Coming off their best offensive performance of the season, the Edmonton Oilers are looking for their second back-to-back set of wins this season, a feat they didn’t achieve until a week ago tonight in New Jersey. Standing in the way of that? The St. Louis Blues, who meet the Oilers tonight for the first of three times.
This is the second and final game of a short trip home for the Oilers, who start another lengthy road trip this weekend in Dallas. The Oilers will be looking for their fifth victory on home ice this season in game number eleven at Rogers Place for the team.
Cam Talbot starts for the Oilers, while Jake Allen goes for St. Louis.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Bring the physicality tonight. I thought the Oilers were really engaged in their last two games and a big reason was because Edmonton was hitting the opposition like there was no tomorrow. Say what you will about hits and such, but the Oilers seem to play better when they are engaged physically. The Blues are a big and tough team, so it’s a must tonight.
St. Louis: The Blues have to do a better job of protecting Allen tonight by keeping the Oilers to the outside offensively. Allen struggled in Calgary on Monday night and is a player that really can ride the emotional roller-coaster of a season. Let him see the puck early and get back into his rhythm.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Michael Cammalleri makes his Oiler debut tonight and will be skating on the third line while taking up a role on team’s second powerplay unit. On the anniversary of scoring his first career NHL goal (in Edmonton nonetheless!) Cammalleri will play his first game for his new team. These stories write themselves sometimes. I’ll be watching the new number 13 closely tonight.
St. Louis: Boy, do I ever love watching Vlad Tarasenko do his thing. One of the NHL’s best goal scorers comes to town tonight and he’s playing some awesome hockey, with ten goals already on the season. Players like this usually have a way of burning the Oilers, and I suspect Tarasenko will be no different tonight. As always, keep your eyes on the opposing team’s star.
As mentioned above, Mike Cammalleri will make his Edmonton debut tonight in place of Jujhar Khaira on the club’s third line. Khaira, who played quite well in the last two games, was banged up late in Tuesday’s win over Vegas and will miss tonight’s game. The rest of the lineup is expected to remain the same.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Patrick Maroon – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jesse Puljujarvi
Michael Cammalleri – Ryan Strome – Iiro Pakarinen
Drake Caggiula – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Kris Russell
The Blues are slowly getting healthier, as Alex Steen is back in the lineup. Since the last time these teams met, the Blues added Brayden Schenn from Philadelphia and he’s expected to center their top line tonight. The club also added Oskar Sundqvist over the summer from Pittsburgh in a draft night trade.
St. Louis Blues Lines:
Jaden Schwartz – Brayden Schenn – Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka – Paul Stastny – Alex Steen
Magnus Paajarvi – Oskar Sundqvist – Dmitrij Jaskin
Scottie Upshall – Kyle Brodziak – Chris Thorburn
Joel Edmundson – Alex Pietrangelo
Carl Gunnarsson – Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn – Robert Bortuzzo
The Oilers swept the season series between these two a year ago, including winning the lone game at Rogers Place last October. Overall, the Oil have taken the last four decisions from the Blues in head-to-head matchups dating back to March of 2016.
As mentioned above, this is the first of three meetings between the sides this season. Meeting number two will take place next Tuesday night in St. Louis and will be Edmonton’s first US National TV appearance (NBCSN) of the season.
Edmonton has only won two games in a row once this season, accomplishing the feat last Tuesday and Thursday with wins over the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils, both coming in overtime. Edmonton has only played the western conference six times this season, but the Oil are 4-2-0 in those matchups. The club is 1-1-0 against the central division thus far.
The Blues had a helluva start and are certainly a good hockey team, but they’ve cooled down a little bit in their last few games, including a tough loss in Calgary on Monday night. The Oilers are 3-1-1 in their last five games and have been playing better hockey as of late. I’ll also say I think the Oil matchup favorably against the Blues.
Combine all that and you get my optimistic prediction that the Oilers take care of business tonight and double up the Blues 4-2 for their second victory of the week. Edmonton will get goals from Cammalleri, McDavid, Kassian and Auvitu while the Blues respond with tallies from Steen and Brodziak.
Edmonton is still four points back of a playoff spot, but they can really put some pressure on with a victory tonight. Beating the Blues would draw them closer to the .500 mark and to the playoff cutline, and it would give Edmonton some actual confidence moving forward. Heading on the road, where Edmonton has played well, with some wins in their pocket would be huge.
The times have been better in Edmonton lately, a win tonight and the good times can start rolling a bit. Lord knows this hockey team needs them to.