While playoff positions and matchups aren't locked in statistically, it's certainly starting to feel that way.
AS per MoneyPuck.com, the visiting Edmonton Oilers have a 98.3% of making the playoffs; their recent stretch of play of late has helped buoy that number. 7-2-1 in their last ten games, they're picking up steam at precisely the right time. To no ones surprise, it's their offense — lead by dynamos Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid — pushing the team forward. Dating back to mid-March, they sport the league's best offense averaging 4.33 goals per game and have the ability to blow their opponent out of the water on any given night. McDavid has seven goals and ten assists in his last matches. Draisaitl isn't far behind with nine goals and six assists in his previous ten games.
If you find yourself asking why this team isn't a juggernaut, you must be new here — which is fine! — because the Edmonton Oilers are going to... Oil? Edmonton?
Oil all over the place.
They love to roll out Cody Ceci and the ghost of Duncan Keith as a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. Mike Smith is certainly a goalie, as is Mikko Koskinen. Derrick Brassard exists. The defense is mediocre, the goaltending is questionable, secondary scoring is nonexistent, and the Edmonton Oilers are forever a team built around two superstars and held together with scotch tape and bad decisions from management.
At least the coaching change they made has had positive impacts, as they are 19-7-3 since they fired Dave Tippett into the sun and replaced him with Jay Woodcroft, with their defense getting results and ranking 8th in the league with 2.86 GA/GP. If this is the real thing and not just a coaching change bump, they aren't an attractive opponent in the playoffs.
As for the Minnesota Wild, everything is as it was. They are winning — and losing — in dramatic, close finishes seemingly every night when they aren't pounding the Los Angeles Kings with six unanswered goals.
Cam Talbot is set to return to the net after Marc-André Fleury got the last start. Jon Merrill will miss his sixth straight game with an upper-body injury from a shot block against the Pittsburgh Penguins back on March 31st.
With three goals and an assist in his last four games, Kirill Kaprizov is still on a tear and will look to continue quietly eviscerating opponents. He's only been held off the scoresheet twice in the last 13 games and five multi-point games in that same span. He's beautiful, and he's ours.
After the return of Matt Boldy, everything else is as is in the lineup, although Matt Dumba is still out due to injury.
The Wild have won the previous two matchups against the Oilers with a combined score of 11-4, so this should be good.
Puck drop is 7 p.m.. See you in the comments.
Boldy looked good in his return with two points against the Kings. Can his line with Kevin Fiala and Frederick Gaudreau feast on the Oiler's bottom lines?
This will be a warmup game for the post-season, where depth becomes more important than ever. With the GREEF squad likely being called upon the lock up McDavid's line and Kirill's group getting the Draisaitl unit (or vice versa), will Kevin and Co. run roughshod through the rest of the lineup?
Can GREEF limit the dynamic duo?
With Woodcock keeping Draisatl and McDavid separate for the most part, it means picking your poison if you are running hard matchups. Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno will be drawing one of the two. Can they neutralize their matchup?
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