The Oilers have been shutout the last two times they have faced a team’s backup goaltender. The Oilers have been a wretched team in afternoon tilts this season. Today they will play an afternoon game in Minnesota, a house of horrors within its own right, against a backup goaltender. We’re gonna need an exorcism if we want to see a win.
Edmonton is coming off a wildly disappointing 4-0 home loss to Nashville in a game where Edmonton outshot the opponent 46-23. Minnesota, meanwhile, shutout Toronto on Thursday as backup Alex Stalock takes over for the injured Devan Dubnyk.
The Oilers are looking for their fifth road victory in their last six tries this afternoon.
Cam Talbot returns to the net for Edmonton, while Alex Stalock handles the goaltending duties for Minnesota.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: I’m not sure what the hell Edmonton did on its most recent road trip, but I’d like to see that bottled up and brought back out this afternoon. All kidding aside, Minnesota is a banged up team and Edmonton can create chances if they use their speed and size. It sounds so damn simple, but the Oilers need to play their simple yet effective style of hockey to have a chance today. Just play your game guys.
Minnesota: Keep Edmonton to the perimeter. The Oilers are content to take shots from the point and from low-percentage areas. This isn’t an Oiler team that forces the issue for high quality chances. Give them the outside and they will take it. Should make for an easy afternoon for Alex Stalock, much like Juuse Saros had on Thursday night.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Cam Talbot returns to the lineup today and not a minute too soon. After missing seven games with a lower-body injury, Edmonton’s starter returns after a rough patch of goaltending from backup Laurent Brossoit. If Edmonton is going to, against the odds, turn this season around then they need good goaltending. I’ll be interested to see if Talbot can give it to them starting today.
Minnesota: Eric Staal has turned the clock back to 2008. The veteran forward has found a real nice home the last two years in Minnesota, and is playing at a high level once again. Staal has 12-15-27 in 31 games this season after posting 28-37-65 a year ago. Staal has always been a fun player to watch, so he’ll be worth keeping an eye on today.
Adam Larsson and Andrej Sekera are getting close, but neither is ready for a return to the lineup at this point in time. It’s possible both will be back within the next ten days, which would be a huge boost to this Edmonton team. We don’t know much about the lineup other than Talbot’s return, so we’ll go with the same group from Thursday.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Milan Lucic – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Michael Cammalleri
Jujhar Khaira – Leon Draisaitl – Ryan Strome
Anton Slepyshev – Mark Letestu – Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Oscar Klefbom – Matt Benning
Yohann Auvitu – Brandon Daivdson
The Wild are without star forward Zach Parise, but he is nearing a return to the lineup. Also out are Devan Dubnyk, who is week-to-week, and defender Jared Spurgeon. Tyler Ennis, acquired from Buffalo this summer, has recently been a healthy scratch but he returned to the lineup Thursday and scored. Ennis is expected to play today.
Minnesota Wild Lines:
Nino Niederreiter – Mikko Koivu – Mikael Granlund
Jason Zucker – Eric Staal – Zack Mitchell
Joel Eriksson-Ek – Matt Cullen – Charlie Coyle
Tyler Ennis – Daniel Winnik – Chris Stewart
Ryan Suter – Mathew Dumba
Jonas Brodin – Ryan Murphy
Mike Rielly – Nate Prosser
Another central opponent, another team the Oilers simply can’t beat. Minnesota swept the season series last year between these teams, as Edmonton went 0-1-2 against the Wild. Overall, Minnesota has gone 13-3-1 in their last 17 against the Oilers. The Wild are 12-4-1 in their last 17 games played.
Edmonton has been pitiful on home ice this season, but has been very respectable on the road. The Oilers are 8-7-2 on the road this season and have won four of their last five away from home. Their lone loss on the road was a 1-0 defeat six days ago in Toronto, a game where Edmonton dominated the home team but couldn’t solve the backup netminder.
Very rarely do you have a must win game in December, but this is one for Edmonton. An Oiler loss today will put them eleven points behind the Wild for the top Wild Card spot. They’d also sit nine points back of the final playoff spot having played one more game than Chicago (Wild Card) and ten points back of San Jose with two more games played (Divisional Playoff).
The Oilers never win afternoon games, never win in Minnesota and haven’t beaten a backup goaltender all season. This season hasn’t been one of bucking trends, so the pain continues. 4-1 Wild, who get goals from Staal, Koivu, Suter and Stewart. Garbage time goal for Letestu is Edmonton’s only tally on the afternoon.
Have fun folks, and don’t forget to spray some holy water on this team. God knows they need it.