The Oilers are back home for a 5 game stint, beginning with a visit from the Nashville Predators tonight.
These teams could not be farther apart in terms of success this season. The Preds are coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Oilers are looking at a year in which their best month has a record of 7-5-1.
This season truly can’t be finished soon enough.
Keys to the Game
- Score first. Score often. Keep the puck with Connor or Leon because there’s not much else to hope for.
- Stay out of the box and try not to force the Preds to take penalties either. The home penalty kill is still real bad, and the power play isn’t much better.
- Force the Oilers to take penalties. It’s a strategy that has worked for most other teams in the league this season.
- Honestly, keep the Oilers to the perimeter. They can’t seem to get too many pucks through from the outside, so it’s easy to defend.
Players to Watch
- Pontus Aberg scores his first point as an Oiler last game. There’s upside to that acquisition, so hopefully management gets a chance to see what he’s capable of over this last stretch.
- Ethan Bear is set to make his NHL debut tonight. It’ll be nice to see him get a chance, and with the season all but over it’s pretty low stakes for him. Hopefully he has a good game.
- PK Subban is the most exciting Predator to watch on a regular basis. It’s been made pretty obvious that he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s hard not to pay attention when he’s on the ice.
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Anton Slepyshev
Mike Cammalleri – Leon Draisaitl – Ty Rattie
Pontus Aberg – Ryan Strome – Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula – Jujhar Khaira – Iiro Pakarinen
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell (?)
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Andrej Sekera – Ethan Bear
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Ryan Hartman
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Scott Hartnell – Nick Bonino – Calle Jarnkrok
Austin Watson – Colton Sissons – Viktor Arvidsson
Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm – PK Subban
Alexei Emelin – Yannick Weber
There’s an infinitesimal chance the Oilers make the playoffs, but that involves winning every game in regulation, and that doesn’t seem likely.
Instead, it’s time to look to the future, and folks, it isn’t pretty. After Tuesday’s game where Matt Benning took a cross check into the boards from Evander Kane, and no one other than Benning jumped to defend him, there seems to be a consensus that certain players get a lot more latitude with respect to ice time vs production.
It’s uncertain whether or not anything will change with regards to deployment, but with the season all but lost it can’t hurt to mix things up a little bit.
There are 6 million reasons why some players will never be healthy-scratched. By the same token there are 31 reasons why they should.