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GDB 40.0: Keep the Streak Going (5pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
9 months ago
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, the Oilers are on a winning streak, I’m in Jasper for a pond hockey tournament, and I could not be more excited to get us all set for tonight’s dance with the Montreal Canadiens. Dear Internet friends, it’s game day!
I need to humblebrag for a minute here because I’m actually writing this GDB from my hotel room in Jasper between games at the Jasper Pond Hockey tournament, and I could not be more excited to spend the day outside and wrap things up with an Oilers game. Seeing as I hadn’t played in a while, I knew how painfully poor my performance would be and that’s why I’m going to purposely appreciate what I’m hoping will be a win when the boys hit the ice in Montreal. I mean, for as rough as the last month+ has been for the Oilers and the fanbase outside of this current streak, the Canadiens have sucked all year and that comes only months after going to the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s a kind of heartbreak that stings to the bones, and I’d love nothing more than for the Oilers to kick a struggling team while they’re down. Besides, even though the boys are on a three-game winning streak, I still think our confidence needs a boost and I can think of no better way to do that than piling up the wins, and this is a game they should win.
At 1-6-3 in their last 10 games, Montreal is as bad as it gets in the NHL and that presents the Oilers with an excellent opportunity to tack two more points on the board and keep taking advantage of the games they have in hand. That’s not to say that this game will be a gimme by any means, but I do think this is one of those nights where the Oilers have to do everything humanly possible to close out a win because this is one they need to have. If the boys are going to keep turning things around and erase some of the losses that piled up over the last six weeks, they can’t let games against bottom feeders slip away and that starts with not playing down to Montreal’s level. Again, this is a winnable game but they can’t just expect the Habs to roll over and die here either. If the Oilers want to turn their three-game streak into four, they’ll need to keep firing pucks from everywhere and working their forecheck in the offensive zone while also limiting Montreal’s ability to generate grade-A scoring chances. I know the Canadiens don’t score very much — their goal differential has been in the toilet all season — but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some weapons that can burn you if given the opportunity.
Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERSCANADIENS
RECORD21-16-28-27-16
WIN/LOSS STREAKW3L4
LAST 10 GAMES3-5-21-6-3
GOALS FOR12894
GOALS AGAINST130159
POWER PLAY%28.813.7
PENALTY KILL%77.872.6
AVG. SHOTS/FOR33.629.0
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST32.734.9
TEAM SAVE%.910.916
CORSI FOR%52.1046.87
PDO0.9880.983
TEAM SHOOTING%7.706.73
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%51.0944.93
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Kane – McDavid – Yamamoto
Foegele – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Hyman – RNH – Kassian
Shore – McLeod – Ryan
Nurse – Bouchard
Keith – Ceci
Lagesson – Russell
Skinner
Can I be honest and say that I really like the way the forward lines are looking with the three centres stacked up? Who knows how long this will stick, but I am certainly intrigued by the possibilities now that I see the trios on paper.

Canadiens

Toffoli – Suzuki – Lehkonen
Dauphin – Dvorak – Hoffman
Pitlick – Evans – Anderson
Pezzetta – Poehling – Paquette
Chiarot – Savard
Kulak – Petry
Romanov – Wideman
Primeau
As you can see in the Numbers section above, the Habs give up a tonne of goals without generating nearly as many at the other end. Obviously, that’s good news for the Oilers on paper but it will be up to them to limit what Montreal is able to produce while also limiting their own turnovers to eliminate any unearned at-bats.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Habs Eyes on the Prize:
After getting absolutely ran out of the United States altogether by the Minnesota Wild, the Montreal Canadiens finally saw home ice for the first time in what felt like forever. Taking on the Anaheim Ducks in an empty Bell Centre, the absence of a crowd shouldn’t have changed their desire to put forth a better effort than they did three nights prior.
Well, they fared far better than they did in Minnesota, I’ll give them that.
This was an entertaining game, which is all most of us can ask for at this stage of the season. I actually quite enjoyed it, but found myself furious at certain points watching the defensive zone coverage from the Habs. It has been problematic this season to say the least, but of late it appears to have worsened beyond repair.
The passive box that the Habs are playing in their own zone is brutally ineffective. They are essentially giving up the perimeter, and committing everything to their defense of the slot. Against the Ducks, it at least led to them giving up less shots on net, but it also allowed for goals like the one above, and Zegras’s highlight reel Michigan goal earlier in the game.
The fact that we’re seeing this in multiple games suggests it isn’t an anomaly, they’re being coached to this. If this is the best that Luke Richardson and Dominique Ducharme can come up with, they should both be replaced immediately. Losing is one thing, but losing because your defensive coverage is a constant liability is another thing altogether.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Canadiens suck and the Oilers get the 4-2 win they need.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Tyler will start drinking pond hockey beers too early and will be ready for bed by the time this game is over. 
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers WILL score first and I really mean it this time. 

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