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Oilers @ Sabres Game 14 Preview

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Lose this one, and we could see a mutiny.

Zemgus Girgensons.
Zemgus Girgensons.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports


oilers logo black text

@

sabres
4-8-1, 9 points, .692 p/g Ranks 3-9-2, 8 points, .572 p/g
Western Conference - 14th Eastern Conference - 16th
28th P/G 30th
25th ST 30th
29th ES 30th
30th Goal 24th
5 PM MDT - SN 360
First Niagara Center
The opposing view: Die By The Blade

If The Oilers Don't Win This One, Things Could Get Mighty Interesting

The Oilers struck first last night when Boyd Gordon scored with five minutes remaining in the first period.  The Bruins would soon tie it up, but the Oilers later emerged with the lead once again when Mark Arcobello scored his third of the season early in the third period.

Then, the wheels fell off.  With just about nine minutes remaining in the third, the Oilers yielded three goals in 150 seconds to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead.  Milan Lucic would add a cherry to the top with an empty net goal late in the third to give Boston a 5-2 victory over your Edmonton Oilers.  After beginning the season 0-4-1, the OIlers peeled off a four game winning streak, only to go 0-4 since.  The Oilers are going to have to win something like 38 games in the remaining 68 in order to have a fighting chance at the playoffs.  We're still looking for win number 5.

Tonight, they face a Sabres team that might be historically bad.  Let's talk more about that.

The Oilers are saying

"We need to find a way to close games out.  We've got to find a way to do it.  You can't take a step back.  You can't be cautious.  We're a much better team when we're going after the other team."

That's Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivenscommenting after Edmonton's 5-2 defeat in Boston last night.

This was Boston's second goal. It's really a wonder they were ever in it at all.

The Opponent is saying

"Sometimes when you're pressing, you try to do too much.  You try to make those long passes, so one thing we tried to do is really simplify it and make those short passes"
That's Sabres coach Ted Nolan on simplifying his team's power play, which has been an absolutely woeful 2/46 on the season.

There's absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind that the Sabres have been built to fail.  Unlike the Oilers, which have been simply awful due to sheer managerial incompetence, the Sabres built a team under general manager Tim Murray's watch that is directly and intentionally meant to be egregiously poor by design.  Some quick numbers to support this theory:
  • the Sabres are last in the league in shots per game (averaging under 22, Calgary is 29th with 27.1)
  • the Sabres have managed to score just seventeen goals in fourteen games, averaging 1.07 goals per game (Florida is 29th with 1.46, which is also very bad)
  • the Sabres are allowing over 36 shots per game, last in the league
  • their power play has scored just twice all year.
The Sabres are betting (or at least hoping) that an entire season of this will result in them winning the Connor McDavid sweepstakes at the 2015 Draft Lottery.  Should the Sabres finish last in the leauge, they'll have a 20% chance at getting that first overall selection, though they'll be guaranteed no worse than the second overall pick.

As bad as the Sabres have been so far this year, the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets all have eight points, which is just as many as the Sabres.  And guess who has 9?  (It rhymes with "Yedmonton Foilers")

Have some of this
  • Is Taylor Hall fixed yet?  No?  Okay.
  • Keith Aulie made his regular season debut for the Oilers yesterday.  Aulie played sixteen minutes in last night's 5-2 loss to the Bruins, Martin Marincin was in the press box.  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.
  • Iiro Pakrainen made his NHL debut yesterday on a line with Mark Arcobello and David Perron.  He played less than six minutes.  To put that into perspective, Will Acton played nine minutes in Philadelphia.
  • Expect the Oilers to go back to Viktor Fasth in goal tonight.  Fasth played his first game in three weeks on Tuesday against the Flyers, it didn't end well for Fasth and the Oilers as Edmonton lost 4-1. Scrivens started last night, so I'd be surprised to see The Professor going twice in two nights.
  • Edmonton will once again be without Andrew Ference as he serves the last of his three game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Vancouver's Zack Kassian.
  • The Oilers will jet out of Buffalo after tonight's game to face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden this Sunday.  The chance to go without a point on this road trip is high should the Oilers be unable to take two in Buffalo today.  I can't imagine this team going 0-5 on this road trip wtihout some kind of a shakeup being made.
  • UNDER PRESSURE - Buffalo's goaltending hasn't been too awful, especially when you consider how many shots they've faced.  Michal Neuvirth has played in six games, and he's holding a .925 SV%. That's a pretty small sample, but it's also on a team that's allowing  the most shots in the league per game. The Sabres are expected to start Jhonas Enroth (.908 in 8 games) tonight.
  • PROJECTED LINES will be held off until this afternoon.  Look for Ryan's Game Preview later today for a full line scoop.