526.8
TEAM SAVE%.912.912
CORSI FOR%55.4547.82
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Draisaitl – McDavid – Perry
Kane – Nugent-Hopkins – Hyman
Janmark – McLeod – Foegele
Gagner – Holloway-Ryan
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
The Oilers have the opportunity to start a new win streak today in Arizona, and the Oilers have a very good chance of making that happen provided that they can keep the details of their game in check. Over the last couple of weeks, the boys have gotten a little bit loose with the puck, and the result has been goals against that were completely avoidable. Against the Coyotes, they’re going to need to keep that stuff dialled in or else this scrappy Arizona team will make them pay for it, and I say that fully knowing that they played yesterday.


Keller – Hayton – Schmaltz
Maccelli – Bjugstad – Crouse
Cooley – McBain – Guenther
Zucker – Kerfoot – Carcone
Moser – Durzi
Dermott – Dumba
Valimaki – Kesselring
The Coyotes played and lost yesterday against the Colorado Avalanche, and that tells me the Oilers have to jump on them early. Don’t even let these dummies settle in. Push the pace from the moment the puck drops, force turnovers, and make life difficult for the Arizona backup who really doesn’t seem to be that great, though, I fully understand how saying that feels like a trap. Either way, the Oilers should have the juice to win this game if they play their game, and since there are so many Oilers fans in attendance, I’m hopeful it will happen.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The desert dogs are no match for our Oily Boyz, and the visitors cruise to a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid picks up yet another multi-assist game, and we’re all so used to him doing it at this point that it barely registers anymore.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: I will make Tyler Yaremchuk buy me no less than two beers at the hockey game. I will pay him back at some point today, but for at least a few hours, Tyler will think I scammed him out of $25 USD. Oh, and Connor Brown scores a goal. I really, really mean it this time.

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