It’s the fourth game of a five game home-stand for the Edmonton Oilers, who return from the All-Star break after a week off. The club is 2-1-0 so far on this stretch of home games, and can clinch a successful stretch with a victory tonight over the Avs.
The Oilers swept the season series between these teams a year ago, taking all three contests. This is the first off three meetings this year, all of which will take place in the month of February. These teams are going to get real familiar with each other real quick.
Al Montoya makes his first start for the Oilers as Cam Talbot battles the stomach bug, while Jonathan Bernier gets the nod for the visitors.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Attack early. The Oilers have been off for a week straight and usually don’t do well coming out of breaks. Attack Colorado early and get back into the swing of things ASAP. The Avs had a great stretch throughout January, but I’m still not sold on this team or its defensive group. The Oilers can catch them off guard.
Colorado: Use your speed. Colorado is quietly one of the fastest teams in the NHL and uses that to their advantage most nights. Edmonton, despite having the fastest player in the world, is a slower team, especially on defense. If the Avs can use their speed to their advantage, they should be able to create ample offensive looks.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Al Montoya is making his first start as an Oiler tonight. He’s played quite well in relief, beating the Arizona Coyotes prior to the bye week. Even though he committed a cardinal sin by not speaking to the trench battling Ryan Rishaug of TSN, I’ll still be watching Montoya closely tonight. Can he give the Oilers a strong outing and further gain the confidence of this team?
Colorado: Alexander Kerfoot signed with the Avs this off-season and has been a great addition for the club to this point. He’s currently skating on the team’s first line and has emerged as a legit NHL option up front for a team that badly needed young solutions after last year’s debacle. Kerfoot doesn’t get a ton of love, but he’s a damn good player and will be worth your attention tonight.
Cam Talbot is battling the stomach bug and won’t be available in any capacity tonight. Laurent Brossoit was recalled from Bakersfield and he’ll backup Montoya this evening. Adam Larsson will miss his second straight game as he deals with a family issue, while Mark Letestu is likely to rejoin the lineup after being a healthy scratch last Thursday.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Mike Cammalleri – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Jujhar Khaira – Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Strome – Drake Caggiula
Iiro Pakarinen – Mark Letestu – Anton Slepyshev
Darnell Nurse – Brandon Davidson
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Andrej Sekera – Kris Russell
The Avs will be without MVP candidate Nathan MacKinnon tonight. MacKinnon was hurt on Tuesday night in Vancouver, and is expected to miss the next two to four weeks according to Colorado coach Jared Bednar. Samuel Girard, the big piece from the Matt Duchene deal, will be in the lineup on defense tonight.
Colorado Avalanche Lines:
Gabriel Landeskog – Alexander Kerfoot – Mikko Rantanen
Colin Wilson – Tyson Jost – JT Compher
Blake Comeau – Carl Soderberg – Matt Nieto
Gabriel Bourque – Dominic Toninato – Nail Yakupov
Nikita Zadorov – Erik Johnson
Patrik Nemeth – Samuel Girard
Anton Lindholm – Tyson Barrie
The Oilers have won four of their last five games, and tonight get their first crack at the Colorado Avalanche this season. As mentioned above, the teams will begin and end their season series with three games in the month of February. Two of those games, including tonight, will take place at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
With Adam Larsson out for personal reasons, the Oilers are turning to Brandon Davidson on the the blueline. There is no timeline for Larsson, who also missed last Thursday’s game against the Flames. The Oilers are off all weekend, not playing again until Monday night, so there is a chance things settle down and Larsson can return then.
The Avs assigned goalie Andrew Hammond to Belleview (AHL) earlier today, activating Semyon Varlamov from the IR. Varlamov will serve as the backup to Jonathan Bernier tonight. The club also recalled AJ Greer from San Antonio yesterday, but it appears he’ll be a healthy scratch tonight.
Colorado has been sensational as of late, but have dropped three straight coming into tonight. They fell 4-2 to Montreal on 1/23, 3-1 to St. Louis on 1/25 and 4-3 in overtime to Vancouver on Tuesday night. The Oilers have won four out of five, and have had success against the Avs as of late.
The Oilers take this one 3-0, as Al Montoya proves you don’t have to talk to the media to play well.