GDB 18.0: SLAY THE DRAGON

Jason Gregor
February 25 2013 01:06PM

If you focus on statistical categories heading into tonight's tilt v. the red-hot Chicago Blackhawks it doesn't look good for the Oilers. The Hawks are 15-0-3, they have ice girls, a sold out building and right now they win for fun.

Can the Oilers pull off a major upset?

Logic tells you it is highly unlikely that the Oilers can skate into Chicago and leave with two points.

The Hawks have outscored their opponents 56-32 (I don't include SO goals).

The majority of the game is played five-on-five and the Hawks have 38 GF and 24 GA, meanwhile the Oilers ES scoring woes continue with a league-worst 16 goals, but at least they've only allowed 30 five-on-five. The Hawks are +14 in ES scoring while the Oilers are -14. Ouch.

The Oilers have the 4th most PP goals, 18 on 76 opportunities, but the Hawks PK is 2nd best in the league having allowed only 7 goals on 67 chances. 

LINE UP

Smyth-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle
Paajarvi-Gagner-Hemsky
Eager-Belanger-Jones
Yakupov-Vande Velde-Petrell

Teemu Hartikainen has been put on the IR with a shoulder injury and Lennart Petrell has been activated. Smyth has four points in his last four games and he's played much better since being benched. With Taylor Hall sitting out the final game of his two-game suspension it makes sense to put Smyth on the top line. The Oilers need to find a mix that will get them at least two ES scoring lines.

I suspect Paajarvi needs a great game to stay in the top-six past tonight, and lately he's been either highly noticeable or completely invisible. He needs to find some consistency in his game.

Yakupov on the 4th line is a bit of a head scratcher, but Krueger had to mix up his 2nd line. They weren't producing, and they were giving way more scoring chances than they were producing. There is no point putting Yakupov with Belanger, because Belanger has zero offensive confidence right now.

When Hall returns, I wonder if Krueger will mix up his six skilled forwards amongst three lines. The issue is that until Horcoff returns it means two of his skilled guys will have to play with Belanger. Belanger has shown he's a solid 4th line centre, who can kill penalties, but his offensive instincts seemingly have dried up.

I'd look seriously at a Hall-Horcoff-Yakupov combination along with 94-93-14 and 28-89-83. I'm not sure any need to be labeled the 1st, 2nd or 3rd lines, but when the captain returns I'd look at that. You could switch 94 and 28 as well, since Smyth and Hemsky have always played well together.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Fistric-Potter

Interesting how Theo Peckham can't get back in the lineup, despite playing pretty well against Minnesota. Maybe it is as simple as Krueger wanting to stick with the lineup that beat Phoenix. I know Struds is a huge believer in keeping the same lineup after a win. I still don't see what the coaches see in Corey Potter, but they like him.

Khabibulin

Khabibulin has played well in every game this year; however, does Devan Dubnyk deserve to sit out an entire week? It is a fine balancing act for Krueger. He wants to win, but he also needs to find out what he has moving forward. The Oilers can't afford to waste another year chasing the playoffs without finding out if Dubnyk is their goalie of the future.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers lead the NHL with the most wins when trailing heading into the 3rd period. The Oilers are 4-3-2 when trailing after 40 minutes. That's the good news. The bad news is the Blackhaws are 12-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes.
     
  • The Hawks love fast starts. They've outscored the opposition 41-17 during the first two periods. The Oilers need a good start.
     
  • Ray Emery starts for the Blackhawks. He is 7-0 with a 2.10 GAA and a sparkling .933 SV%. Including tonight he's started 5 of the last 6 games for the Hawks. Corey Crawford shutout the Blue Jackets 1-0 last night, but he'll get the night off.
     
  • Patrick Kane is the only Blackhawk in the top-38 scorers in the NHL. Kane has 23 points in 18 games. Jonathon Toews is tied for 40th with 15 points. The Hawks have 11 players with at least 7 points. They win with balanced scoring.
     
  • “I’ve started to realize that getting hit and taking big body checks doesn’t mean you are tough or playing well, it just means you are being a little stupid and reckless. You can still go to the hard areas, and you can still get a lot of pucks and make a lot of plays without taking a big hit." Taylor Hall told me this and much more in an article about how he's changed his game. You can read the rest here. 
     
  • Ryan Whitney will sit out for the 6th time in 18 games. It looks like his time with the Oilers is coming to an end. The debate is whether they can increase his trade value by playing him, or does sitting him keep his value constant. Moving him for a 3rd or 2nd round pick doesn't help them now. I know Whitney hasn't played great this year, but moving him for a pick means they definitely lose the trade now. The pick might, a big might, pan out in four years to salvage a deal, or better yet, they move that pick to another team and acquire a proven NHL player.
     
  • The new line combinations v. Phoenix didn't result in anymore ES goals, but they did generate more chances. It is obvious the Oilers need to mix in some grease and grit with their skilled guys.
     
  • The PP has started to show some life again with four goals in their last 13 chances. Krueger had Smyth and Hartikainen both in front of the net on one unit and it led to the tying goal. The Oilers need more ugly play and less pretty plays on the PP and ES if they hope to start scoring more.
     
  • Good news is that tickets for the Nation 5th Birthday party are going well, the bad news is if you are a procrastinator there are only 50 tickets left. $20 gets you the snazzy limited edition 5th Birthday T-Shirt, a $25 Oodle Noodle GC, a $20 Pint GC, and Labatt swag. We all know you plan on watching Friday's game, so you might as well do it at the Pint Off Whyte, help raise some money for charity and get a sweet Nation T-shirt.  click here to buy yours.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hawks barely beat the lowly Blue Jackets yesterday, so you wonder if their streak is close to ending. The Hawks might be a bit fatigued, and could take the Oilers lightly, but I still don't see the upset. Hawks win 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle scores. He has 15 points in 8 career games v. the Hawks including 5 goals.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the first period Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skates into the Hawks zone, but heinexplicably stops at their blueline. He then takes two hard scrapes with his blade on the bluelinem and then slams his stick into the gap his blade just made. He then dumps the puck in and heads to the bench. After the game he was asked what he was doing on the play. "Last year the blueline cheap-shotted me. It tripped me which sending me flying into the boards and it that cost me the Calder trophy and a huge salary bonus. I can stand up for myself, and I wanted the rest of the league to know they can't cheapshot me."

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
Avatar
#51 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 07:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

Smitty looks like he's got his jump back.

Just a question here. Please don't turn this into a Smitty bashing. Is he playing better now because:

A. The benching

B. he's on the top two lines. He's never been a third liner before and he looked disinterested early on.

C. Lack of training camp (I don't buy this one personally)

Thoughts?

Smyth is smarter than Whitney................don't ever go over the coaches head.

Smyth is smart and can adapt, Whitney....not so much.

The benching worked.

Avatar
#52 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 08:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Nayeeeeeeeeeeeel

Avatar
#53 Shane
February 25 2013, 08:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

YAK!

Avatar
#54 Bucknuck
February 25 2013, 08:25PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

And Gagner gets another point. It's starting to look like the real thing boys and girls.

Avatar
#55 Dennis
February 25 2013, 08:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Stauffer tweeted that Gagner's agent is in Chicago tonight. Hope they're getting to work on an extension.

Avatar
#56 RyanCoke
February 25 2013, 08:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Yakupov with a horrible interview lol

Avatar
#57 Shane
February 25 2013, 08:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props
RyanCoke wrote:

Yakupov with a horrible interview lol

What are you talking about?

Gene: "How did you like your PP goal?"

Yak: "2-1 thats it."

GOLD.

Avatar
#58 The Soup Fascist
February 25 2013, 08:40PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props
RyanCoke wrote:

Yakupov with a horrible interview lol

Better than yours or mine would be in Russian, Comrade!

I liked it.

"What do you have to say about your goal, Nail?"

" 2 to 1"

Exactly Nail........ Exactly.

Avatar
#59 The Soup Fascist
February 25 2013, 08:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Shane wrote:

What are you talking about?

Gene: "How did you like your PP goal?"

Yak: "2-1 thats it."

GOLD.

Shane, you are a much better typist.

Props for the brilliant comment.

Avatar
#60 Shane
February 25 2013, 08:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@The Soup Fascist

Haha thanks Soup! Im glad we think alike.

Avatar
#61 Mikey
February 25 2013, 08:55PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

2 soft goals for Khabby. This is why you don't go back to back games with him.

Avatar
#62 OILERSORDEATH
February 25 2013, 08:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

What really sucks is just knowing that they will blow the lead and eventually lose the game.

Avatar
#63 Shane
February 25 2013, 09:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props
Mikey wrote:

2 soft goals for Khabby. This is why you don't go back to back games with him.

Can't really blame him, its obvious Chicago is the better team tonight.

Avatar
#64 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 09:18PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

I hate this, lets try to make it to O.T crap, brutal watching the Oilers trying to hang on.

Avatar
#65 Shane
February 25 2013, 09:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Hey a point!

Avatar
#66 shifty203
February 25 2013, 09:29PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

Embarrassing. 3 Oilers standing there with their thumbs up their bums, watching hossa whack away at the rebound.

Avatar
#67 Reg Dunlop
February 25 2013, 09:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Any chance RNH, Gagner and Yak grow up to be Toewes, Kane and Hossa? Maybe but I doubt it.

Avatar
#68 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 09:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Gagner and Hemsky on the ice.................for a goal against.....no way!

Avatar
#69 Dog Train
February 25 2013, 09:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

The better team won tonight. That tying goal in the 3rd was a real killer. Khabby was cheating off his post all night but that time it actually cost him.

We need to cut out the fancy, cute stuff and get the puck in deep sometimes. We played hard but we need to start playing smarter. We played with fire and eventually got burned. Overall, a point in this one is not a terrible start to the road trip but we head to Dallas next and we all know how that usually goes for us.

Avatar
#70 Dennis
February 25 2013, 09:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Almost ever single player on this team is in the minus. Sigh!

Avatar
#71 steelymac
February 25 2013, 09:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

Lucky to get a point they looked flatter than piss on a platter.Who ever came up with the saying that Hall is the straw that stirs the drink nailed it.

Avatar
#72 Mike Krushelnyski
February 25 2013, 09:34PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Good battle, we played with some balls tonight. Hawks were a much better team before our best player got suspended.

Smid was atrocious on goals 1 and 3.

Avatar
#73 DSF
February 25 2013, 09:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@Reg Dunlop

No.

Avatar
#74 The Don
February 25 2013, 09:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Brutal plays by Petry. First he loses Sharp and then goes behind the net sniffing daisies. How about taking the guy in front of the net? No one but Petry to blame on that last one.

Avatar
#75 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 25 2013, 09:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
3
props

Damn you Horcoff!

Avatar
#76 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 09:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
The Don wrote:

Brutal plays by Petry. First he loses Sharp and then goes behind the net sniffing daisies. How about taking the guy in front of the net? No one but Petry to blame on that last one.

Absolutely incorrect!!!!

Watch the play again, Petrys man goes behind, he follows like he should, it's Hossa who slips out to the slot.

When you watch the replay you will know without a doubt who's man Hossa is.

Petry got burned but he's line mates have to have there man, that didn't happen, it's a team game and they left Petry out to hang.

Avatar
#77 Oilfred
February 25 2013, 09:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
DSF wrote:

No.

RNH>Toews (or will be very soon imo)

Yakupov has every chance to become as good as Kane

The other two are not comparables.

Avatar
#78 oilman
February 25 2013, 09:42PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

the thing that's really bothering me is the soft plays around the boards in their own end. are they scared to ice the puck or what? it's better to risk an icing than to keep turning it over on the boards over and over again. it's so frustrating to watch. also thought jones looked more rusty in this game than in his first one back for some reason.

Avatar
#79 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 25 2013, 09:44PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Oilfred wrote:

RNH>Toews (or will be very soon imo)

Yakupov has every chance to become as good as Kane

The other two are not comparables.

C'mon man, I'm as big a homer as it gets but Toews is one of the best player in the league. To even suggest that RNH is or soon to be better than him is kinda nuts.

Avatar
#80 russ99
February 25 2013, 09:48PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
Dog Train wrote:

The better team won tonight. That tying goal in the 3rd was a real killer. Khabby was cheating off his post all night but that time it actually cost him.

We need to cut out the fancy, cute stuff and get the puck in deep sometimes. We played hard but we need to start playing smarter. We played with fire and eventually got burned. Overall, a point in this one is not a terrible start to the road trip but we head to Dallas next and we all know how that usually goes for us.

They are getting the puck in deep, but only 1 or 2 forwards are getting after it most of the time, they're cheating back on defense.

Need more of a commitment overall as a team to dump and reacquire when the passing game gets cut off.

Avatar
#81 TonyT
February 25 2013, 09:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

@OILERSORDEATH

It really sucks being a 30 year old fan of this team. Only caught a glimpse of the glory years but was really too young to appreciate them. The only Oilers I've known have been all heart, no skill, and a prayer. While Tambo's era has really emphasized prayer, as I find myself turning into what I hate the most - a wagon jumper. For the last five years I've planned a family vacation around watching a road game. I'm actually 5-0 (PHX-ANA-DET-LAK-NAS), and this year I chose to go to Dallas on Thursday. Well, Texas has snow and I find myself struggling to want to go. Are the hockey gods telling me enough is enough?

Avatar
#82 Lofty
February 25 2013, 09:59PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Smid spends too much time on his knees. You can't flail on the ice every time the puck comes around the net.

Avatar
#83 DSF
February 25 2013, 10:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Oilfred wrote:

RNH>Toews (or will be very soon imo)

Yakupov has every chance to become as good as Kane

The other two are not comparables.

Phhhttt.

Hopkins is being embarrassed by Nazem Kadri.

Avatar
#84 Mike Krushelnyski
February 25 2013, 10:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
6
props
DSF wrote:

Phhhttt.

Hopkins is being embarrassed by Nazem Kadri.

I liked it when you put more effort into your trolling.

Avatar
#85 Eulers
February 25 2013, 10:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

I was at the game tonight. Caught the last two periods in the 100 levels with scalper tickets and sat next to Rozsival's family. The Oil were lucky to steal a point. The hawks were playing 3 games in 4 days, but the Oil didn't have enough jump and fight to compete even in those circumstances. Even though I had many occasions to throw my hands in the air in frustration, I was still grinning like a kid in that very special arena!

Avatar
#86 bwar
February 25 2013, 10:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

How did we get a point tonight? Chicago really outplayed us all night. Hopefully Oilers play better for the rest of the roadtrip.

Avatar
#87 15w40
February 25 2013, 10:07PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Way to lock it down and get that point. I agree, that that looked like the game plan - get out of the United Center with the point and call it a successful outing.

Didn't look like there was much killer instinct there at all.

Avatar
#88 Walter Sobchak
February 25 2013, 10:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
DSF wrote:

Phhhttt.

Hopkins is being embarrassed by Nazem Kadri.

Easy, there DSF, you know RNH is a far better player then Kadri.

you can tell RNH is hurtin, question is how bad and why is he still playing.

Avatar
#89 DSF
February 25 2013, 10:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Easy, there DSF, you know RNH is a far better player then Kadri.

you can tell RNH is hurtin, question is how bad and why is he still playing.

Watch a couple of Leaf games and you'll change your mind.

Avatar
#90 Johe
February 25 2013, 10:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

@DSF

Firrg llookiiie ssstshejdi nmmwaaa po re stickkkdi doo?

Agfa poywqaiu tharen bukchy bum bum!

Avatar
#91 TDSM31
February 25 2013, 10:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Smytty's Jibs wrote:

I went down to Chi-tiown and had 3rd row seats for a Blackhawks game at the United Center during the season they won the cup, and I must say, those ice girls:

HUH-BUH HUBBA!!!!

They were EASILY the best thing about that game!!!

The Octane is a terrible idea, and whoever thought it up should be ashamed! I hope they see the error of their ways and adopt the rocket ice girls.

As a side note: the second best thing about the game was that Mike Grier was playing for the Sabres at the time and he laid an absolutely CRUSHING hit on somebody in the corner, and shattered the glass. It was incredible.

In what way are hot girls in skimpy outfits a terrible idea?? The closest you'll ever get to a rocket ice girl is sitting in your seat behind glass (like when I go to Amsterdam). A least with the Octane babes you can creep up close and even get your arm around them for a picture.

Avatar
#92 The Soup Fascist
February 25 2013, 10:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I liked it when you put more effort into your trolling.

Word, krush.

Avatar
#93 Eddie Shore
February 25 2013, 10:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Absolutely incorrect!!!!

Watch the play again, Petrys man goes behind, he follows like he should, it's Hossa who slips out to the slot.

When you watch the replay you will know without a doubt who's man Hossa is.

Petry got burned but he's line mates have to have there man, that didn't happen, it's a team game and they left Petry out to hang.

False. Sharp beat Petry off the wall and took the puck across the crease. Petry then went behind the net, by himself, and watched Sharp and Hossa out battle Smid who was left hung out to dry by himself. Bad, bad play by Petry and I'm sure he'd be the first to admit it.

Avatar
#94 TDSM31
February 25 2013, 10:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
The Don wrote:

Brutal plays by Petry. First he loses Sharp and then goes behind the net sniffing daisies. How about taking the guy in front of the net? No one but Petry to blame on that last one.

Concur. Might as well have Whitney out there. That was just brutal.

Avatar
#95 TDSM31
February 25 2013, 10:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Eddie Shore wrote:

False. Sharp beat Petry off the wall and took the puck across the crease. Petry then went behind the net, by himself, and watched Sharp and Hossa out battle Smid who was left hung out to dry by himself. Bad, bad play by Petry and I'm sure he'd be the first to admit it.

Yeah, what Mikey said.

Avatar
#96 michael
February 25 2013, 10:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
15w40 wrote:

Way to lock it down and get that point. I agree, that that looked like the game plan - get out of the United Center with the point and call it a successful outing.

Didn't look like there was much killer instinct there at all.

the Oilers cost themselves a point last week by "not" locking it down last week. I was much happier with the way they defended in the last 2 minutes or so. ES was awful. Other than the Hemsky chance in the first period we failed to show much ES. Yakupov's goal should reinvigorate the young man. He has been getting chances. Getting a goal will go along way to boost his confidence. The Hawks can defend like Pheonix. They just put a vise on you in the offensive zone. They are good. To get a point in Chicago was a feat.More than I hoped for and expected.

Dallas is next. The history recent and distant does not bode well for an Oilers win. the Oilers will need DD to steal a game in Big D.

Playing NK has been a boon that will pay dividends either at the trade deadline or as we progress further into this road trip.A rested DD is going to be necessary if we hope for any kind of road success.

Hall is back in BIG D. Tambo has Whitney sitting. Gologoski is in the Dallas dog house. A trade ripe for the making. Gologoski is the better player I think. Drop off Whitney and a pick and pick up Gologoski.

Why is Potter so special? What am I missing?

Why isn't Keith Yandle somewhere else other than Phoenix? And when will the NHL start thinking about moving that team to Saskatoon. Ready made and willing fan base ready to scoop up 15000 season tickets in a heartbeat for 3-5 years. They'd be printing the money by the truckload in Saskatchewan if Bettmen pulled a Winnipeg on them and allowed the Coyotes to be sold to a group out of Saskatchewan.

Seattle? Too many other sports to compete with. Portland is the better U.S. option.The way realignment looks a 34-36 team league is not out of the realm of possibility.

Columbus,Detroit,Quebec City, and Markham added out East. Add Seattle/Portland and Sakatchewan along with Winnipeg out west. Delete Phoenix by either suspending the franchise or relocation.

Expansion to increase market share and increase revenues. Adding 3 Canadian teams is like adding 75 million a year to the NHL coffers. Its money in the bank. Plus the expansion or relocation fees.Adding 4-6 teams adds close to 600 million to the bottom line over a 3-5 year span if the average expansion fee is 150 million. The money is there to be had. The NBA only relocates now. The NHL may be the only league that will expand in the next few years and that makes the NHL a very valuable commodity in terms of a major tenant and in terms of television sports entertainment revenue(eg.Comcast and the Flyers).

Avatar
#97 Time Travelling Sean
February 25 2013, 10:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

Kadri is better than RNH because Kadri has more points than RNH.

Avatar
#98 K_Mart
February 25 2013, 10:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

We got outplayed and deserved to lose. But we were 2 inches away from winning on Yak's 2nd PP attempt. So close. Not to mention Ebs falling over right as J Schultz feeds him the cross slot pass. Woops.

I'll take the one point. 10/18 pts on this trip would be good enough to stay in the hunt. Tonight's point gives us a chance to do exactly that.

Avatar
#99 K_Mart
February 25 2013, 10:54PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

If the oilers can trade Whitney and a pick for a #4-5 dman we are laughing.

Avatar
#100 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
February 25 2013, 10:56PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Oilfred wrote:

RNH>Toews (or will be very soon imo)

Yakupov has every chance to become as good as Kane

The other two are not comparables.

i like the oilers as much as the next guy, but are you high?

what on earth has RNH done to even get him into the realm of being in the conversation with Toews?

You know, the guy who captained the hawks to a cup win already (plus conn smythe winner)and was named the best forward in the 2010 olympics? you know, the tournament that featured all the best players in the world?

Comments are closed for this article.