GDB Wild (6-3-2) @ Oilers (6-3-1): Seeking four straight + a 50/50 carryover

 

I never had a chance to recap our last game/the NHL news from this weekend. Anything happen?

Oh?

(Toronto, present day. Story narrated by Bob Cole):

After his heroic rise to Greatest Hockey Player of All Time status, Auston Matthews heads east in his asshole-blue Porsche while his rice-paper shoulder comfortably rests in a sling inside his obnoxiously humungous winter jacket. Suddenly, a flash catches his good-but-not-generational peripheral vision. “Was that a spaceship?” Auston wonders…

No! It was not a spaceship!

(Edmonton, also present day, narrated by me)

It was Connor McDaddy McDavid, and that flash was Connor officially surpassing a hopeless Auston Matthews, who watched as his 11 point lead diminish faster than the anatomical structure of his left shoulder.

But enough about Auston, I promise the rest of this game day blog will almost be all about the Oilers and not my selfishly bitter saltiness. The team deserves some recognition, after all. The Oilers have magically put themselves in a position to A) win four straight, and B) potentially jump into first place in the Pac-8. How did this happen, you ask?

Simple: Giving Draisaitl and McDavid a two-on-one in OT is like giving Thanos all five of those infinity stones. That’s metaphorically and literally.

Yes, the Oilers have mysteriously gone 6-1-1 in their last eight: Eight games against six teams, four of whom made the playoffs last year. I, like many, thought that going .500 in October would be a success for the Oilers given the length of their travel, the strength of their opposition, and the bullshittery of the organization. But with that win in Chicago, the Oilers guaranteed they’d win more games in October than they’d lose. What?

The numbers have been steadily improving, in particular, the team’s 5v5 success rate with 97 off the ice. That’s usually our Achilles heel, but not of late. No no no. Instead, some shit like six of our last seven 5v5 goals have come while Connor’s been on the bench. I repeat, what?

Tonight’s opponent comes to town for the second game of their seven game road trip. Normally it’s the end of the road trip when the team fades into mental oblivion but Minnesota had their twin city butts booted to the moon by Vancouver last night.

Tonight’s Opponent

Ugh.

Back in my more youthful days, I had the pleasure of attending many games at Rexall Place (RIP my love) when my family and I fell under the “tier one” umbrella. These games primarily occurred during the Northwest Division era. Back then, Minnesota would roll into town three or five times per year, and three to five times per year I’d leave the Northlands Concrete Jungle questioning my love of hockey. Watching these guys is like mainlining soda directly into your eyeballs. These guys are the fucking worst. They’ll never shed the boring label so long as they continue to be the Wild. It’s with them forever, like herpes. Change all the coaches you want, Minnesota, recycle every player in the league for all I care. It won’t matter. It’ll never matter. The stench of Jacques Lemaire will forever follow your franchise like a perpetuated fart.

Our Lineup

Combatting Minnesota’s painstakingly boring horrificness will be the following:

I haven’t had to change McDavid’s CHR all year. Nice.

Oh look who couldn’t find a team willing to take his contract:

Let’s give Kass the benefit of the doubt for the sake of continuing our growing positivity and say he does not mind the occasional healthy scratch and that it was never about changing teams but only his suit agent doing his job, or whatever. In which case… well also whatever. I don’t really care. Guy’s the 13th forward on our healthy roster, continues to take ill-timed dumbass penalties and is straight up a shell of what he was in the playoffs. If he wants to stay then stay. If he finds someone willing to take him then he can go. Do whatever, man. Regardless, I’m sure Jim Matheson and Bob Stauffer will praise his leadership and courage for stepping up in the face of adversity that his party literally triggered, all while simultaneously pounding the narrative that Jesse Puljujarvi, whose press-box stapled ass skates with kids at the ODR for the fuck of it, needs to do more to be a team guy. Leadership. Intangibles.

Connor’s going to see a whole mess of Suter tonight so here’s to hoping Kailer Yamamoto gets those 5v5 numbers up because I need the Connor McNugent-Hopkins express like Auston needs physiotherapy.

If you ever needed a case for “trying something new despite some tangible success” look no further than our bottom pair. Jason Garrison continues to play NHL minutes despite all the evidence (statistically and eye-testingly) pointing to the fact that he’s clearly finished. One period this year, JG was on the ice (5v5) for 13 shot attempts against and zero (!!) shot attempts for. He will continue to be dress in Todd’s ongoing effort to see whether or not Oscar Klefbom can functionally play an entire NHL game.

Our other options include a presumably soon-to-be re-assigned Evan Bouchard, an injured Ethan Bear, and a healthy Kevin Gravel/Keegan Lowe. I’m still leaning towards the injured Ethan Bear.

Iceman time.

Minnesota’s Lineup

Their top two lines are actually pretty good. Whatever.

As mentioned, Connor will see a lot of Suter and Dumba. There are only eight teams in the league that Connor does not average a point-per-game against. These guys are one of them. In fact, it’s one of his lowest points-per-game totals out of all opposing teams, with a measly seven points in nine career games against the Wild. This is a team that will do whatever it takes to siphon the fun out of hockey and the evidence is right there in Connor’s splits. This goes without saying, but tonight I really hope Connor pummels Minnesota so hard that they make the executive decision to pack their shit and move to Texas.

Greg Pateryn’s name rung a bell:

Oh, yes. Last year, moments after a whistle, Greg decided to pulverize an unsuspecting Connor McDavid (who was only “unsuspecting” because, I repeat, the whistle blew the play dead, but whatever and stuff). Greg’s on his third team in three years because he has cement for feet. Fuck Greg Pateryn with all of Jimmy Butler’s trade requests.

Stalock gets the start in net. He’s 2-2 all time against the Oilers with a 2.02 GAA and a 0.928 SV%. This year, however, he’s 1-1 with a 3.44 GAA and a 0.879 SV% so let’s light his world up.

Other Thoughts

Just some other things that deserve our attention before heading into the prediction:

1) Last night, this year’s Vegas Golden Knights aka the goddamn Vancouver Canucks, who frustratingly refuse to be bad, blew out Minnesota in front of approximately 150 people in Vancouver. Paid attendance had the arena at 87 per cent capacity but the dozens upon dozens of blatantly empty lower bowl rows alluded to the still-ongoing battle between Rog Jr.’s disgustingly burgundy seats and the butts of Canucks fans; specifically, those butts not wanting to be in those seats. Minnesota heads into the Thunderdome tonight where they’ll face a growingly optimistic Oilers fan base seeking their first four game win streak since December of last year, which brings me to my next point:

2) The only two things preventing our capacity Rogers Sr. crowd from audibly dismantling the Minnesota Wild are: A) Minnesota’s fun vacuum of a hockey system, and B) that piece of shit life-sucking video we play before puck drop. The video, which displays some dumbass pickup truck driving in the middle of goddamn nowhere and the clips of Darnell Nurse practicing his non-existent one-timer while some deep-voice buffoon narrates a bunch of garbage, is the anti-hero to our rather surprising rise back to relevancy. We could inject that crowd with a figurative mountain of Adderall before puck drop, igniting that legendary Oilers crowd fire that almost an entire generation of Oilers fans have seen maybe once or twice through hard rock and multiple clips of Connor dissecting opposing defensemen. Instead, we willingly choose to monologuingly put the crowd into a medically-induced coma right before puck drop, which segues into my final point:

3) Hank body-bagged this man:

Richie from Halifax, who was suffering from post-Auston depression and who was evidently unaware that all his family and friends have jobs in our province, decided to take a run at ‘Berta while Hank circled Twitter like a Great White Shark. We have two rules in Oil Country:

Rule 1: No matter what, Jesse always fucks, and;

Rule 2: You don’t come at ‘Berta while Hank’s on security duty.

I imagine Richie was sitting there in his Halifax shanty waiting for the catch of the day to swim it’s way into his net, not knowing that ya boy Hank launched a Scud missile from the other side of the country.

The Oilers army is quite literally that: an army. We can chirp ourselves and our team all we want but the minute other people talk shit is the minute we collectively devour their corpse like a pack of starving dire wolves. God I miss Hank.

Prediction

Oh and the LIVE blog on Saturday was actually really successful, which shocked the hell out of me, but I’m down. I dig it. I’ll give it a go again tonight, for you, my favourite people on the internet. One love, ENS Country.

Oilers win 4-1. Connor gets two goals.


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