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Oilers Gameday: December 18th at Seattle

The Oilers are back on the road after snapping their long 6 game losing streak on Thursday, taking on the Kraken in Seattle tonight. It was against this Kraken team that the Oilers losing streak began, back on December 3rd at Climate Pledge Arena.

With some positive momentum the Oil will be looking for a better result this time around against the tight checking Seattle team that has also won but a single game since these 2 teams last met.

We’re confirmed to see Driedger and Skinner I goal for their respective teams this evening. More and more Oilers players and staff, including Coach Tippett, are being added to the COVID protocols, so it’s likely only a matter of time before we see some Oilers games postponed.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Edmonton:

  1. Veterans lead the effort. The Oilers top players might have to log huge minutes with a lineup that has more and more new faces as the COvID situation worsens. It’s by no means a recipe that can last season-long, but at least in the short term we should expect to see several players around and above 25-30 minutes tonight.
  2. Score first. In hockey the first goal is always huge, but for the Oilers it’s been an area of concern considering all of their 6 games during the losing streak saw them fall behind early.

Seattle:

  1. Forecheck. In their last meeting we saw that the Kraken were able to effectively neutralize the Oilers attack from pressuring their breakouts.
  2. Penalty kill. A strong effort in this area can severely limit the Oilers chances of winning, giving the Kraken a chance to resolve the game at even strength against a depleted lineup.

EXPECTED LINEUPS

Edmonton: RNH, Puljujarvi, and Keith have been added to COVID protocols. Niemelainen is out with a hand injury. With so much changing as we get closer to game time it’s almost impossible to predict the lines but I’m giving it a shot here.

Foegele — McDavid — Kassian

Benson — Draisaitl — Yamamoto

Perlini — Ryan — Sceviour

Griffith — Marody — Turris

Nurse — Bouchard

Koekkoek — Ceci

Lagesson — Barrie

Skinner

Koskinen

Seattle: Gourde, Blackwell, and Sheahan are in COVID protocols.

Schwartz — McCann — Eberle

Johansson — Wennberg — Appleton

Donato — Geekie — Donskoi

Tanev — True — Jarnkrok

Oleksiak — Giordano

Dunn — Larsson

Soucy — Lauzon

Driedger

Grubauer

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Edmonton: Foegele getting a chance with McDavid is a great opportunity to both he and the team, as if he’s able to produce in the top 6 the Oilers forward depth would be greatly improved. He’s looked energetic and up to the task so far, but we’ll need to see some production at even strength to truly strengthen his grip on the opportunity. Much has been made of Yamamoto’s lack of shots, and production in general, as of late. I don’t think he’ll ever be a high scoring, point producing offensive star, the way it looks Puljujarvi is trending, but the forward does bring other skills to the table. Granted, there hasn’t been enough good play from him, but I don’t necessarily think he’s a player whose success should be measured by points or shots on goal. After a brief stint in the AHL, Perlini returned to the lineup and finally added to his point total. The Oilers depth all but completely dried up, of course they won’t be scoring every game, but hopefully Perlini can keep the points coming for a bit of a streak, bringing linemates like Ryan, Kassian, Sceviour, and Turris along with him.

Koekkoek returns from the IR in an elevated spot in the lineup, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table tonight. There’s a non-zero percent chance he can start pushing Keith for this spot alongside Ceci so tonight is a significant opportunity for him. Likewise, Lagesson has a chance to make a statement as well, as he’s had some really strong games despite being healthy scratched often. Maybe he’s not destined to become a top-4 defender, but it seems like a lot is going well for the Oilers when he’s on the ice, and at least personally I’ve been pretty impressed with him so far this season.

Seattle: Although Gourde is out, the Kraken have a lot of their top offensive players in the lineup tonight as Schwartz-McCann-Eberle should be dangerous, not to mention some strong contributors sprinkled throughout a lineup that will be much deeper than the Oilers rag tag group is shaping up to be. Wennberg and Tanev are really strong two-way players, while Donskoi, Donato, and Geekie all have some offensive skills that should have the Oilers keying in on their whereabouts.The defence is quite big and heavy, and opponents have been able to victimize the group with speed as of late. That being said, an undermanned Oilers forward group will have their hands full tonight. Oleksiak has kept improving over the years, and isn’t afraid to use his speed to jump into play more than you might expect. Lauzon is tough and wild, what you might expect from a Bruins player. Former Oiler Larsson leads the team in icetime, and is surely missed on the Oilers blueline, but at least he is well appreciated in his new home.

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