Oilers Gameday: November 23rd at Dallas  

Oilers Gameday: November 23rd at Dallas  

Oilers

Oilers Gameday: November 23rd at Dallas  

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The Oilers are looking strong, 2nd in the Pacific Division at 13-4-0, but return to the road while looking for better results than their last trip.

 

The Stars are riding a 3 game home win streak, but have duplicated their uneven start of last season. Generating offence has been an issue for the Stars dating back years to Jim Lites call out of Benn and Seguin, and despite riding their defensive strength to a Cup Final appearance 2 years ago it hasn’t been enough to make qualifying for the playoffs very easy.

 

With a veteran filled team you’d think Coach Bowness’ seat is getting hotter, so the Stars should be playing with a level of urgency. Things have been unhinged recently with players only meetings and the late scratching of Riley Tufte, which may or may not affect the proceedings, as the Stars no doubt expect more from themselves.

 

It looks as though Holtby will not return from a lower body injury to start in net for Dallas tonight, so the Stars will go with Oettinger while the Oilers seem to be countering with Skinner. Both young goalies have looked promising early into the season, and have been earning more ice time with each start.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME

 

Edmonton:

  1. Clean breakouts. The Stars top line centred by Hintz is extremely effective at creating and capitalizing off of turnovers in the offensive zone. Not only will this get the puck moving onto the attack, it will likely be enough to keep Dallas off the scoreboard too.
  2. Penalty Kill: despite their lacklustre offensive output, the Stars have a good power play. Staying out of the box and the Oilers usual brand of strong killing will be crucial.

 

 

Dallas:

  1. Get to the tough ice. The Stars have some scoring talent, but clearly not enough to afford bringing anything less than their most dangerous, not to mention who their opponents are, speaking of which…
  2. Hope and pray, rather, contain McDavid and Draisaitl. The Stars have a strong blueline, big physically imposing centres, and last change. They’ll need to utilize every advantage they have to keep the duo at bay.

 

 

EXPECTED LINEUPS

 

Edmonton:

 

Hyman — McDavid — Puljujarvi

RNH — Draisaitl — Yamamoto

Foegele — McLeod — Kassian

Perlini — Ryan — Turris

 

Keith — Ceci

Russel — Bouchard

Broberg — Barrie

 

Skinner

Koskinen

 

Dallas: Glendenning appears to be a game time decision in which case we will see Kero move into that spot.

 

Robertson — Hintz — Pavelski

Raffl — Benn — Gurianov

Kiviranta — Seguin — Glendening

Peterson — Faksa — Radulov

 

Lindell — Heiskanen

Suter — Klingberg

Hanley — Hakanpaa

 

Oettinger

Khudobin

 

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Edmonton: most of what I see from Oilers fans, when it comes to negative comments about the forwards, are about the 4th liners rotating in or out of the lineup, aka the problems of good teams. The group up front stays the same except for Ryan and Perlini swapping in for Benson and Sceviour. Becoming the player to watch for the month, Ryan McLeod has been holding up as the 3rd line centre which is of course a hugely important development. As he’s just establishing himself, Tippett probably needs to see him consistently deliver over the next couple months before fully entrusting the role, but so far he’s been solid.

 

In the 1st game without Nurse, Tippett leaned heavily on the Keith – Ceci pairing, but I’m expecting that Evan Bouchard will start to surpass both in ice time over the month or so Nurse is out. He’s still young, so it might be a question of when more than if, but early on Bouchard has been showing that he is a premier defender on both sides of the puck.

 

Philip Broberg looked pretty good in his first game, and showed signs of NHL skills with smart, simple passes and the ability to skate the puck out of trouble as well. It’s likely the Oilers are hoping this experience allows Broberg to get his feet wet before sending him back down, but it’s very promising for the future to have even seen this much already. He may not be able to win a regular spot in the lineup right now (who knows with injuries), but at the very least he will win over some of those who doubted him as a top prospect.

 

 

Dallas: if you haven’t been able to catch any Stars games since last year you should know that the Robertson-Hintz-Pavelski line has led the charge for a while now. Pavelski is getting closer to 40 years of age, but is still dangerous in the slot thanks to his notable deflection skills, as well as being a threat with a pass or a shot. Robertson had a breakout Calder finalist season, as the big winger is an offensive force who can not only read off Pavelski well, but also raise the overall capabilities of the line with quality puck skills and a good shot. Meanwhile Hintz is big and fast, a threat through the neutral zone, and has probably been the Stars most dangerous forward the past 2 or 3 seasons, although limited by nagging injuries. All 3 have great stick checking abilities. Outside of that, Benn, Seguin, and Radulov aren’t quite living up to their reputations, and aren’t provided much offensive help outside Gurianov. The Stars likely need more offensive skill injected into this forward group to get back to being a contending team.

 

The blueline is the strength of the team, at least on paper, led by Miro Heiskanen who is always a pleasure to watch. It says a lot about both him and the team that he leads the Stars in points this season. Perhaps the likes of Klingberg and Suter aren’t quite what they used to be, but down the road the Stars do have some prospects on the back end that should keep the group strong for years to come.

 

Even depth players in this Stars lineup, particularly Hakanpaa and Faksa, are quite responsible and more utilized than most lower lines around the league. Both will likely play small parts in shutting down McDavid and Draisaitl.

 

The situation in net is certainly interesting, as the Stars have 4 NHL worthy goalies signed. Bishop is injured as has been a lot of late, so much that it’s hard to get a read on if or when he might be returning. Holtby was recently signed to a 1 year ~$2 million deal but is just coming off a lower body injury that has caused him to miss about a week so far. Khudobin has a year left on his deal and took them on their Cup run, but like Koskinen, and Holtby at this point, is ideally a tandem option. This would be straightforward were it not for the emergence of former 1st rounder Jake Oettinger, who looks to be on a path to the starting role. It’s hard to tell how this will all shake out, even in the short term, but it is likely the Stars will move a goalie at some point before the trade deadline, whether it’s buying or selling. 

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