The second to last preseason game on this side of the pond goes tonight at Rogers Place as the Oilers play host to their division rivals, the Arizona Coyotes. Edmonton will go with a largely NHL lineup tonight and will be turning to Mikko Koskinen for the full game in goal.
This is a huge game for a number of players, as the tough roster decisions need to be made in the next few days prior to the team’s trip to Europe following Saturday’s game with the Flames. A bad outing by Koskinen tonight could cost him his job, while Al Montoya is ready to reclaim a spot in the big leagues.
This is, obviously, the lone preseason meeting between the Oilers and Yotes this season.
Last Time Out:
Ty Rattie is white hot right now. The top right winger for Edmonton scored three times in the 6-0 drubbing of Vancouver and looked dangerous all night long. Give Rattie credit, he’s come in and taken advantage of his opportunity this fall. I’m not sure it will work out in the regular season, but Rattie has earned his top-line job.
Jesse Puljujarvi scored twice more and was extremely confident with the puck. He looks like a different player than the last two years and appears primed to take a big step in his third professional season. He’s willing to shoot the puck more, and I think that has made a big time difference.
Evan Bouchard, although at times shaky, was making some sensational plays with the puck and had one assist that absolutely blew my mind. His blind pass to McDavid that led to a Rattie goal was the play of a ten year veteran. You can see why the club is so high on their first round pick from June’s draft.
Cam Talbot was sensational once again, while I loved the defense pairing of Klefbom-Larsson in this tilt. My lone concern? The second line once again did not look good.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Tobias Rieder – Ryan Strome – Jesse Puljujarvi
Drake Caggiula – Kyle Brodziak – Pontus Aberg
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
Jason Garrison – Ethan Bear
If I were a betting man, this is the exact top-nine forward group we see on opening day. My only concern? The club’s second line. Draisaitl has to find a way to make it click with Lucic and Yamamoto if the Oilers are going to have success this coming season.
Strome is back in after missing Tuesday night’s game with a minor groin injury. Looking forward to seeing him play a full season with a defined role that I believe fits his strengths. He was set up to fail early last season in my opinion.
Willing to bet that this is also the top-four we will see take the ice against the Devils. Huge game for Bear, who I believe is fighting with Bouchard for the third-pairing RHD position right now. Garrison, meanwhile, might earn himself a contract and the seventh defender job with a good game tonight. Massive game for him.
Koskinen, like Bear and Garrison, is playing for his job tonight. Another bad outing and the door will be fully open for Montoya in his quest to make the NHL roster.
Arizona Coyotes Lines:
No set lines for the Coyotes as they get set to enter tonight’s contest. We do know they will be without Alex Galchenyuk, who suffered an injury earlier in preseason. Galchenyuk’s injury isn’t long-term, but he’ll miss the start of the regular season per the club.
Dylan Strome will play tonight, as he tries to open the season with Arizona and play his first full season in the NHL. It’s a huge year for the former third overall pick, who needs to emerge and fast.
I suspect we will see a number of Arizona’s key young players tonight. Among them, Christian Dvorak, Clayton Keller, Lawson Crouse and newcomer Vinnie Hinostroza. Suspect that UFA signing Michael Grabner will be in the lineup tonight as well.
Antti Raanta would be my guess as the starter, while Darcy Kuemper backs him up.
Enjoy the game!