Is there anything better than a matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens to get your Saturday night started? Not to me, and that’s why I’m excited to help us all get set for what is another crucial game for our beloved hockey squadron. The boys need points and this is a good chance to some. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day.
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The last time these two teams met up, the Edmonton Oilers handed the Canadiens a beatdown that almost made me grateful there were no Habs fans in the stands to see it. Not only did our boys run the show as if they were facing their little brother’s PeeWee team, but it was also the kind of night where the Oilers flexed heavily on a team that they should beat more often than not in all three zones on the ice. There was no playing down to their opponent as we’ve seen a bunch of times over the years nor did the boys let the Habs hang around longer than they should have — it was beautiful. A dominant win and a bettor’s dream. And the thing about wins like that one is that they’re incredibly addicting, and that makes me want another taste of the good life here on Hockey Night in Canada. I want to watch the Oilers flex again. I want everyone Canadiens fan that was overcharged for their tickets tonight to go home unhappy, maybe even sobbing quietly on their way out if I’m being greedy. I want the boys to show the Habs where the bear shits.
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As much as I’ve said a bunch of times already that the Oilers should beat the Canadiens, the reality is that they’ll need a bunch of the boys to step their games up if we’re going to make it happen. With injuries littered throughout the lineup, the Oilers need to win without the help of some key pieces and that presents a challenge that they’ll need to navigate successfully. But at 6-4-0 in their last 10 games, the Montreal Canadiens seem to be responding well to Martin St. Louis as their new head coach, and rather than being a freebee on the schedule, they’ve turned themselves into a bit of a problem. Through these last few weeks, the Habs have outscored their opponents 32-28 and that tells me that the Oilers will need to be careful with their puck choices or risk getting burned. As much as the win in Montreal was nice back in January, that game doesn’t mean anything as for how the rematch with play out. In fact, that win probably hurts the Oilers in a way since the Canadiens will likely be gunning to return the favour in our barn now that they’re here. My point is that there are no gimmes in this league and if the Oilers are going to cash in two points then Montreal is going to make them earn it.
Let’s see what the numbers say.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS
CANADIENS
RECORD
30-21-4
14-34-7
WIN/LOSS STREAK
L1
W1
LAST 10 GAMES
6-3-1
6-4-0
GOALS FOR
182
132
GOALS AGAINST
175
210
POWER PLAY%
26.3
12.6
PENALTY KILL%
76.3
73.5
AVG. SHOTS/FOR
33.3
29.6
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST
31.9
34.1
TEAM SAVE%
.915
.911
CORSI FOR%
52.54
47.42
PDO
0.994
0.983
TEAM SHOOTING%
7.94
7.17
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%
51.66
45.90
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

LINEUPS…

Oilers ***UPDATED***

McLeod – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – Shore – Ryan
Benson – Turris
Nurse – Ceci
Keith – Bouchard
Broberg – Lagesson
Niemelainen
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Smith
No doubt about it, the Oilers are banged up right now so I’m curious to see if Jay Woodcroft makes any changes in response to a disappointing result against the Blackhawks on Thursday. With three players in the top nine already out (Nuge, Puljujarvi, Kassian) and Barrie joining them on the shelf for the next week or so, we’re getting another very real test of our depth at arguably the most stressful point in the season, and we’ll need a bunch of guys to step up and fight beyond their weight class. Seeing as the Oilers didn’t have much of a morning skate, the lineups haven’t been released yet so what I’ve got up top is only a guess, but I’ll be sure to jump back in and update the article as news becomes available.
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Canadiens

Caufield – Suzuki – Anderson
Hoffman – Dauphin – Gallagher
Pitlick – Evans – Lehkonen
Pezzetta – Poehling – Perreault
Romanov – Chiarot
Kulak – Petry
Wideman – Schueneman
Montembeault
I don’t care if this makes me seem like a jerk or not, but the Montreal Canadiens are terrible and remain terrible even with their recent turnaround. Even though Martin St. Louis has this team playing better of late — their win over the Flames the other night was very impressive — I still see nothing about the lineup above that suggests that the Oilers shouldn’t still be able to win regardless of the injuries they’re battling right now. That said, our boys have often been accused of playing down to their competition and that’s something that cannot happen in this game or they’ll risk being one of the few teams to lose to the horrible Montreal Canadiens.
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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

(Thursday’s win over Calgary) came two nights after the Canadiens experienced disappointment in Winnipeg. After rallying from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game, Montreal gave up three power-play goals and lost 8-4 to the Jets.
“The last game might have taken a shot of our confidence away, but it seems like we came up big tonight, especially after it was 3-1 for Calgary,” Hammond said. “We’re gonna keep battling, to trust in our system, to get one (goal) and then it’s a one-goal game, and that’s how we adjusted.”
“I didn’t think we played bad in Winnipeg,” Chiarot added. “I don’t know how many penalties we had, but I haven’t seen that many penalties in a long time. We were shooting ourselves in the foot, but I thought for the most part we were good.”
The Canadiens almost shot themselves in the foot again Thursday. After Mike Hoffman gave Montreal its first lead with a goal at 17:15 in the third period, the Flames spent the remainder of the period in the Montreal zone, thanks to a couple of icing calls. The Calgary pressure resulted in a tying goal by Elias Lindholm with 28 seconds remaining.
The Canadiens are 6-4-0 since St. Louis replaced Dominique Ducharme, and they have won twice in overtime and once in a shootout.
“This team is starting to understand that we’re never out of it,” St. Louis said. “We don’t know if we’re going to score all the goals and make the key saves, but tonight we did.”

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
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Game Day Prediction: Your Saturday night starts with a convincing 4-2 Oilers win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers’ power play will frustrate us greatly.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: William Lagesson scores his first NHL goal, forcing Tyler Yaremchuk to say something nice about him.

GDB BROUGHT TO YOU BY COLLIN BRUCE MORTGAGE TEAM

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