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If there’s one thing that will surely fix what’s ailing the Edmonton Oilers right now it’s another matinee, amirite? Dare to dream?
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I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that things are not going well for our beloved Edmonton Oilers right now. That’s not to say that it’s all bad — we’re still talking about a team that’s 6-4-0 in their last 10 games — but I don’t think anyone on the ice or watching on TV would say they’re satisfied with the way this last stretch has played out. With only one win in their last five games, the Oilers are giving back all of the ground they gained during the five-game winning streak, and we need to get this train back on the rails. No matter where you’re at with your own thoughts on what the biggest issues are, there’s little doubt that the Oilers have a laundry list of problems they need to correct. Whether or not that improvement can start today against an opponent as strong as the Florida Panthers remains to be seen, but what I know for sure is that the Oilers are struggling mightily in their own end and it’s a trend that needs to stop. Whether we’re talking about the penalty kill disaster or the turnovers or the goaltending or anything in between, the Oilers have to find a way to raise their level of play and do it quickly.
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Even with Kane out for the next few months and Yamamoto back in Edmonton battling some unknown ailment, the boys need to pull themselves out of this mess because there no help is on the way and no one is giving them a free pass because of injuries. The group they have in the room is the one that will have to turn things around, and all 19 guys in the white jerseys have to play a part in figuring this out. Looking ahead at today’s matchup with the Panthers, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Oilers can’t turn in another performance like they had against the Hurricanes or risk getting blown up for a second straight game. Outside of a decent first period, the Oilers spent the rest of the night coughing the puck up like the whole point of hockey is passing to the other team. That can’t happen against the Panthers. They’re too good and have too many guys that will pump those mistakes into the back of our net if we’re sloppy, and I’d rather not spend three more hours of my life watching the Oilers look like they’re paying tribute to the Eakins era. Besides, the Oilers are better than they’ve shown on this road trip so know there’s more there, but they’ve also gotten away from executing even the smallest details of their game and it’s hard to imagine wins coming unless they clear that up.
Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS
PANTHERS
RECORD
8-7-0
8-5-1
WIN/LOSS STREAK
L1
W2
Last 10 Games
6-4-0
5-4-1
GOALS FOR
55
46
GOALS AGAINST
56
42
POWER PLAY%
33.3
13.8
PENALTY KILL%
70.8
75.0
AVG. SHOTS/FOR
32.1
40.1
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST
34.5
30.6
TEAM SAVE%
.912
.917
CORSI FOR%
48.91
58.03
PDO
0.988
0.998
TEAM SHOOTING%
7.58
8.05
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%
48.36
56.10
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)

GDB PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Puljujarvi
Holloway – Draisaitl – Hyman
Foegele – McLeod – Kostin
Janmark – Shore – Ryan
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Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Bouchard
Niemelainen – Barrie
Skinner
Based on the line combos from yesterday’s practice, Jay Woodcroft has the blender out and it will be interesting to see if any of these changes make a difference. I’m also interested to see if Mattias Janmark and Klim Kostin can make any kind of an impact in their first appearances — Janmark played 10:52 in his Oilers debut against the Hurricanes — at a time when we’re absolutely gagging for depth players to step their games up.

Panthers

Tkachuk – Barkov – White
Verhaeghe – Bennett – Cousins
Luostarinen – Lundell – Reinhart
Lomberg – Staal – Heponiemi
Forsling – Montour
Mahura – Gudas
Kiersted – Staal
Knight
It seems fitting that Matt Tkachuk’s first game back after getting banged up against the Kings on November 5th will be against the Edmonton Oilers. If there is anyone in this league that can annoy the Edmonton Oilers back into life it’s Matt Tkachuk, and my hope is that having him in this game will help to get the boys fired up. The Oilers are better when they have an edge to their game and maybe, just maybe the turtle’s punchable face is just what the doctor ordered.
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

The Florida Panthers get another day off to bask in the good vibes created by the now 8-5-1 club’s shutout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Florida will face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night with leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk, and if they can sort out the financials, number one defenseman Aaron Ekblad back in the lineup. The Oilers got throttled 7-2 by the Hurricanes last night in Raleigh with Mister Svechnikov! collecting a hat trick.
Three of four of the Cats four Atlantic Division brethren that played last night took losses. Jack Eichel’s hat trick led to a 7-4 road win for the Vegas Golden Knights over the Buffalo Sabres, and 19.6 points in the bank for my fantasy team. The New York Rangers went into Detroit and destroyed the Red Wings by an 8-2 count. And the Ottawa Senators dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the New Jersey Devils. The only winner was the Boston Bruins, who got a 31-save effort from Linus Ullmark to topple the struggling Calgary Flames, 3-1. The first place Bruins opened up a seven-point lead on the Panthers.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: Oilers buck the trend and get themselves back in the win column with a 4-2 win.
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Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers will give up the first goal of the game because the sun is still out. I’m also going to say that Matthew Tkachuk picks that goal up because why wouldn’t he continue to annoy us even in a different jersey?
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers manage to kill off every penalty they take despite another game filled with trips to the box.