GDB 62.0: Oilers breakfast battle versus the Buffalo Sabres (10:30am MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4 months ago
Are you wondering about the early game day preview? Well, it’s because the Oilers have a rare pair of morning starts this weekend, the first one kicking off at 10:30 this morning against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s strange and scary, but at least we’ve got some daytime sports to watch.
If I can be so bold as to complain for a minute, I want to know who the hell thought this 10:30 AM start was a good idea. It’s not like we’re going up against the Super Bowl or some major tentpole event in the world of sports, so I’m confused why anyone thought this was a good idea. I know Americans love their daytime sports, but this weekend’s schedule baffles me.
Now that I’ve aired my grievance months before Festivus let’s talk about the task at hand. From my side of the computer screen, I can’t help but think of how this year has been another major bummer for the Buffalo Sabres. They had some major expectations that they’d be able to make some noise going back to last offseason, and while they’ve made some, none of it has been very good.
Ahead of this morning’s game, the Sabres sit nine points out of a wildcard spot and ride out the stretch with no hope for the postseason for the 13th straight year. That sucks so bad. We know the Decade of Darkness all too well at this point, but they’re working on a second decade, and it’s a reign of sadness that legitimately blows my mind.
Despite the obvious talent on their roster, this franchise just cannot figure it out, and it’s a stunning run of horror at this point. Fans of that team could legitimately be angels because cheering for a squad that seemingly never has a chance at the postseason is the kind of punishment I wouldn’t wish on anybody. It takes a special type of person to love a team this bad, and I tip my cap to every Sabres fan who sticks it out through this mess.
Buffalo has a 5-4-1 record in its last 10 games and comes into this morning’s matchup the losers of its last three games. Over those three losses, the Sabres have been outscored 11-5 and have struggled mightily to keep the puck out of their net. Yet, just before this losing streak started, the Sabres beat the Vegas Golden Knights by a 7-2 score.
They’re the kind of team that is either boom or bust right now, and the Oilers will need to bring their A-game right from the opening draw if they plan to avoid a losing streak. Against Columbus, the Oilers gave up three goals in the opening frame, which was all of the offence the Blue Jackets needed to pick up the win. Needless to say, the boys need to be better.
During the Oilers’ five-game winning streak, the team gave up two goals or less in all five against. They gave up four — with the empty-netter — in Thursday’s loss to the Blue Jackets. The big problem was how the Oilers managed the puck early on, and those errors proved costly more often than not. Those are details Kris Knoblauch’s group will need to clean up this morning in Buffalo.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


LAST 10 GAMES6-3-15-4-1
POWER PLAY%26.716.5
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.431.3
TEAM SAVE%.912.913
CORSI FOR%55.5551.15
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Foegele
Kane – Henrique – Perry
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
We got some new line combinations yesterday at practice, and I’m a big fan at first glance. Putting Henrique at 3C with Kane and Perry gives the Oilers the potential to have three scoring lines, or at the very least, a veteran trio that will likely cause chaos. Knoblauch also reunited the trio of McLeod, Draisaitl, and Foegele, which worked well for a stretch during the Oilers’ 16-game win streak.


Robinson – Greenway – Tuch
Benson – Cozens – Peterka
Rousek – Krebs – Olofsson
Skinner – Girgensons – Johnson
Byram – Dahlin
Power – Jokiharju
Bryson – Clifton
The Buffalo Sabres made a handful of trades ahead of Friday’s deadline, including sending their captain, Kyle Okposo, to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Calle Sjalin and a 7th-round pick. They also moved Erik Johnson to the Flyers for a 4th-round pick. The Sabres made a much bigger splash on Wednesday when they moved Casey Mittelstadt to the Colorado Avalanche for Bowen Byram, bolstering their young defensive group that’s starting to come together.


From Buffalo Hockey Beat:
“And I’m disappointed that I’m talking about this right now because this isn’t where any of us wanted to be in terms of the standings at this time of year. Certainly, when he re-signed this summer, not what we were talking about, but that’s where we are and that’s part of how this game goes sometimes.”
Okposo said earlier this week he and Adams were on the same page as the deadline approached. He hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2016, his final season with the New York Islanders.
He fetched a minimal return. The Panthers sent the Sabres defense prospect Calle Sjalin, 24, and a seventh-round pick in 2024.
After falling one win shy of the playoffs last season, the Sabres have often struggled this year, compiling a 29-30-5 record entering Saturday afternoon’s home game against superstar Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
“They’re going to have an extremely bright future,” Okposo said of the Sabres.
Adams said he hasn’t spoken to coach Don Granato about filling the vacant captaincy. Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, 23, and winger Zemgus Girgensons, 30, are the Sabres’ alternate captains.
In Dahlin, center Dylan Cozens, 23, and others, Adams believes the Sabres have young leaders ready to step up.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers need points, and the Sabres are going to give them to us via a 4-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Two more assists for Connor McDavid? Book it.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Carrick picks up his first goal as an Edmonton Oiler, temporarily silencing the haters that

Check out these posts...