Game Day Blog 50/82: The Quest for 24-8-1 Begins Now, Avalanche @ Oilers

Ladies and gentlemen, we have some hockey games to win. Yesterday, I mentioned the team must go at least 24-8-1 in their last 33 in order to have a hope at making the playoffs. Well, the final 33 starts today. We have 99 periods of regulation hockey remaining, and I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to waste another year of Connor McDavid by missing the playoffs. Even if we make it and get pummeled by Vegas or San Jose or Nashville or… Calgary or Winnipeg… I’d rather be invited to the dance than sit at home and watch Netflix while 16 other teams blow up your Insta feed with pictures and boomerangs and stories about how awesome the post season party it. I’m also totally kidding about Calgary and Winnipeg, I’d rather die.

The Quest for 24 begins tonight. Let’s goddamn go.

Tonight’s Opponent: Colorado Avalanche

Their Record: 27-18-4, 58 points

They have 33 games left and they’ve already racked up five more wins and 10 more points than they had all of last year. Recently, Colorado piled together 10 straight wins. If they can do it, literally anybody can. Hope, Edmonton. Hope.

Our Record: 22-24-3, 47 points

Okay we have five less wins than these guys and I’ve already mentioned that they won 10 in a row just, like, basically last week. It’s not like these two teams are night and day from each other, we’re relatively in the same ballpark minus extremely good fortune and semi-competent managing.

What do the Avs have? OH YA BABY!!!

AND WHO SAID COLORADO DIDN’T WIN THE FIRST OVERALL PICK?? But enough about the Avs and our boy Yak (for now, more later). I want to briefly remember the masterpiece that was their diabolically miserable 2016-17 year. Let’s remember that just three short years ago, the Buffalo Sabres intentionally tried to lose every game and they still managed to muster six more points than last year’s Avalanche. We’d like to believe that the Avs began their 2016-17 quest by trying make the playoffs but they also willingly dressed Andreas Martinsen in 55 games so who knows? At one point, Colorado won four of 30 games as part of an elaborate and magically putrid five month period of hockey that saw them only won 13 total games. Because Oilers, the draft lottery drastically changed this season to discourage the possibility of one team picking first overall every year. As such, the 48 point Avalanche picked 4th.

And the best part? Somehow, in an insanely backwards turn of events, nobody relevant lost their job after that historically laughable season. Their head coach is still something called a Jared Bednar – former defenseman of the ECHL’s powerhouse Huntington Blizzard. Bednar was gifted the keys to this sinking container ship after the franchise’s greatest goalie ever relieved himself of the head coaching duties by essentially waiting for the entire management department to go on vacation before he took the only parachute and jumped off of this mile high dumpster fire.

And yet, they’re not bad? How?

Seriously, how? Look at their second and third lines:

What in God?

The fuck is this team doing over .500? Their second like has MATT NIETO on it. Until about five minutes ago I could have sworn he still played for the Sharks. It’s like Sakic took all the 20 point players from every team in the league and mushed them together to create a depth structure so atrociously horrifying that Stephen King would soil his shorts at first glance. The Avs are what Vegas was supposed to be except they weren’t cornered into taking players via an expansion draft; they actually went out and gave these people money/gave their former teams an exchange in assets because they actually wanted them. Why sign a couple A- or B+ players when you can get a whole shit load of C players for basically the same thing? Peter Chiarelli GUSHES over that logic. Does anybody actually watch these guys? How they hell are they good?

Oh, Nathan MacKinnon. Nate Mac is one of two players with over 60 points this year and is carrying the Avs like he’s carrying my fantasy team, and that Mikko Rantanen kid can do that hockey well too (49 in 49). MacKinnon had the bejesus knocked out of him on Tuesday night in Vancouver, so he’ll be out of the lineup tonight. If I’m Colorado, only one man can take that spot on the first line:

#YakWithSecks

What do we have? Blockbuster alert:

The end of the Eddie Pasquale era in Edmonton as we’ve sent the alleged goalie packing to Tampa (to Syracuse). Tough to see a guy like E-Money get dealt like that, but the move clears up the necessary roster spot so we can acquire Mike Hoffman for Tony Slepyshev and a 2nd, Ivan Barbashev for Patty Maroon, and Radko Gudas for a 2019 3rd. Hell yes. Thanks for the memories, Eddie.

Cam is ill… therefore:

He’s back. He who went unclaimed by 30 teams yet still felt blindsided by the waiver move despite doing a lot of the suck. On one hand, this is great for the local economy (the Pint’s Thursday revenue just pretty much doubled for one night only). On the other hand, this stinks, because the guy who just basically guaranteed that we’ll make the playoffs has a suddenly ill-timed flu. Big Al gets the call. He’s 3-1 lifetime against Colorado, with a 2.43 GAA and a 0.927 SV%.

Lines at yesterday’s practice looked like this:

Look at all the wingers playing centre!

Kassian was absent for family reasons but is expected to go tonight. My guess is Pakman comes out but this is Todd so it could be Jesse out and Iiro will be elevated to the first power play unit along with Drake Caggiula. Anyone’s guess.

As far as the blue line is concerned, Adam Larsson will not play again tonight because of a family matter. Todd had this to say at practice:

“He’s not going to be available,” said head coach Todd McLellan, who obviously isn’t going into any of the details of his player’s situation. “He has a family thing going on. This is the last time we’ll talk about it out of respect for Adam’s family and his need for some time and space right now. He won’t play.”

Likely means Benning stays in, Davidson will also (obviously) stay in. Hopefully we do not see any seven defenseman shenanigans tonight.

Did you know? The Avs actually almost signed Jared Cowen (!! LOL) this summer:

And people were excited about it?

“Loose”… goddamn man, it would have been too perfect. Yes, thee Jared Cowen. This could have been the ultimate match made in some dystopian hellscape. Jared Cowen retiring from his two year sabbatical to play for the 48 point Avalanche would have been the ultimate once in a lifetime opportunity to show the entire State of Colorado what it’s like to be the only thing more offensively ineffective than Trevor Siemian.

Prediction: Oilers win 6-5. Jesse with two.

Connor with three.

Yak with four <3: