After their first loss of the preseason on Sunday night, the Oilers return home to take on the Vancouver Canucks in the second of four home preseason contests this month. It’ll be the second and final meeting this preseason between the Western Canadian rivals.
The Oilers made another round of cuts yesterday, sending Cooper Marody to Bakersfield while cutting Scottie Upshall from his PTO. In addition, the Oilers waived Keegan Lowe, Kevin Gravel and Brad Malone, who all cleared waivers earlier today and who will all report to Bakersfield.
Last Time Out:
The Oilers suffered their first loss of the preseason by a score of 5-3 on Sunday night. Kailer Yamamoto impressed while scoring two goals on the night, while Ethan Bear fired home his second on the powerplay.
The Oilers only dressed two NHL defenders, as Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning made the trip while the rest of the NHL’ers stayed back in Edmonton. The young and inexperienced group made a number of mistakes, and left goalie Mikko Koskinen out to dry.
Koskinen wasn’t great, but I feel like he is taking more heat than he deserves. Again, he wasn’t great, but he was left out to dry far too often by his defensive group. Koskinen likely gets another look this week as he fights for the backup job behind Cam Talbot.
In addition to Yamamoto, I thought Ryan McLeod looked good once again. He’s awfully close to earning an entry-level contract and potentially a handful of games to start the NHL season. Once again, Jesse Puljujarvi looked strong and confident, while Tobias Rieder didn’t look great to my eye. He hasn’t had the best preseason showing.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tobias Rieder – Jujhar Khaira – Jesse Puljujarvi
Alex Chiasson – Kyle Brodziak – Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
Kris Russell – Evan Bouchard
Interesting to see Yamamoto on the second line with Lucic and Draisaitl. Yamo has made an excellent case for a roster spot once again this camp, and I think this is Todd McLellan telling the young forward that he has done enough to now be in position to win a job. A good outing with this line would go a long way.
Ryan Strome is day-to-day with a groin issue, but I think these are the likely wingers for line three on opening night. Jesse Puljujarvi has had a terrific camp and looks like he has taken a step forward, while third line duty likely suits the skill set of Rieder better than a top-six role.
Defensively, is it possible these are the starting six on opening day? If so, there are some question marks. Can Benning step up and handle a top-four role? I like him, but he failed in that spot a year ago. Can Russell help carry a rookie on the third pairing? I’m not 100% solid on that. Ditto for Bouchard being ready for the NHL just yet.
Talbot gets the start tonight, he’s been very good in the preseason. Montoya backs up after Koskinen struggled on Sunday night.
Vancouver Canucks Lines:
No lines posted by anyone affiliated with the Canucks. Vancouver played a preseason game last night in Salt Lake City against the Kings, meaning the club did not skate this morning. Vancouver lost the contest by a 4-1 margin, with Sam Gagner scoring the lone goal.
Reid Boucher and Ashton Sautner were both assigned to AHL Utica today after clearing waivers.
Vancouver is expected to have rookie Elias Petterson in the lineup. He’s the most electric player on the Canuck roster right now and will be worth the price of admission from a Vancouver standpoint. Brock Boeser, Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev and Bo Horvat are all expected to play in the second half of a back-to-back as well.
Enjoy the game! You can catch it on Sportsnet in Canada and on NHL Network in the States.