GDB 55.0: Oilers Need Home Ice Advantage (7:30 PM MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
There are very few buildings in the NHL as loud as Rogers Place in Edmonton during the playoffs. It can be a huge advantage to have 18,500 raucous fans cheering on every play. It is a wonderful atmosphere, and it’s too bad the team and fans don’t do more in the regular season to make it an intimidating building. But if Edmonton wants home ice advantage, for at least the first round, they need to start winning regularly on home ice.
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Last season the Oilers were a league-best 16-2-1 in 19 home games after Jay Woodcroft was hired. They had an .868 points%. Next closest was Colorado at .765. The Oilers’ dominant stretch run pushed them into second place and gave them home ice advantage in the first round, and they shut out the Kings 2-0 in game seven. They controlled the game from start to finish and the crowd was deafening.
Edmonton is 13-11-3 at home this year. Not good enough.
They are 4-0-2 in their last six games, which is a step in the right direction, but now they must ensure their strong play on home ice continues. The improved record began with the Oilers’ improved defensive play. They allowed 2.66 goals/game in the recent undefeated streak, after allowing 3.42 goals/game in their first 21 home games. It is very difficult to win regularly when you give up that many goals.
Their offence hasn’t been an issue all season on home ice, and it would be a surprise if they suddenly struggled in that department, so if they can continue to be sound defensively they should continue to accumulate wins on home ice.
“You have to win at home and we know that,” said captain Connor McDavid. “We haven’t been good enough at home all season long. I feel we have been gaining a little bit of momentum at home… really just focusing on our game when we are here. We have put a few together in a row lately and have to do it again tonight.”
The Oilers are aware of the advantages of having game seven at home. They’ve shown in the past they can be a dominant home team, and they need to do it again over their final 14 home games. They host Detroit, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Boston this month, then Toronto, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Dallas, San Jose, Arizona, Vegas, LA, Anaheim, and San Jose.
Every game is important, but the games v. LA, Vegas, Dallas, and Winnipeg carry more weight due to the race in the Pacific Division and Western Conference. The Oilers are in a very close race in the Pacific (three points separate the top four teams), and they are six points behind Dallas for first in the conference with a game in hand.
It has been a long time since the Oilers were involved in such close races for the top spots in the division and conference. The Oilers, like every other team in the race, won’t win all their games, but the angst, anticipation, and excitement will be heightened down the stretch.
Will we see that heightened emotion from the crowd as well? You should, because the players have spoken often about how much the fans give them energy. If you are going to games down the stretch, I sense you will feel the tension and excitement a bit more, which makes watching more enjoyable, and the decibel level will slowly start to rise.
On an unrelated note, today would have been Chris Farley’s 59th birthday. If you need a laugh, watch one of, if not the greatest, SNL skits of all time. Farley was so good.




Holloway – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Foegele – RNH – Janmark
McLeod – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Barrie
Broberg – Bouchard
Again, these are just projections on who will play. Klim Kostin could draw back in after missing Sunday’s game with an injury. Jay Woodcroft has used many different line combinations the past few games and I expect that will continue to tonight with 11 forwards and seven D-men dressed.
Jack Campbell will look to win his 10th consecutive start and his eighth game overall. Due to the NHL’s dumb rule, Campbell was given the loss in LA when Stuart Skinner was pulled with Edmonton trailing 3-1. Campbell came in, and the Oilers never tied the game, but because they scored a third goal and lost 6-3, he was given the loss. The NHL needs to adopt a baseball rule. A reliever only gets tagged with the loss if his team comes back to tie the game with him in the game, and then he gives up a go-ahead run, or in NHL’s case go-ahead goal. Dumb rule.

Red Wings

It is too bad defenceman Jake Walman is injured. I think he could be in play at the deadline, and it would have been nice to watch him live. He’s had a solid season in Detroit and he is a pending UFA and his $1.05m cap hit makes him very easy to fit under the cap. He is a solid left-pairing D. He’s averaged 18:56/game for the Wings. I could see numerous teams having an interest in him.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers continue their recent solid play on home ice and pick up a 4-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl reaches the 80-point plateau for the fifth consecutive season.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The chippiness from last Tuesday’s contest carries over, which rarely happens in the NHL. We see another scrap, this time Dylan Holloway.

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