GDB 76.0: Playoff Feel Without the Playoff Series (7pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
7 months ago
Zach Hyman is a fan favourite for many reasons, and the respect grew because he didn’t try to downplay tonight’s game and suggest it is just another game. “It is as exciting of a regular game as you can be in,” said Hyman. “We have seven games remaining, two against LA and we are one point back of them. There is a lot at stake and that makes it fun.”
Damn straight.
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The excitement grows when you add in how well both teams are playing. LA has the best points% in the NHL in March and Edmonton is second. LA defeated Edmonton 6-3 on January 11th. The Oilers’ penalty kill was brutal early on allowing four goals in the first 30 minutes and the Oilers never recovered, but they didn’t go down without a fight. Jesse Phillip Danault went after Jesse Puljujarvi after he hit Viktor Arvidsson. Zach Hyman hammered Quinton Byfield with a hard, clean hit and later on Sean Durzi asked him to fight. Late in the game Klim Kostin and Brendan Lemieux dropped the gloves. It was an emotional loss for the Oilers, but they’ve played very well since.
The Oilers were 22-18-3 after the loss and had the 19th best P% in the NHL. But since that loss in LA, the Oilers are tied with Boston for the best P% in the NHL at .750. The Oilers are 21-5-6 since losing to the Kings and have scored almost one goal more/game than every team in the NHL.
The Oilers have averaged 4.67 GF/GP since January 12th and only Florida (3.67), Colorado (3.66 and LA (3.62) are within 1.00 GF/GP. Edmonton’s offence has won them games. They’d like to lower their GA, but unless teams can suddenly limit their offence the Oilers are a very difficult opponent.
The LA Kings have been unreal defensively in March. They’ve only allowed 13 goals 5×5, but their penalty kill has struggled allowing 10 goals. They have allowed 13 goals in 575 minutes of 5×5, and 10 goals in 56:53 of PK time. Please stop saying special teams don’t matter.
The Oilers’ power play has been the best in the NHL all season, and right now they are the best in NHL history at 32.7%. In their last four games, the PP has been red hot, scoring eight goals on 13 opportunities (61.5%). The Kings’ PK is struggling, and I’d bet Connor McDavid’s salary the Oilers’ PP won’t get shutout tonight if they get at least three opportunities.


LA, like every team, has a game plan to try and limit the Oilers’ offence, but it is easier said than done. Most have failed since January 12th. Here are their GF totals over the last 32 games.
Seven goals: 4x
Six goals: 4x
Five goals: 9x
Four goals: 8x
They have scored 4+ goals in 25 of 32 games (78.1%).
Three goals: 3x
Two goals: 3x
One goal: 1x
In 87.5% of their games they’ve scored at least three goals. Could LA shut them down? Possibly, but the odds aren’t in their favour. Edmonton needs to play to its strength, and reduce the glaring errors/giveaways.
“There are no surprises between us,” said Connor McDavid. “Their head coach (Todd McLellan) was here for a while. Their defence coach (Trent Yawney) was as well. Obviously, this is a big one for us tonight. They are playing well, and so are we. I expect a good one.”


Jan 9, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault (24) fights Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) during the second period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Gone are the days when the Oilers get pushed around in games. For far too long the Oilers got pushed out of games. They didn’t have enough skilled players who were willing, and capable, of pushing back physically. That isn’t the case anymore. They are one of if not the biggest teams in the NHL now with the additions of Klim Kostin, Vincent Desharnais, Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad.
Their skilled players are big and aren’t afraid to engage. Darnell Nurse, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl can play heavy games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Brett Kulak can handle themselves if you want to drop the gloves.
The loss in LA earlier this season wasn’t a great game by the Oilers, but the Oilers’ physicality led to the Kings going after them. The Oilers can initiate now, rather than just react. They aren’t intimidated or uncomfortable in emotional games I’d argue they are better when the emotion ramps up.
This isn’t a playoff game, but with so much on the line between two teams who respect, but don’t like each other, this game looks to be highly entertaining.
Let’s hope it lives up to the hype.




Kane – McDavid – Yamamoto
RNH – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – Bjugstad – Janmark
Kostin – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Ryan McLeod skated in a normal jersey today, but he’s had a slight setback and won’t play tonight. Last Friday he was hoping to return tonight, but that has been pushed back a few games. It looks like the same lineup as Tuesday and Devin Shore will remain in the press box.


Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Fiala – Danault – Arvidsson
Moore – Lizotte – Iafallo
Grundstrom – Kupari – Kaliyev
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Edler – Durzi
**updated with Korpisalo starting.**
Pheonix Copley and Joonas Korpisalo have rotated starts all month, but that won’t continue tonight. Copley has allowed 2, 2, 1, 1, 2 and 6 six goals in last six starts. He hasn’t faced many shots, only 143 in six games (23.8/game) so his .902Sv% doesn’t match his 2.31 GAA. Overall he has played well, but Todd McLellan will give Korpisalo the start tonight. Interesting.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers keep their home ice advantage hopes alive with a 4-3 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Connor McDavid becomes the first player in NHL history to have five different 10-game point streaks in the same season.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Evan Bouchard scores. It is the first time in his career he’s scored a goal in three consecutive games.

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