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For the second time in this young season, the Edmonton Oilers are kicking off the weekend with a 2pm matinee at Rogers Place. This time, the Dallas Stars are in town and looking to extend their winning streak to three games while our beloved heroes will try to get back in the win column after Thursday’s heartbreaking loss to the Devils.
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What is the deal with the Oilers already having two Saturday matinees at Rogers Place in under a month? As much as I love a good matinee, the reality is that the Oilers haven’t been very good in day games at all over the years. According to Reid Wilkins, the team is sporting an uninspiring record of 94-122-27 in day games, and that has me feeling a little bit nervous about what to expect against the Stars. As much as I truly believe the Stars are a team the Oilers can beat, there’s this weird voodoo that seems to happen when the boys play in the daylight hours and it has me wondering what needs to happen to buck the trend in these early starts. Even two weeks ago against the Blues, the Oilers played reasonably well but couldn’t score a single goal, and it makes me wonder if there’s some kind of Nightman curse that the Dayman has yet to break. Too inside with that joke? Anybody else love It’s Always Sunny? Alright, let’s move on.
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If the Oilers are going to buck the matinee trend and get themselves back in the win column, they’re going to have to find a way to limit the Stars’ chances against and do a better job of shot suppression. On Thursday night, the boys carried a 3-1 lead into the third period only to have it vanish in a flash after the Devils shelled Stuart Skinner with 17 shots — many from in close or quality scoring areas — and, to state the obvious, that can’t happen again. Even though the Dallas Stars are by no means unstoppable, this is a team that’s currently sitting atop the Central Division with more than enough firepower to ruin your day if you let them, and I’m hoping that the lessons learned from the loss to the Devils sunk in and that we’ll have a better overall group as a result. Looking ahead at this afternoon, this is a winnable game for Edmonton but they’ll need to bring their best and have that happen right from the opening faceoff, something that’s been a struggle over the years when the sun is still out. Here’s hoping the boys have the coffee brewing and that everyone is ready to go for two o’clock.
Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS
STARS
RECORD
7-4-0
7-3-1
WIN/LOSS STREAK
L1
W2
Last 10 Games
6-4-0
6-3-1
GOALS FOR
44
40
GOALS AGAINST
36
25
POWER PLAY%
34.2
26.3
PENALTY KILL%
75.0
84.8
AVG. SHOTS/FOR
33.7
30.5
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST
34.6
31.0
TEAM SAVE%
.927
.940
CORSI FOR%
50.84
48.83
PDO
1.011
1.046
TEAM SHOOTING%
8.39
10.48
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%
50.20
50.43
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

GDB PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Puljujarvi
Holloway – Shore – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard
Niemelainen – Barrie
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Campbell
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitil are on five and six-game point streaks respectively with each guy collecting 14 points, and I cannot wait to see what the Stars have planned to try and quiet them down. Best of luck to them, I suppose. As for the line combos, I can’t imagine Woodcroft will be making any changes as this group has been playing well of late, but we’ll have to wait and see. Same goes for who starts in net. I’m guessing that Campbell will get the knod, but I wouldn’t bank on that so I’ll be sure to jump back in and make the edits as news becomes available.

Stars

Robertson – Hintz – Pavelski
Marchment – Seguin – Gurianov
Benn – Johnston – Dellandrea
Faksa – Glendening – Kiviranta
Heiskanen – Miller
Suter – Lundkvist
Lindell – Hakanpaa
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Wedgewood
Even though the Stars don’t have the high-end firepower that the Oilers do, they’re putting pucks in the net at a high rate and that’s something the boys will have to manage. As we all know, the Oilers aren’t exactly world beaters in afternoon games and it’ll be up to the boys to do a better job of managing the smaller details of their game, including the need to be tighter defensively at key moments of the game.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

The Stars needed some offensive breakthroughs. Thursday’s 7-2 win over the Coyotes provided them.
Three different Stars scored their first goals of the season, as Denis Gurianov, Ty Dellandrea and Jamie Benn each broke through in the 11th game of the season.
Gurianov scored in the opening two minutes of the game, roofing a shot past Connor Ingram after a hearty Stars forecheck. Dellandrea scored by deflecting Colin Miller’s shot off the back of his leg. Benn’s goal came after Karel Vejmelka’s egregious pass directly to Benn.
“I think we had a lot of guys get a goal tonight that needed one,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “Jamie Benn got one. Denis got one. [Wyatt Johnston] got a great goal. We need that depth scoring. A couple of those guys have been a bit snakebit and need to get one.”
Gurianov probably needed the goal the most, having went pointless for the first nine games of the season. He picked up his first point of the campaign on Tuesday, when he assisted on Tyler Seguin’s goal.
The one-time 20-goal scorer was a healthy scratch in Ottawa last week. His inconsistency has forced DeBoer to rotate right wingers on the second line before settling on Gurianov this week.
“Great, especially because we won,” Gurianov said. “It’s good. Moving forward, we got to keep working, play the same way. … Just try to play my game, use my speed. Try and play without the puck, get open for the D. Win more battles, go to the net.”
Preceding Gurianov’s goal, the Stars won the puck thanks to Esa Lindell’s one-man forecheck and Gurianov’s ensuing board play. Asked about Lindell’s forecheck, Gurianov said “I don’t remember. I remember when I shoot and score.”
Benn, meanwhile, posted his second straight multi-point game by registering a goal and two assists. He had two assists in the win over Los Angeles on Tuesday, and now has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 11 games.
“He was maybe our best player last game,” DeBoer said. “Tonight, probably in the same conversation. I think he’s feeling good. I think he’s enjoying playing with those two young guys. He’s doing a good job.”

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
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Game Day Prediction: Oilers get back in the win column with a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl connect for another power play goal from Leon’s office in the circle.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Markus Niemelainen picks up his first NHL goal with a seeing eye wrister from the point.
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