October 27 2013 09:08AM
Tonight’s game features a tired Oilers team that lost a one-goal game to Phoenix last night against a rested Los Angeles squad that when last seen trounced those same Coyotes by a 7-4 score on Thursday.
What could possibly go wrong?
There has been no official word on lineup changes yet, but up front there are two items of note. First, Tyler Pitlick left on crutches after getting caught awkwardly by a hip check; hopefully any injury is less serious than the knee injury that sidelined him back in January. Second, Anton Lander was scratched by Oklahoma City last night, so it seems probable that he will be in the lineup for tonight’s game (to which I would imagine Linus Omark’s reaction is a mixture of happiness for his good friend and ‘I just scored FOUR GOALS in ONE GAME’).
Update: The Lander news is official.
With at least one probable lineup shift, I’m just going to guess here and update later once we get official word. I don’t imagine we’ll see major changes to the forward unit, and I’d guess that Nick Schultz draws in as fresh legs on the blue line.
- F1. Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
- F2. David Perron – Mark Arcobello – Ales Hemsky
- F3. Ben Eager – Boyd Gordon – Ryan Jones
- F4. Luke Gazdic – Will Acton – Anton Lander
- D1. Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
- D2. Anton Belov – Justin Schultz
- D3. Andrew Ference – Nich Schultz
Devan Dubnyk will almost certainly start.
Update: I still think Dubnyk starts, but this is interesting.
Coaching & Signs of the Apocalypse
I knew, what with all the talk of firing coaches and whatnot, that things were getting awfully grim. But I didn’t realize how low spirits were until I started noticing the reaction to DSF’s comments:
- -8/+25 on a comment saying the Oilers had mostly played Eastern Conference “cream puffs”
- -6/+18 on a comment saying Vancouver had all of Edmonton’s adversity but was playing great
- -4/+12 on a comment agreeing that Dallas Eakins was in over his head
- -4/+11 on a comment extolling the Canucks’ virtues
I won’t argue against the Canucks – they have handled some tough circumstances extremely well, and while like the Oilers they have mostly played ‘Eastern Conference cream puffs’ (8 of 13 games) they have also had a road-heavy schedule early. They just went 5-1-1 on a seven-game road-trip, which is insanely good.
What I will say is that it’s way too make Eakins the scapegoat, something that was being done in the comments here yesterday. Certainly, he’s done things I haven’t liked – he was awfully quick to haul last year’s leading goal-scorer out of the lineup, rotating a bunch of skilled first-time penalty killers into the PK all at the same time hasn’t worked well, and the Gazdic-Acton-Brown fourth line never appealed to me – but isn’t it abundantly clear at this point that firing the coach isn’t the solution?
Besides, we’ve seen this play out in reverse before. When Pat Quinn came in, the Oilers jumped out to a 6-2-1 start – one built on getting outshot badly but posting insane percentages. Quinn turned out to be probably the worst head coach in team history. This is the reverse situation: the Oilers have built a losing streak based on decent shot totals and terrible goaltending. I doubt it lasts either.
I can’t definitively say that Eakins is the solution to the problem, but the problem definitely predates his arrival.
Game day prediction: 3-0 Los Angeles.
Obvious game day prediction: Mark Arcobello will take three shots that, while all scoring chances, somehow catch the edge of a pad or bounce off the outside of the post or something like that.
Not-so-obvious game day prediction: In the third period, with the score still 2-0, Nail Yakupov will get a glorious opportunity from the right faceoff circle. Jonathan Quick will flash the leather, then immediately skate to centre ice with his arms stretched out in the air before sliding to his knees at the middle of the ice. Don Cherry will chuckle as he’s playing the tape of it on Coach’s Corner next Saturday.