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GDB +15.0: Oilers Look for Home Ice Advantage (6:30pm MT, CBC)

Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
22 days ago
There hasn’t been much separation between the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars through two games. Both games were one-goal games before Esa Lindell scored into the empty net in Game 2. Each team has four goals 5×5, yet the Oilers do have more shots and scoring chances. Edmonton has limited the Stars to only three scoring chances off the rush while generating 16 of its own.
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Now they are on home ice in front of a raucous crowd with an opportunity to take a 2-1 series lead on the birthday of one of their most precious fans.
Ben Stelter lived six years and 76 days before passing away from brain cancer on August 10th, 2022. Stelter became a beacon of hope, positivity and gut-wrenching emotions when he first skated onto the ice as the Scotiabank skater. I remember that day very well. A family friend had texted our show to tell us about Ben, who was five at the time and had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. He asked that we spread the word to give him a big round of applause, so we mentioned it on air and online, and when Ben skated out, the crowd made him feel welcome.
It was an instant love affair for Edmontonians and Oilers fans and quickly spread to fans around the league. Ben’s big smile, and his infectious giggle while sitting at the podium with Zach Hyman, only endeared him more to hockey fans. His parents Mike and Lea, and sisters Dylan and Emmy, were open and vulnerable sharing their story of Ben, and their time with him to so many strangers. Fans related to Ben’s love of the Oilers and were captivated by his journey. Despite knowing what the ending tragically would be, the Oilers players, organization and fans relished every moment along the way.
Families had open conversations with their children about Ben’s diagnosis. My son is two years older than Ben, and Ben’s journey led to many conversations about life and death that we might not have had. It was special, and when I told him today was Ben’s birthday, he smiled and said, “No way the Oilers can lose now. Ben will give them energy.”
It is rare for any fanbase to be in complete agreement on a topic, but Ben Stelter and Joey Moss are the two figures connected to the organization with whom I’ve seen 100 percent agreement amongst fans. Both were beloved, for very different reasons, but ultimately, their connection to the team and the fans was their love of the Oilers. It was unwavering and unconditional, and the players loved them back the same way.
Joey passed away on October 26th, 2020, and it is too bad it was during COVID, or I fully believe he would have had one of the biggest funerals in Edmonton. When I decided to write an article honouring his 57 years lived and using words of 57 of his friends, it was the quickest response from players I’d ever received. When I sent them a text asking for their thoughts via email, they came flooding in almost instantly. Heartfelt tributes to a man who changed their lives, and in their words made them better.
Ben was here for a much shorter time, but his impact on the community was huge and has grown since his passing. The Ben Stelter Foundation has already raised millions of dollars to help kids, and their families, who are battling cancer. Mike and Lea lived through the struggles, and their goal is to try to lessen the pain for families and their children during a very difficult time. Not surprisingly, the Edmonton community has been very supportive.
The crowd will be electric tonight, as it always is in the playoffs, but a quick mention of Ben’s birthday will send the crowd into a deeper, emotional frenzy. You never know which small advantage will help you in a game, and there are no guarantees that advantage leads to success, but the spirit of young Ben Stelter will be felt a bit more tonight, win or lose.

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Holloway – Draisaitl – Kane
Foegele – Henrique – Ryan
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
Skinner
Ryan McLeod comes out and Adam Henrique returns to the lineup for the first time since Game 2 vs. Vancouver. The line aren’t 100% guaranteed, but Henrique did mention to me he thinks he is playing centre. The Oilers need to get some offensive contribution from the third line, or at the very least stop them from being outscored. McLeod has been on the ice for a goal against for the past four games, while Ryan and Foegele have been for a goal against 5×5 over the past three games. Foegele has yet to have a game in the playoffs where he outscored the opposition 5×5. He’s been outscored in eight games and is even in the other six. McLeod has nine games where he was even and five games where he was outscored.
Henrique can’t fix the line on his own. Foegele and Ryan also need to play better, but Kris Knoblauch opted to give McLeod the night off. It should also be a wake-up call for Ryan and Foegele, and we’ll see how they respond tonight, regardless of who they play with.
Connor McDavid faced Miro Heiskanen on every shift in the third period of Game 2. McDavid had a positive shot share when Heiskanen was paired with Lindell. Knoblauch won’t, and shouldn’t be afraid of any matchup, but trying to get McDavid out for a few shifts against Thomas Harley, Ryan Suter or Alex Petrovic could be a big benefit with the last change tonight.
McDavid is looking for his first goal at home in the playoffs. He has 12 assists in six games. He went seven home games without a goal in January 2018 and eight consecutive home games without a goal in February 2022. It is rare, and the odds suggest McDavid is due to light the lamp. Would anyone be surprised if he scored at home on Ben’s birthday?

Stars

Robertson – Johnston – Stankoven
Marchment – Duchene – Pavelski
Benn – Seguin – Dadonov
Smith – Steel – Dellandrea
Harley – Heiskanen
Lindell – Tanev
Suter – Petrovic
Oettinger
According to head coach Pete Deboer, Roope Hintz will be a game-time decision. Hintz is close, but we won’t know for sure if he plays until later this evening. If he comes in, I expect Ty Dellandrea to come out.
The Stars are among the least penalized teams in the NHL for many reasons. They don’t get involved in many scrums. They defend their goal by taking angles, and rarely do you see them crosschecking players in front of the net. They are extremely disciplined with their sticks. They rarely take many hooks, slashing or crosschecking penalties because their sticks are rarely up.
“They are very disciplined,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “They haven’t taken many penalties all year, but when they do we (the power play) has to be ready.”
The Oilers have only had two power plays. The third one late in Game 2, was only 42 seconds, and they might only get or two tonight, but when they do they have to be sharp.
The Stars are 5-1 on the road. Colorado only had nine regulation losses all season, but Dallas won all three games in Colorado last round. The Oilers were tied with the Avalanche for fewest home regulation losses in the regular season, and they are 4-2 at home in the playoffs.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: We see another close game, and while I hope I’m wrong, I think it will be low-scoring. Oilers sneak out a 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: A Ben Stelter mention sends the crowd into an extended and deafening applause. McDavid does not go pointless for a second consecutive Game 3 on home ice.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers 4th line chips in with another goal.

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