Tonight marks the Oilers’ last chance at beating a Western team before we get into the month of December. Seriously… you can’t make this stuff up.
Last night was one of the more frustrating losses for the Oilers that I’ve seen in a while (I mean, they’re all frustrating but you know what I’m getting at). They played well enough to win that game (honestly), but they just could not get a puck past Pekka Rinne. Tonight, things don’t get any easier. The St. Louis Blues are 14-6-2 on the season, including a 6-3-1 record in their last 10. By comparison, the Blues have basically as many points in their last 10 games than the Oilers have all season. That’s a problem.
To win this game, the Oilers are going to have to find a way to get their power play going. At this point in the season (or any point for that matter), it’s unacceptable for a successful power play to mean that they didn’t let in a short handed goal. As of right now, the Oilers’ PP has only produced 9 goals on the season – that’s not nearly good enough. The good teams find a way to score on the power play, and the Oilers have not been able to do that.
If the Oilers lose tonight’s game, they will go into December with ZERO wins against the Western Conference. That has to be some kind of record, right? It’s unbelievable! When the season started, I don’t think any of us would have expected things to be this bad. Unless the Oilers can find a way to win against the West, this is going to be a very long season… again.
Looks like the only change to the forwards is to plug Jesse Joensuu in for the injured Matt Hendricks. Hopefully Hendricks won’t be out long — he’s one of the few guys that plays with emotion on any given night.
Justin Schultz draws back into the lineup for Keith Aulie. Yes, this is the predictable move, but I also wouldn’t have been surprised to see him sit another game considering how well the Oilers played last night. I also could have seen him replacing Nikitin in the lineup. Why Martin Marincin isn’t in for Nikitin is the bigger question.
- Justin Schultz draws back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the first time in his 144 game NHL career (and probably ever in his life). What should be a wakeup call for Schultz is that the Oilers actually looked better without him. You know (read: hope) that he’ll be on a short leash if he wants to stay in the lineup.
- Ben Scrivens makes his first start since the Oilers were blown out by Chicago. Scrivens will also be looking for his first win since he shut the Habs out on October 27th.
- The last time the Oilers beat the St. Louis Blues was in March of 2013.
- The Oilers have scored only 3 goals in their last 4 games. If they ever plan on crawling out of this hole, they will have to find a way to score. I don’t care whether they throw their sticks in the garbage can in hopes of attracting a garbage goal. The Oilers have to find a way to get dirty, and take the puck to the tough areas.
- Nail Yakupov’s defensive game is getting better by the day. When his offensive luck starts to change, he’s going to be deadly. So far this season, Yak’s shooting percentage is very low at only 5.9%. That doesn’t make sense for a guy with a shot like his. He’s doing the work, and I expect the results to follow soon enough.
- The Oilers have 6 out of a possible 28 points in November. Wrap your mind around that one!
- According to Ryan Rishaug, Taylor Hall approached MacT to tell him that this hole is not Dallas Eakins’ fault. Getting a vote of confidence from the team’s best player should surely mean something to the GM. If that is the case, and Eakins still has the attention of the room, MacT better be busting his ass to get him some better tools to work with. Again, it’s not Eakins’ fault that he came into this season with 2 NHL centres and a defensive group ripe 3rd pairing players.
- As if things aren’t bad enough for OilersNation, those turds down South are actually calling for Oilers fans to jump ship and cheer for the Flames. You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I would rather not watch hockey, pick up knitting, and schedule a sex change than cheer for the Flames. *sigh*
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
I decided to take a look at what some St. Louis Blues blogs would be saying about tonight’s game. What I found was unsurprisingly not so flattering for the Oilers. From Arch Authority:
The St. Louis Blues will face the Edmonton Oilers for the first time this season on Friday night. At 6-14-3, the Oilers are currently the worst team in the Western Conference by a whole six points. Despite their struggles, however, they may have a heightened chance for victory on Friday, as they’ll be facing a Blues team that seemed to be down in the dumps Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators after losing goalie Brian Elliott. The Blues blew a two-goal lead in the third period and went on to lose in a shootout.
It will be an opportunity for the Blues to reacquaint themselves with two former teammates: defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who played in St. Louis during 2010 and 2011 before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and a bit more notably, forward David Perron, who many felt could be the Blues’ next great scorer. Perron was traded for forward Magnus Paajarvi last summer as the Blues faced a cap conundrum, and the 26-year-old, who never had more than 21 goals with the Blues, achieved career highs in goals (28) and points (57) for Edmonton last year, albeit doing it while achieving a career-low plus-minus rating of minus-16. It should be interesting to see if Perron’s effort is turned up on Friday night, as he was somewhat of an enigma during his time in St. Louis.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers battle hard despite playing on back to back nights. Unfortunately, the Blues are too much to overcome and win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Magnus Paajarvi snipes 2 goals against his former team, after which he whispers to Taylor Hall that things get better outside of Edmonton.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Feeling bad about their circumstance, Ken Hitchcock offers the Edmonton media an endless supply of donuts and cake before the game. Shell shocked, they don’t take the bait for fear of what Dallas Eakins might do to them, but instead vote for Hitchcock for the Jack Adams.