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GDB 43.0: Rinse, Wash, Repeat for a 14th Time (7pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
The Edmonton Oilers have been the model of consistency during their franchise-high, 13-game winning streak. They haven’t dominated every period, because that’s impossible in the best hockey league in the world, but they’ve made a commitment to being the more consistent team every night.
They’ve seemingly gotten better as the streak extends. They’ve outscored teams 40-16 over the last 11 games, while allowing two goals or fewer in all 11 games.
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In those 11 post-Christmas games they are averaging 3.64 goals/game, allowing only 1.45 goals/game. Their power play is 22.6%, while their penalty kill is 94.6%. They are outshooting teams by an average of 34.5 to 27.2. They had a stretch of games where they didn’t start very well, or at least they didn’t finish any of their first-period chances. They only scored two first period goals in their first seven games in January. They trailed after the first period in six of those games, but they refocused, and dominated the second and third periods enough to outscore their opponents 19-9.
Kris Knoblauch spoke about the need to be better in the first period, after consecutive games where they trailed Toronto and Seattle 2-0. The Oilers responded to their coach and dominated the first period in Calgary. They only led 1-0, but Dan Vladar was the only reason the game wasn’t 3-0 or 4-0.
“When you can take what we are being told in meetings and things we want to tackle on the ice and be able to come out and actually put it into practice in games, I think that’s what has allowed us to put these wins together,” said Darnell Nurse. “We aren’t just talking about it — we are actually going out there and doing it. That is a huge part of it.”
For the past two seasons Oilers players talked often about needing to be more consistent defensively — to be better — but it didn’t happen, at least not consistently. They had good stretches, but then they’d revert back to gifting easy goals. They’ve eliminated that from their game the past few months. They aren’t perfect, but they make teams work much harder for their goals. Santa Claus no longer resides within the Oilers’ lineup.
They are obviously enjoying their hot streak, but their play suggests they aren’t satisfied.
“Thirteen in a row is great, but I think the best thing has been our approach,” said Nurse. “We are taking it one day at a time, one game at a time. We haven’t been looking too far ahead. You reflect a little bit on the past (games in the streak), and we have won many different ways during this stretch. It is nice when we are down a goal or two after a period to say, we were in this position last week, and we’ve found ways to win. It has given us more confidence, obviously, and on top of that even more confidence in each and every situation that you find in a game.”
Eventually they will lose, but the habits they have created the past two months look sustainable. They are getting balanced scoring. They’ve reduced the five-star giveaways, the coaches have more defined roles for players and if they get behind in a game, Knoblauch sticks to his game plan, and the players believe they can come back — they don’t take major risks trying to tie the game.
They have to respect the Blue Jackets’ offence at 5×5 — they are 10th in goals for at 5×5. Their issue is they give up too many. They’ve allowed the third most (112) in the league. The Oilers will get their chances, and if they capitalize early they could make this game a bit less taxing.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Edmonton Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Foegele
Janmark – McLeod– Ryan
Gagner – Holloway – Brown
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
Oilers will ice the same lineup as they did in Calgary. Dylan Holloway was excellent in his return to the lineup after fracturing his kneecap and missing two months. He was in Bakersfield for three weeks and played his natural position, centre, and played well. “I played centre my whole life including junior and college,” said Holloway. “It wasn’t until I turned pro that I played left wing, and going back to centre is pretty refreshing. It is a lot of fun, and you get more speed with the puck, more puck touches and obviously it is a bigger role defensively. I like it, and I think it is a good fit for myself and I’m just grateful to be back playing again.”
Holloway and McLeod’s speed down the middle gives the bottom six a much more aggressive combination and with Knoblauch and Coffey’s approach to making plays and not just dumping the puck in (or out of the zone) allows them to have the puck more. Holloway could have had three points in Calgary. He set Connor Brown up with an empty net and he shot it into Dan Vladar, and he also gave Cody Ceci a very good scoring chance.

Columbus

Gaudreau – Sillinger – Chinakov
Fantilli – Jenner – Roslovic
Johnson – Voronkov – Marcheno
Texier – Kuraly – Danforth
Severson – Boqvist
Provorov – Peeke
Bean – Gudbranson
Merzlikins
The Blue Jackets have won three in a row against the Oilers. The Oilers haven’t beat them since December 16th, 2021. In their other 175 games since then the Oilers are 108-52-15. They have a .666P% and a .617 winning% against the rest of the league but have only managed one point in three games v. the Blue Jackets. Columbus will be fired up to play. They’ve only played once in seven games, and they’d love nothing more than to end the Oilers 13-game winning streak.
The first period will be crucial. Don’t give Columbus any life. The Oilers have outscored teams 11-10 in the 1st, but then dominated the rest of the game (14-6 in the second frame, and 23-6 in the third). A good start will go a long way to dampening the spirits of the Blue Jackets. The Oilers have more skill, and if they use it like they have lately they should win.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton becomes the seventh team in NHL history to win 14 games in a row as they defeat the Blue Jackets 5-2. They also end a three-game losing streak against Columbus.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his home point streak to 16 games, which would tie him for ninth longest in franchise history. He owns the sixth longest at 21 games trailing Wayne Gretzky who had streaks of 33, 28, 25 and 23. Paul Coffey also had a 23-game home point streak.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid produces only his second multi-goal game of the season. He had 14 last year.
Edited with further information (3:40 PM)

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