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GDB +22.0: Do or die for the Oilers in Game 4 (6pm MT, CBC)

Pre-game at Rogers Place Game 3
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
I was so excited when I wrote the GDB for Game 1 a week ago. Seven days later, I’m back on the job, but this time with a very different tone. This time, we’re looking to avoid forcing Oilers fans to watch the Panthers’ Cup celebration on home ice. This, my friends, is not ideal.
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Listen, there is nothing I write here that will make anyone feel any better about the situation the Oilers are in as we head into Game 4. This sucks. Nothing about this series is going the way any of us hoped it would, and now our boys are one game away from losing to the Stanley Cup Champions for the third straight year. In every possible way, this sucks.
I’m sure at this point that you’ve all seen that the last team to come back from being down by 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. Of course, there are two ways you can think about it. The first would be to get down in the dumps and think this thing is over before it begins. It’s an understandable approach, tbh. The second way you can look at this is that the NHL is due for a comeback for the ages, and if there is ever a team to do it, it’s the McDavid-led Edmonton Oilers.
Admittedly, this second approach takes a little bit of “ignoring the math” and potentially “drinking at breakfast,” but we’ve built an entire brand around the idea that Hope Will Never Die, and there’s no way I’m giving that up now. Until proven otherwise, I’m operating under the belief that we’re only a four-game heater away from solving all of our problems, and I won’t be listening to arguments to the contrary, regardless of how reasonable they may be.
“The belief in that room is that we believe in each other. We think that we’re the only team in the league that could accomplish something like this to be able to come back on such a good group over there,” Connor Brown said after the team’s optional skate, and I so desperately want to buy into that wishful thinking that it’s making me sick. This Oilers team has had an eight-game winning streak and a 16-game winning this season alone, so how hard could it possibly be for them to win four in a row?
Am I right? Anybody? Don’t leave me hanging now.
When Zach Hyman was asked about the Oilers being in a tough spot, he looked at the situation through a positive lens, “There is no more pressure. Everyone (outside the room) thinks we are going to lose, so we have no pressure in here. We can go out and play, have fun, and win one game at a time. There are no excuses. We have to get to the areas and bear down.”
If the Oilers are going to extend this series beyond four games, the simple fact is that they need their best players to be their best players. To this point in the series, we don’t have a single top-six goal, and I don’t have to explain to anyone reading this why that is a major issue. The big dawgs have to rise to this moment. I know that’s easier said than done, but I also can’t help but feel like it’s only a matter of time before the dam breaks.
The chances have been there, but now we need the extra quarter turn on the give-a-shit-o-meter to actually get more pucks over the goal line. I know Bobrovsky has been fantastic in this series, but I also think the Oilers started cooking up a different recipe on how they can beat him in the third period of Game 3. This is not a goaltender that is unbeatable — there were a bunch of people who said his contract was the worst in the NHL not so long ago — but it will take our heroes getting back to what’s made them successful all along the way.
As Kris Knoblauch said, “Hopefully, Zach Hyman can write a story about this when it’s all said and done.”
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSPANTHERS
RECORD12-915-5
WIN/LOSS STREAKL3W6
GOALS FOR6766
GOALS AGAINST5843
POWER PLAY%31.221.7
PENALTY KILL%93.190.2
AVG. SHOTS/FOR28.931.8
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST24.825.1
TEAM SAVE%.893.929
CORSI FOR%50.3054.37
PDO0.9851.008
TEAM SHOOTING%9.217.93
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%50.2053.66
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)
  • Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have the most points amongst all NHL players, not just in this year’s playoffs but over the past three postseasons as a whole. McDavid leads the way with 87 points (23G, 64A) in 49 games and is fourth in goals, while Draisaitl is second with 78 points (30G, 48A) in 49 games and is first in goals since the 2022 postseason. Needless to say, we need both of these guys to make some magic here in Game 4.
  • McDavid has recorded at least a point in 10 of the 12 career Game 4s he’s played in (3G, 16A), while Draisaitl has at least a point in 9 of the 12 career Game 4s he has played in (4G, 15A).

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
Foegele – Draisaitl – Perry
Janmark – Henrique – Brown
Holloway – McLeod – Ryan
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Ceci
Broberg – Nurse
Skinner
Kris Knoblauch wouldn’t show his cards after the team’s morning skate when asked if Evander Kane would be back in the lineup for Game 4, so we’ll have to wait and see what the lineups look like when the game starts. What’s shown above is what the Oilers ran with in practice yesterday, but I wouldn’t put much stock into these pairings and combos until we get closer to puck drop.

Panthers

Verhaeghe – Barkov – Reinhart
Tkachuk – Bennett – Rodrigues
Luostarinen – Lundell – Tarasenko
Lorentz – Stenlund – Okposo
Forsling – Ekblad
Mikkola – Montour
Ekman-Larsson – Kulikov
Bobrovsky
I expect nothing short of an all-out effort by the Florida Panthers tonight, and it will take a very high level of execution to prevent them from winning the Stanley Cup on our home turf. Anything less than the Oilers’ best, and the Panthers will feast once again. They’re a damned good hockey team, and you know they’ll be dialled in from the moment the puck drops.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers stay alive with a power play goal and an empty-netter, extending the series with a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: When the Oilers win this game, the party in downtown Edmonton will go on long into the night.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid AND Leon Draisaitl score in this one.

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