The Oilers are back in action tonight, taking to the ice in Buffalo to face Jack Eichel and the Sabres. After being embarrassed by the Blues on Tuesday night, the Oilers put together a competent effort on Wednesday in Detroit, pushing back at their critics from the night before. It wasn’t perfect but with all forwards except Ryan Nugent-Hopkins registering a point, the team looked a little more poised and balanced out there.
Maybe it’s a sign of things to come.
Keys to the Game
- Keep doing what they did on Wednesday. The first period was sloppy but the second was as complete a period as the Oilers have put together all season, outshooting the Red Wings 14-3.
- Stay out of the box. This is why.
- Get lots of shots on net and hope that Laurent Brossoit (who gets the start) is rusty.
- Force the Oilers to take penalties (see above).
Players to Watch
- Connor McDavid. He had a bit of a rough start on this road trip, but he looked a lot better on Wednesday night. One thing that was a little concerning was his on-ice presence for even-strength goals against. He’s the best player on the team, and isn’t supposed to be THAT guy, you know?
Serious question: in the first 2 games of the trip McDavid was on the ice for 25 EV mins & EIGHT goals against. Is this not worthy of comment? Or is he simply above reproach?
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) November 23, 2017
- Jack Eichel. He’s a good hockey player, and I think that in any other draft year there would have been a much bigger deal made of him. It’s unfortunate that the Sabres are as bad as they are, because we’d hear more about them if they were better.
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Drake Caggiula
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl
Jujhar Khaira – Ryan Strome – Jesse Puljujarvi
Michael Cammalleri – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom – Kris Russell
Matt Benning – Yohann Auvitu
Evander Kane – Jack Eichel – Jason Pominville
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart
Zemgus Girgensons – Johan Larsson – Kyle Criscuolo
Jordan Nolan – Jacob Josefson – Kyle Okposo
Marco Scandella – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe – Wiktor Antipin
Nathan Beaulieu – Justin Faulk
They’re not out of the woods yet. They’re a little closer to the edge of the trees but nowhere near safety yet. At some point you’d have to think that they’ll figure out how to make puck luck go their way, but that game in Detroit isn’t really the start. The Wings are old and slow in comparison to years past and the Oilers were able to capitalize on their weaknesses. This stretch of games before the end of November is crucial, and they can’t get complacent.
Here’s hoping they can turn it around, starting tonight.