GDB 81.0: To be the best, you have to beat the best (7:30pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
If the Oilers are planning to catch Vegas in the Pacific Division standings then they’ll need to keep winning, but the task gets significantly more difficult heading into Colorado to face the defending champs. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day!
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway
With only two games left on the season, the Oilers’ playoff position locked up, and home-ice advantage all set for round one, I’m finding it hard to get too fired up about these final two meetings. Even though I know that the points are still meaningful — the Oilers have a real chance of not only winning the Pacific Division but also the Western Conference — I’m getting to the point where all I really care about is that everyone makes it through in one piece. As much as I’d love to pretend that I’m fired up to be facing the defending champs, the reality is that I’m having a hard time getting there because something more exciting is coming. All I can think about is the shenanigans that are set to come within the next week or so, and anything between now and then almost feels like a waste of time. That said, I know I could very well be alone on this one.
Outside of simply making it through the night in one piece, the Oilers will still want to win this game for not only the points in the standings but also to exorcise the demon that is their recent record versus the Avalanche. In the last nine games played against Colorado (playoffs included), the Oilers are 1-4-4 which includes the 6-5 and 3-2 losses from earlier this season. Needless to say, that’s the kind of ugly record that can cast a black cloud overhead if not dealt with sooner than later, and I’m sure the Oilers will be motivated to buck the trend. Besides, why wouldn’t you want to beat the champs in their home arena? Not only that, a win at Ball Arena would set a new franchise record with 27 road wins, breaking the one that’s been around since 1983-84. I’m not sure how much franchise records matter in the moment, but you have to admit, it would be pretty damned cool to see the Oilers raise the bar on a mark that was set in the Gretzky days.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


Last 10 Games9-0-18-2-0
POWER PLAY%32.525.1
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.533.4
TEAM SAVE%.914.927
CORSI FOR%52.1952.24
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins plays in game number 800 tonight. What a ride it’s been.




RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Kostin – Bjugstad – Janmark
Foegele – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Six periods left to go before the playoffs, I’m extremely curious to find out how Jay Woodcroft will distribute the minutes over these final two games. Against the Sharks on Saturday, the ice time was distributed quite evenly, and while I know that was probably a product of the score being so lopsided, I wonder if we’ll get the same approach regardless of what’s happening on the scoreboard. Obviously, the Oilers will do what they can to win out but I also wonder at what cost. Does it even matter? We’re only a few hours from finding out.


Rodrigues – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Malgin – Compher – Nichushkin
Newhook – Eller – Meyers
Nieto – Cogliano – O’Connor
Girard – Toews
Johnson – Johnson
MacDermid – Hunt
If ever there was a time when the Oilers should have an advantage over Colorado, it’s when the Avs’ blue line is banged up the way it is now. As Gregor noted in the Game Notes, Cale Makar is out indefinitely, Josh Manson has yet to be cleared for contact and Bowen Byram didn’t play over the weekend because of a lower-body injury, meaning they could be without three of their top six defenders. Now, I’m not saying that this is by any means a lock because of those absences — it also sounds like Byram will play — but what I would say is that the Oilers have to find a way to take advantage of the situation by making life difficult for those who are playing.


From Colorado Hockey Now:
With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in town, the Colorado Avalanche will get some much needed reinforcements on their blueline on Tuesday night.
Bowen Byram, who missed the final two games of the road trip due to illness, will return to the lineup for the Avalanche when they take on the Edmonton Oilers. With Byram coming back in, Kurtis MacDermid will exit the lineup.
Cale Makar joined the team for morning skate in a non-contact jersey, but will not play on Tuesday. Also joining the team for skate was Artturi Lehkonen, who has been out with a broken finger since March 13. He will not play, but things are encouraging on his end.
“He is,” Jared Bednar said, when asked if Lehkonen is getting closer to returning. “Big test today, so we’ll see how it (his finger) feels this afternoon.”
The Tuesday night matchup matters a lot to both teams, and on paper, looks like it should be a high-scoring affair. Between the teams, there are five players that have already surpassed the 100 point mark on the season. While the Avalanche are looking to stay atop the Central Division, the Oilers are trying to hunt down the Vegas Golden Knights for first-place in the Pacific.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers know the Pacific Division is in sight and that knowledge leads the boys to a big 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid scores his 65th goal of the season and Nathan MacKinnon follows it up with one of his own. These two seem to do that a lot.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers pick up their 18th shorthanded goal of the season after the Avs have a pass picked off at the opposing blue line.

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