It can’t be worse than Thursday night, right? The Edmonton Oilers continue their five-game road trip tonight in Vegas as they meet the Golden Knights for the first of four on the season. Vegas took the season series by winning three of four meetings a season ago.
The Oilers were not ready to play on Thursday night. The Kings came out with more urgency and the Oilers struggled to even make simple passing plays. Games like that happen, but it will be important for the Oilers to turn the page quickly with a better effort tonight.
Mike Smith starts for the Oilers, while Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod for the Golden Knights.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Start on time. The Oilers weren’t ready to go on Thursday and they paid for it dearly. The Kings took it to the Oilers and jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Edmonton was able to settle in. At that point, the game was already over. The Oilers have to have a better start tonight in a tough building against a good team.
Las Vegas: Keep the game five-on-five. The Oilers are the best powerplay team in the NHL and also have a top five penalty kill. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, are an up-and-down special teams team. Vegas needs to keep this game on even footing tonight.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Mike Smith needs to prove that he hasn’t fallen off a cliff. He’s been awful in the month of November, getting shelled in each of his last two starts. The Oilers need him to be at his October level if they want to keep Mikko Koskinen rested and healthy. Smith has something to prove tonight.
Las Vegas: Paul Stastny has been ‘downgraded’ to the team’s third line center spot. Give the veteran credit, however, as he has embraced his role and helped give Vegas a very strong third line. He should be able to feast on the soft underbelly that is Edmonton’s bottom six.
Matt Benning remains on IR and won’t play tonight for the Oilers. Brandon Manning, who was activated Thursday, will be scratched on the blueline. Sam Gagner and Patrick Russell are expected to sit up front, but Jujhar Khaira did miss practice on Friday. Although it’s being called a ‘maintenance day’, Khaira’s situation is worth monitoring.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Jujhar Khaira – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – James Neal
Joakim Nygard – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
Markus Granlund – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom – Caleb Jones
Kris Russell – Adam Larson
The Golden Knights traded Colin Miller to Buffalo over the summer, bringing prospect Nicolas Hague up through the system to replace him. Other than that, the Golden Knights are very similiar to the team we saw a season ago.
Vegas Golden Knights Lines:
Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty – Cody Eakin – Mark Stone
Alex Tuch – Paul Stastny – Cody Glass
William Carrier – Tomas Nosek – Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb – Nate Schmidt
Nicolas Hague – Shea Theodore
Nick Holden – Deryk Engelland
Edmonton is opening up just the second set of back-to-back games on the season. They split their first set, losing the opener in Detroit but winning the next night in Columbus. Mikko Koskinen will start tomorrow night when the Oilers travel to Arizona to battle the Coyotes.
The Oilers, prior to Thursday, had lost just six games in regulation on the season. In games following regulation losses, they are 5-1-0 on the season. This team has made a habit of rebounding from losses and will look to do it again tonight in a very important game.
Although the Golden Knights are a decent 11-9-4 this season, they have been struggling in their last ten games. The Golden Knights are just 3-4-3 in their last ten games, and are a pedestrian 6-4-3 at home this season. The ‘Vegas flu’ hasn’t been a factor this season.