After a thrilling win Thursday night in the home opener, the Oilers return to the ice at Rogers Place tonight to take on the Nashville Predators in the first of three meetings this season. The Preds swept Edmonton a year ago, taking all three games.
The Oilers look to win their fourth straight tonight. Edmonton didn’t have a streak like that until leading into the Christmas break a year ago. Although they aren’t playing their best hockey, a win tonight puts Edmonton in a really good spot through the club’s first six games.
Cam Talbot starts once again for the Oilers, while Juuse Saros goes for the Predators.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Attack Saros early and often. Nashville’s backup was forced into action last night in Calgary, and will start for the injured Pekka Rinne tonight. Saros is good, but he’s a clear step down from Rinne. If Edmonton can attack him early, they may be able to exploit this young netminder.
Nashville: The Preds’ suffocating defensive style makes them one of the toughest matchups in the NHL for the Oil. Keep it simple tonight, Nashville. Play within the system and you will without doubt shutdown an Edmonton offense that hasn’t exactly been flying high so far.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Fresh off of his first career goal, Kailer Yamamoto jumps onto the first line with RNH and Connor McDavid. I thought he played well here in the first nine games a year ago and has a chance to emerge in this role. If he does, Edmonton is in a much better spot.
Nashville: Edmonton’s penalty killing unit has not been good this season. Ryan Ellis, for my money, is one of the best powerplay weapons in the NHL from the point. That usually means bad news for the Oilers, and I suspect he plays a role in tonight’s result.
Edmonton placed Matt Benning on IR yesterday and recalled Kevin Gravel from the AHL. Gravel will sit tonight, while Drake Caggiula and Ty Rattie are both injured and will not play up front. Alex Chiasson makes his debut with the Oilers in Rattie’s place.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
Tobias Rieder – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Milan Lucic – Ryan Strome – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Kris Russell
Jason Garrison – Evan Bouchard
Nashville has a new look this season in the bottom-six. Zac Rinaldo joins the team as a free agent, and he’ll be in the lineup tonight. Austin Watson is currently serving a suspension for domestic abuse, while Frederick Gaudreau is a healthy scratch. Defensively, Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto will sit.
Nashville Predators Lines:
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala – Kyle Turris – Craig Smith
Calle Jarnkrok – Nick Bonino – Ryan Hartman
Zac Rinaldo – Colton Sissons – Miikka Salomaki
Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm – PK Subban
Dan Hamhuis – Yannick Weber
This matchup has been a complete and total disaster for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost 14 straight games to Nashville, dating back to March 18th, 2014. Prior to this lengthy losing streak, Edmonton had defeated the Preds three straight times.
Edmonton lost to Nashville by scores of 4-0 (12/14), 2-1 (1/9) and 4-2 (3/1). It’s been a really ugly stretch, although the Oilers played the Preds very tough in the final two meetings last season. A bad off-sides call cost them that 2-1 affair in Tennessee.
Ty Rattie is expected to miss a few weeks for Edmonton with a mid-body injury. It’s highly likely that the Oilers recall a forward from Bakersfield in the coming days. I’d also keep an eye out on the waiver wire and wouldn’t forget the name Scottie Upshall.
All good things have to come to an end. Tonight, a winning streak will end in Edmonton. It won’t be the Oilers’ three game mark, however. The Oilers finally get one from the Predators, winning a defensive stalemate by a 2-1 final.
McDavid and Brodziak score for the Oilers, while Ellis gets a powerplay marker for Nashville.