The Edmonton Oilers are back in town tonight after their best road trip of the season. The club went 2-1-0 but dominated in all three contests and easily could have gone 3-0-0 if not for some sensational goaltending ruining their night in Toronto last Sunday. The Oilers now get a stretch of games against the west as they look to keep the good times rolling.
Tonight Edmonton gets a shot at the Nashville Predators for the first of three on the season. Edmonton was swept by Nashville a season ago, losing all three meetings between the sides. In fact, coming into tonight, the Oilers have dropped nine straight games against Nashville.
Laurent Brossoit makes his seventh straight start for Edmonton, while Juuse Saros is expected to start on the second half of a back-to-back for Nashville.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: The Oilers played a fast and physical style on the road and it allowed them to control the game. Tonight’s key to the game for Edmonton is to keep playing within the system and move your feet. Nashville played last night, meaning if Edmonton plays their game they can control the pace on a tired Predator squad. Do that, and two points can be theirs.
Nashville: Test Brossoit early and often. Sure, he played better on the road trip, but Edmonton’s starter is still surrendering poor goals on a nightly basis and I still don’t think he looks very comfortable back there in net. Get a few shots on him early, especially high quality ones, and see if LB is up to the task. History suggests he won’t be.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: He’s healthy and you get the feeling he is about to reign over the NHL’s scoring race once again. That’s right, Connor McDavid appears to have returned. Number 97 went off on Tuesday night in Columbus, and he looks healthy after a bout with the flu. I’ll be interested to see how he looks against arguably the best defense in the NHL. I think McDavid is getting ready for a massive stretch of games. Was Tuesday the start?
Nashville: Matt Duchene was the headliner in the three team trade a few weeks ago, but Kyle Turris and the Nashville Predators look like the real winners here. Nashville is 11-2-2 since acquiring Turris and they look like the NHL’s best team right now. This will be my first look at Turris with the Preds, so I’ll be keeping a close eye on him.
Brandon Davidson has looked very good in his three games as an Oiler since being claimed off waivers from Montreal. Tonight, he’ll make his home debut in his second stint with Edmonton. The Oilers will keep the same lineup as the one that defeated Columbus on Tuesday, so Eric Gryba will take a seat along with Drake Caggiula and Nathan Walker.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Mike Cammalleri
Jujhar Khaira – Leon Draisaitl – Ryan Strome
Anton Slepyshev – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Brandon Davidson
Nashville got a boost last night as Scott Hartnell and Ryan Johansen both returned from the IR in the club’s 7-1 victory in Vancouver. Ryan Ellis is back skating, but he’s still in Nashville recovering from injury and obviously will not play tonight. I mentioned above that Saros will start, but that is pure speculation on my part after Pekka Rinne played last night.
Nashville Predators Lines:
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Filip Forsberg – Calle Jarnkrok – Pontus Aberg
Nick Bonino – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Scott Hartnell – Colton Sissons – Austin Watson
Roman Josi – Mattias Ekholm
Alexei Emelin – P.K. Subban
Matt Irwin – Yannick Weber
As mentioned above, Nashville is 9-0-0 in their last nine against the Oilers. On top of that, Nashville leads the all-time series by a mark of 39-23-3-3. That includes a 19-11-0-3 edge all-time for the Preds in Edmonton. The last time Edmonton knocked off Nashville? March 18th, 2014. On that night Edmonton won 5-1, their third straight win in the series at the time.
Don’t look now, but here comes Connor McDavid. After torching the Blue Jackets for four points (1-3-4), McDavid finds himself third in NHL scoring with 39 points in 31 games. McDavid sits three points behind the leaders, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay.
Good news on the injury front, finally, for the Oilers. Both Andrej Sekera and Adam Larsson took the morning skate today, and both are expected to return to the lineup soon. On top of that, it seems like goaltender Cam Talbot could be back on Saturday against Minnesota. If not then, Monday appears to be a potential target against San Jose.
The Oilers are playing much better hockey right now, but Nashville is arguably playing the best hockey in the NHL right now and they have even more momentum than Edmonton does. Not only that, but Nashville has owned the Oil lately and they play a style that Edmonton struggles with.
So, when you combine all of that, you get my 4-2 prediction for Nashville. Hartnell, Subban, Arvidsson and Turris score for the victors, while McDavid and Kassian respond for Edmonton in a futile effort.
Here’s to being wrong tonight…..we hope.