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GDB 65.0: Expect Excitement (5:30pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
21 days ago
Goals are the most exciting part of hockey, and by that metric the Buffalo Sabres are the most exciting team in the NHL. Their games average a league-high 7.3 total goals/game. The Edmonton Oilers sit third with 7.19 total goals/game. We should see some offensive fireworks tonight.
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The Oilers are the best offensive team in the NHL with 3.88 goals/game. The Sabres are third at 3.74. They both score a lot, but they’ve also allowed many goals. Edmonton ranks 21st in goals allowed/game at 3.31, while Buffalo ranks 25th at 3.56.
Exciting doesn’t always mean effective. Both teams would like to reduce their goals against, but their best asset is offence and I expect we will see many shots and scoring chances tonight. In their first meeting of the season, the Oilers outshot Buffalo 48-24, but lost 4-2 when Alex Tuch scored an empty net goal in the final minute. Eric Comrie was excellent in goal for the Sabres. Buffalo has allowed 40+ shots in 15 games this season, which is tied for third-most with Pittsburgh. Only Anaheim (a ridiculous 33 times) and Arizona (17) have had more games where their goalie got peppered. Edmonton is eighth with 10 games of 40+ shots allowed.

OFFENCE GALORE…

Creating offence is how these teams thrive.
The Oilers are first in offensive zone possession time and the Sabres are second. Buffalo is first in scoring chances off the rush and the Oilers are second. It is interesting to note the Oilers are first in quality chances, while the Sabres are 20th. Edmonton is first in inner slot shots and second in slot shots, while Buffalo is 23rd in inner slot shots and 10th in slot shots. The Sabres create their offence from further out. The Oilers need to be aware of that.
Not only are the Oilers first in goals/GP, but they are also first in games with 4+ goals (36) and 5+ goals (25). They are 30-3-3 in those games, but the problem is five of those losses have come in their previous 10 games. Jack Campbell started all five and went 0-2-3, and that is why Stuart Skinner is starting tonight.
The Oilers have scored 4+ goals in nine of their past 10 games. Every forward in the lineup tonight, except Ryan McLeod, has at least one goal in past 10 games. All the lines are contributing.
Meanwhile, the Sabres are one of nine teams who have scored 4+ goals at least 31 times.
Edmonton: 36
Tampa Bay: 34
Dallas and Boston: 33
Buffalo, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Seattle: 31
The Sabres have 41 goals in their past 10 games, but they’ve allowed four or more in six of them. They are 1-5 in those games.
This game screams “over even” with a line of 7.5, and the outcome will likely be determined by which team can play decent, not even great, defensively.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

McLeod – McDavid – Hyman
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – Bjugstad – Janmark
Kostin – Shore – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Edmonton will dress 12 forwards and six D-men for the first time since January 9th when they lost 6-3 to LA. They lost to Seattle (January 3rd) and Winnipeg (December 31st) with six D-men (Bouchard, Ceci, Barrie, Nurse, Kulak and Broberg) in all three loses. The last time they won with six D-men dressed was December 30th v. Seattle when they had Bouchard, Ceci, Barrie, Nurse, Kulak and Niemelainen. Tonight will be the first time Vincent Desharnais will dress when the Oilers go with six defenders.

Sabres…

Skinner – Thompson – Quinn
Mittelstadt – Cozens – Hinostroza
Peterka – Krebs – Olofsson
Greenway – Girgensons – Okposo
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Power – Lyubushkin
Bryson – Clague
Anderson
The Sabres will be without their third-leading scorer Alex Tuch who has 28 goals and 62 points. They are also missing second pair left D-man Mattias Samuelsson. The Sabres have a very young blue line and I expect McDavid and Draisaitl to create a lot of offence tonight.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton wins for only the second time in their last six visits to Buffalo, by a score of 5-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl and Tage Thompson each score a power play goal.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid picks up his first three-point game of his career v. the Sabres. Buffalo, Detroit and St. Louis are the only teams McDavid hasn’t lit up for three points in a game. That ends tonight. He’s had five two-point games against all three organizations. This will be his 103rd three-point game of his career.

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