For the first time in franchise history, the Edmonton Oilers will meet the Vegas Golden Knights tonight at Rogers Place. For the Oil, this is the first of a brief two game home-stand that will also see the Blues in town on Thursday before Edmonton’s team returns to the road on the weekend. The Oilers are returning from a successful 2-1-1 road trip on the east coast.
Edmonton is looking to bounce back after a pair of losses on the weekend, with their most recent result being a 2-1 shootout defeat in Washington on Sunday night. Meanwhile, Vegas has been off since Friday night when they knocked off the Winnipeg Jets at home.
Cam Talbot starts for the Oilers, while Maxime Legace goes for Vegas.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: It would be nice if Edmonton could bottle up Sunday night’s effort and bring that back tonight. Since that isn’t really a key to the game, I’ll say put pucks on net at every possible chance. While Legace is slowly adapting to the NHL, he’s in a really tough spot and isn’t really ready for this role right now. The Oilers have to try and exploit that by challenging him early and often.
Vegas: Stay true to your identity tonight. The Golden Knights have had success so far by being a team that works hard every night and refuses to give in. The Oilers usually struggle with teams like that, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Vegas can take two points tonight by simply working harder.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Milan Lucic played his best hockey of the season during Edmonton’s road trip out east, especially on the weekend. Has the big man woken up? It would be huge for the Oil if that were the case. This is the kind of game that Lucic has always excelled in, against hard working teams. I’ll be watching him closely tonight.
Vegas: James Neal is, without a doubt, Vegas’ best forward. The sniper has come out on fire this season and has been lethal for the Golden Knights thus far. Neal seemingly always haunted the Oilers when he was in Nashville, so it will be interesting to see what he produces tonight.
Jujhar Khaira replaced Jussi Jokinen on Sunday night and scored a goal, so he’ll remain in the lineup in place of Jokinen tonight. Anton Slepyshev is still on the IR, while Drake Caggiula is still out after blocking a shot a week ago in Brooklyn. Eric Gryba will sit for the second straight game as well.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jesse Puljujarvi
Jujhar Khaira – Ryan Strome – Iiro Pakarinen
Brad Malone – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Kris Russell
The Golden Knight lineup is essentially a collection of cast-offs, but don’t tell them that. They’ve played a hard game all season and are currently second in the Pacific Division. Interesting that two former Florida Panthers, Jonathan Marchessault and Riley Smith, are their top-line wingers. Jon Merrill will draw in for Luca Sbisa, while former Oilers David Perron and Brad Hunt will play.
Vegas Golden Knights Lines:
Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Riley Smith
David Perron – Erik Haula – James Neal
Oscar Lindberg – Cody Eakin – Alex Tuch
Will Carrier – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Tomas Nosek
Nate Schmidt – Jon Merrill
Brayden McNabb – Deryk Engelland
Colin Miller – Brad Hunt
This is just Edmonton’s sixth game against the west this season. The Oilers are 3-2-0 in those contests, and have won their last two, defeating Chicago and Dallas. Edmonton, who is 3-3-2 on the road this season, is a poor 3-6-0 at home and was shutout 4-0 last time they played on home ice. Vegas, meanwhile, is just 3-4-1 on the road this season.
It’s early to do a standings look, but Edmonton currently sits four points back of a playoff spot and a win tonight could get them a little closer to wild card position. A win could push them to within two points tonight, but a loss could see the Oilers fall to six points back. As American Thanksgiving bears down on us, this is a pretty big tilt.
Edmonton’s wacky schedule means that this is just their third divisional game of the season, and first since falling to Vancouver in game number two. Edmonton will see only one other Pacific Division team this month, and that is Arizona on the 28th at Rogers Place.
The Oilers have to be feeling a little bit better after going 2-1-1 on the road and playing pretty good hockey overall. Tonight they get a Vegas team that has cooled down a little bit, has injury issues, and hasn’t been the same on the road. It won’t be a cake walk by any means, but this is a winnable game for the Oil.
Edmonton does get that win, knocking off Vegas in the first ever meeting between the sides 5-2 as the offense breaks out. McDavid, Lucic, Letestu, Klefbom and Strome score for the Oil, while Neal and Lindberg light the lamp for Vegas.
If Edmonton wants to climb back into the playoff picture, they have to take care of business in conference. The Oil haven’t had many chances to do that just yet, but they get one tonight on home ice. This is a game that this team badly needs and, to be honest, really should have.
Enough with the moral victories, it is time to build this dream together and get back on track!