The Edmonton Oilers have had quite the last 48 hours. First, the club scored a 4-2 victory over the Kings at Staples Center. Then, they added three NHL pieces at an eventful trade deadline. Tonight, the Oilers look to keep the good times rolling as they make their second and final visit to Anaheim this season. It is the second of four meetings overall between the teams.
The Oilers are coming off of that aforementioned 4-2 victory over the Kings on Sunday night. The Ducks, meanwhile, fought hard but fell 5-4 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday night. The Oilers took the first meeting in the season series 6-2 on November 10th at the Honda Center.
Mike Smith starts for the Oilers, while John Gibson gets the go for the Ducks.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: A quick start is massive for the Oilers tonight. There is a lot of confidence in the Edmonton locker room right now. The Oilers saw their GM add three pieces on Monday, and they dominated the Kings on Sunday. They’ll face a team with no chance of making the playoffs tonight. A quick start will be important. Get the Ducks out of the game early and keep the confidence level high.
Anaheim: Play low-event hockey. The rebuilding Ducks don’t have the guns to trade chances with this Oilers team. If they want to collect two points tonight, they’ll need to limit the chances of both the McDavid and Draisaitl lines. That means playing a boring style of hockey that limits the chances both ways. It won’t be pretty, but it could be effective.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Tyler Ennis will get a look with Connor McDavid right away. The veteran winger will line up on the right wing with McDavid and Andreas Athanasiou, who will also be making his Oilers debut. Can Ennis keep up his strong season now that he is in a feature role with the game’s best player? Count this writer as excited to find out.
Anaheim: Speaking of additions on the second line, Danton Heinen will jump right into the top six as he makes his debut with the Ducks this evening. Acquired from Boston yesterday, the hard-working Heinen has a good mix of speed, skill and tenacity. He’ll be interesting to watch with a top six opportunity, something he didn’t get a lot of in Boston.
Kris Russell (concussion) was placed on LTIR on Sunday night and does not appear close to returning. Joakim Nygard (hand), James Neal (ankle) and Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) are all on IR. Yamamoto is week-to-week with an ankle issue. Markus Granlund was recalled from AHL Bakersfield this morning. Matt Benning comes out of the lineup in favor of Mike Green.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Andreas Athanasiou – Connor McDavid – Tyler Ennis
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Josh Archibald
Markus Granlund – Riley Sheahan – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Gaetan Haas – Patrick Russell
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Adam Larsson
William Lagesson – Mike Green
The Ducks assigned defenseman Brendan Guhle and forward Troy Terry to AHL San Diego on Tuesday morning. Cam Fowler (lower-body) and Erik Gudbranson (upper-body) are listed as day-to-day and not expected to play tonight. Patrick Eaves (undisclosed) and Ryan Kesler (hip) are on IR and will not return this season.
Anaheim Ducks Lines:
Sonny Milano – Ryan Getzlaf – Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen – Adam Henrique – Kiefer Sherwood
Max Jones – Sam Steel – Jakob Silfverberg
Nicolas Deslauriers – Andrew Agozzino – Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Jacob Larsson – Michael Del Zotto
Christian Djoos – Matt Irwin
“A big two points,” Connor McDavid said after Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Kings. “We’ve struggled in this barn before, so it’s good to get out there and find a way to grab two points.” Edmonton had lost 15 of their last 16 at Staples Center prior to Sunday’s win.
The victory was the Oilers’ eleventh over a Pacific Division opponent this season. The club’s record is now 11-8-2 on the season within the division. That is an area where the Oilers will need to be much better down the stretch. They’ll be looking for victory #12 tonight in Orange County.
Speaking of records, Edmonton’s record has been among the elite in the NHL since December 31st. Since then, the club is 13-5-3. The only two teams better than them in that span? The Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Not bad. This run has the Oilers second in the Pacific Division and sitting in a playoff spot with less than 20 games to play.