GDB 80.0: Oilers look to finish strong on home ice (7:30pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
20 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers have become an incredibly dominant team on home ice. A victory tonight would give them 60 points on home ice for the sixth time in franchise history and the first time since 1988. And the Oilers started the season 1-4-1 at home. They are 26-5-3 since Kris Knoblauch took over, and Edmonton is guaranteed home-ice advantage in the opening round. There is a small chance they could still finish first in the Pacific Division, and the Oilers need to continue their home-ice dominance tonight against the only team who has yet to play in Edmonton this season — the San Jose Sharks.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
The Oilers lost to the Sharks 3-2 on November 9th, and that loss to the last-place Sharks led to the hiring of Kris Knoblauch and Paul Coffey. It was the low point of the season, but since that loss the Oilers have the best record in the NHL at 46-16-5 (Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson were still the coaches in the win two days later in Seattle).
The Oilers have the best home record in the NHL since November 13th at 26-5-3. Their .809P% ranks them quite a bit higher than Colorado  (.757%) and the New York Rangers (.714%). Edmonton has averaged the most goals in the NHL over that span at 4.26/game and have allowed the third fewest at 2.44 goals against/game.
San Jose skates into Edmonton with the second-worst road record in the NHL at 8-27-4. They’ve been outscored 150-84 in 39 games. They are tied for their worst road season since their first two seasons in the NHL in 1992 and 1993. They were roadkill those first two years going 3-35-2 in 1992 and 3-38-1 in 1993. The 1996 team went 8-29-4 and the Sharks have road games tonight and Thursday in Calgary to try and avoid tying that group.
San Jose has actually won their last two road games in St. Louis and Seattle. With their loss on home ice to Minnesota this past Saturday they officially clinched last place in the NHL. They will have the best odds, 25.5%, to win the draft lottery and select Macklin Celebrini first overall. Chicago has the second-best odds at 13.5% while Anaheim has a 11.5% chance to win. The NHL has yet to announce when the 2024 draft lottery will be held, but it sounds like it will either be May 6th or 7th. Side note: Isn’t it odd that they don’t have a set date for the draft lottery? But I digress.
The Sharks are playing for pride and some players are playing for their next contracts. They don’t have the skill of the Oilers, but they won’t just hand Edmonton the game. The Oilers need to take it from them, and with Connor McDavid returning to the lineup, and in need of one assist for 100, I suspect he and the Oilers will have a lot of jump tonight.
They have dominated bottom-tier teams this season going 23-4-2 and outscoring them 116-60. They did lose 3-2 in OT to Arizona on Friday, so look for them to take charge over the NHL’s worst team tonight.




Henrique– McDavid – Hyman
RNH – Draisaitl – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Desharnais
McDavid returns to the lineup and will have Adam Henrique and Zach Hyman on his line. Don’t expect the Oilers to run four consistent lines in the playoffs. Knoblauch said last week they haven’t done it all season, and he doesn’t expect to in the playoffs. “The lines will depend on matchups, who we are playing and where. We have pairs (forwards) we like to keep together, but the lines will change depending on the situation,” said Knoblauch.
McDavid added, “We have had different combinations all season. I think it is good. We have lots of good players who can play with anyone.”
Evander Kane is getting a maintenance day. Knoblauch said if it was a playoff game, Kane would play. I expect Knoblauch to give a few players a game off this week. Philip Broberg will join the Oilers in Arizona and that will allow Knoblauch to rest two defenders each of their final two games if he wants.


Eklund – Granlund – Zetterlund
Kostin – Kunin – Graf
Bordeleau – Studnicka – Bailey
Labanc – Sturm – Carpenter
Ferraro – Rutta
Thurn – Burroughs
Vlasic – Addison<
The Sharks’ top line has been quite productive the past six weeks. Granlund has 23 points in 22 games, while Eklund and Zetterlund have 18 and 17 respectively. Former Oiler, Klim Kostin, has five goals and 10 points in 17 games since being acquired from Detroit.
The Sharks’ on-ice play matches their record. They struggle offensively and defensively in almost every category.
The only area they aren’t bottom five in the league is rebound chances for and against. Yikes.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers wrap up their home portion of the regular season with a convincing 6-1 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid joins the exclusive 100-assist club as he picks up assists 100 and 101.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Adam Henrique produces his first two-goal game as a member of the Oilers.

Check out these posts...