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GDB 73.0: Oilers Trying to Find Their Grip on the Road (7:00pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
16 days ago
Stanley Cup champions win on the road.
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Edmonton has been a good road team since Kris Knoblauch arrived. They are 18-10-1, but they are 2-3-1 in their last six road games. Losses in Ottawa, Toronto, Columbus and a shootout loss in Buffalo are a good reminder the Oilers need to be sharper on the road in April.
The last three Stanley Cup champions were a combined 23-8 on the road. If you want to win the Cup, you need to play well away from home.
The Oilers can play well on the road. Their last road game in Winnipeg was one of their best of the season. They were physical. They were poised. Stuart Skinner was sharp, and the Oilers got timely scoring throughout their lineup. That is the recipe for playoff success and with road games in St. Louis, Dallas, Calgary, Arizona and Colorado this month, the Oilers need to enter the playoffs confident in how they play on the road.
They’ve become one of the most dominant home teams in the NHL. They are 24-4-2 since Knoblauch arrived. They are crushing teams and are averaging almost two more goals scored per game. They’ve produced 4.37 goals/game and allowed only 2.47. They were solid on the road, before the recent four hiccups, and tonight against the golf-course-bound St. Louis Blues, the Oilers need a mature performance.
The Blues should come out with some fire. They were embarrassed at home on Saturday, losing to the lowly San Jose Sharks. Not only did they lose, but they were shutout 4-0 on home ice. They had a brutal second period getting outshot 12-3 and outscored 3-0 by the worst team in the NHL. They dominated the third period outshooting San Jose 21-5, but they couldn’t score on MacKenzie Blackwood. Head coach Drew Bannister wasn’t impressed, and if his players want him to be their head coach next season (he still has the interim tag) then they will need better efforts in April.
Meanwhile, the Oilers skate into St. Louis riding a three-game winning streak. They played very well in Winnipeg, and continued their sound play in victories over Los Angeles and Anaheim. The Oilers know they are good, and when they get rolling, we’ve seen them go on long winning streaks of 16, eight and five games. They also have shown an ability to remember bad performances and avenge them. The Oilers had a dreadful second period in St. Louis on February 15th, when they allowed four goals on their way to a 6-3 loss. They seem to have a bit of the Michael Jordan “And I took that personally” mentality lately and it has helped them.

GAME DAY ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Henrique – Draisaitl – Perry
Kane – McLeod – Foegele
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
The lines aren’t confirmed as the Oilers didn’t run lines in the morning skate, but Corey Perry was wearing a white jersey (top-six forward), while Warren Foegele was in blue (bottom six). Knoblauch likes experimenting with lines, but also playing Foegele and McLeod together again is a good idea. I don’t think the line combinations matter that much. We see different combinations during the game, regardless.
Brett Kulak looks no worse for wear after leaving Saturday’s game early after getting hit with the puck. The Oilers could have played with four defenceman and won that game easily, so there was no need to rush Kulak back in the game.
Mattias Ekholm led all NHL defenceman with 14 even strength points in March. Evan Bouchard was third with 11, and Bouchard led all defenders in total points with 19.

Blues

Saad – Thomas – Neighbours
Toropchenko – Buchnevich – Kyrou
Hayes – Schenn – Kapanen
Blais – Dean – Walker
Leddy – Parayko
Krug – Faulk
Scandella – Tucker
Binnington
Jake Neighbours and Pavel Buchnevich lead the Blues with 26 goals. Only San Jose (20), Chicago (21) and Columbus (22) have a leading goal-scorer with fewer goals. Neighbours is having a breakout season for the Blues, and they do have five players with 23-26 goals, but on the season, they rank 26th in goals/game at 2.82. Their forwards rank 20th in goals among forwards, while the D-men are 29th. Offense has been an issue in St. Louis all season.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICITION: Oilers extend their winning streak to four games with a 4-3 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Leon Draisaitl scores his 20th PP goal of the season, and he becomes the 6th player in league history to have three consecutive seasons with 20+ PP goals. Brett Hull had five in a row, while Dave Andreychuk, Tim Kerr, Jeremy Roenick and Luc Robitaille all had three consecutive seasons with 20+ PP goals.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kane ends his goal drought at 19 games. He scores his first goal since February 19th.

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