After an inexplicably long break, the Oilers are back in action tonight as they head south to the Saddledome to take on (for the first time this season) their divisional rivals in Calgary.
With question marks in net for both teams, plus some injuries and a new acquisition, combined with this being a divisional matchup, this promises to be an interesting game.
Keys to the Game
- Last game they threw a bunch of pucks at the net and 6 of them went in, so they should probably continue doing that. (Granted it was against the Habs and Antti Niemi and he’s a sieve, so maybe it doesn’t say much.)
- Special teams (especially the penalty kill) are a big question mark because of some injuries, so staying out of the box is maybe the most important thing the Oilers need to do tonight.
- Force the Oilers into the box (see above). For whatever reason, the Oilers seem unable to deal with roster adjustments, so forcing them to take penalties will be a big first step in beating them.
- With Koskinen in net, the Oilers are banking on their backup to carry them through; if the Flames can chase him and get Talbot in there, who knows what might happen.
Players to Watch
- Ryan Spooner is now an Oiler. He was acquired yesterday for Ryan Strome in a trade with the Rangers. Will he play? Who knows, but if he does, expect him to slot in on the 3rd line where Strome was yesterday in practice.
- McDavid is always fun. The best is watching him take that first stride and then accelerate through it. Unreal.
- Johnny Gaudreau is pretty good at hockey, and he’s always pretty fun to watch.
- Look for David Rittich to have a big game. There are some obvious question marks in net for the Flames, but the consensus is that Rittich is better (editor’s note: he is), so it’s likely that he’ls going to do what he can to earn the trust of the coaching staff.
Drake Caggiula – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl
Alex Chiasson – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic – Ryan
Strome Spooner – Cooper Marody
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Matt Benning
Kevin Gravel – Kris Russell
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Sam Bennett
Dillon Dube – Mark Jankowski – James Neal
Michael Frolik – Derek Ryan – Garnet Hathaway
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Noah Hanifin – Travis Hamonic
Juuso Valimaki – Rasmus Andersson
Yesterday, the Oilers traded Ryan Strome to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Spooner. Strome, you’ll remember, was the one-for-one return on the Jordan Eberle trade with the New York Islanders.
Spooner maybe has a bit more offensive upside than Strome (though at this point in the season, each player is 1-1-2 through 16 & 18 games), but there doesn’t seem to be much of an upgrade on this move.
Strome has struggled mightily this season, and seemed to be fighting the puck more than he did last year. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for a player, but after hearing how much of an upside Strome was supposed to have (plus the much needed cap space on the Eberle salary sump), it’s a little disappointing to look at Peter Chiarelli’s trade history and realize that the Oilers traded Eberle, Hall, and the pick that became Mat Barzal for Ryan Spooner, Adam Larsson, and nothing.
Time is a flat circle with this team. Just wait until they trade Cam Talbot and then never win another game.