October 22 2013 12:06PM
Devan Dubnyk is going to have to roll up his sleeves, put on his gloves and pads, get an extra hard hat and hope he did a lot of squats in the off-season, because he might have to carry the Oilers for awhile.
Taylor Hall's MRI came back and the good news is that he's only out four weeks, not six months, but the bad news is that he could be out up to four weeks. Ryan Smyth injured his groin and is out at least a week. Sam Gagner is still recovering from a broken jaw and Jordan Eberle will play, but he aggravated a hip injury in Ottawa and isn't 100%.
Dubnyk faced 76 shots the past two games, and he only allowed four goals. He'll need to continue his strong play to give the Oilers any chance of getting back to .500.
While Dubnyk will try and hold down the fort defensively, Nail Yakupov has a great opportunity to step up offensively. Jordan Eberle has been the Oilers best forward recently, and Yakupov will skate with Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tonight and likely for the next month.
This will be Yakupov's third consecutive game playing with Nugent-Hopkins, and it is time for him to produce. Yakupov's role on the team is to score. It's the hardest job, but if he isn't producing he isn't helping the team win. I suspect once he scores his goals his confidence will increase rapidly, and he could go on a scoring binge. The Oilers need that to happen sooner than later.
Tyler Pitlick will play his first NHL game tonight, and according to Todd Nelson Pitlick has played well in OKC this year. With Smyth and Hall injured he has a great chance to give the Oilers what they are missing in their top-nine; a winger who has some skill, will forecheck, can cycle the puck and play aggressive. He's waited three years for this opportunity, so hopefully he makes the most of it.
Ben Eager will play his first NHL game since March 8th. This is Eager's last chance with the Oilers. He should have lots to prove. Eager skates better and is bigger than Mike Brown, who was traded to San Jose last night for a 4th round pick, but he'll need to cycle the puck better to be an upgrade on Brown. That isn't saying much, since Brown sucked at it, but if Eager can't stay out of his own end he isn't an upgrade. Eager needs to play with conviction every shift.
The Canadiens are just as banged up as the Oilers. Max Pacioretty, Daniel Briere, Brandon Prust, George Parros, Alexei Yemelin, Douglas Murray and Davis Drewiske are all injured.
They will go with this lineup tonight:
Prust is a big loss for the Canadiens. He and Travis Moen dominated the Oilers in Edmonton a few weeks ago, and he brings a lot of energy to their bottom six. Lethbridge product Patrick Holland will make his NHL debut tonight, while Mike Blunden plays his first game with the Habs.
The Eller line has produced 21 points in 8 games, while P.K Subban has 2 goals and 10 points in 8 games.
The entire Oilers defence has 2 goals and 11 points in 9 games. Subban is a bonafide #1 D-man.
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL...
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win when you least expect it, and they will continue that tonight with a 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eager and the fourth line will struggle getting the puck out in the 2nd period, and the comment sections will explode with calls for the return of Linus Omark.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the 3rd period, Wil Acton scores and Eager gets an assist. This time the comment section explodes with barbs tossed at those who doubted the 4th line. None of the posts claim the 4th line is consistently productive; they just want to rip on those who wanted Omark recalled instead. Get ready for just another night in the rollercoaster season of the Edmonton Oilers.