The Edmonton Oilers host an original six team tonight, the New York Rangers. It’s been all of this century since Glen Sather guided the good ship Oiler, and the same amount of time Slats has been managing the Manhattan Project. Mr. Sather’s best pupils among the Boys on the Bus replaced him and we are living in interesting times.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
The Rangers arrive at Northlands tonight outside the playoffs (10th in the Eastern Conference) but have games in hand on the teams ahead of them. Tonight is an important game for the team, they’re off a big win in Vancouver and despite the quick turnaround you have to give them a good chance to win this evening in Edmonton.
The Rangers marquee player is Henrik Lundqvist who damn near had a shutout in Vancouver last night.
Lundqvist: “We played the way we talked about going into this game. Their D pinch a lot, so we have to be smart on the blue line, and
it really paid off in the first period. We scored a couple goals, and
it really gave us confidence.” Source
One imagines the same game plan applies for tonight’s game in Edmonton. The Rangers rank No. 5 in goals-per-game (3.00) and are No. 17 in goals-against (2.70) so far this season. They are a pretty good road team (4-5-1) but back-to-backs are a tough item even if the flight is an hour.
The Oilers spent the last day or two working on helping their terrible power play (EDM ranks No. 26 in PP efficiency and have given up 5 SH goals) with Matt Hendricks (1PP) and Tyler Pitlick (2PP) getting practice as “Ryan Smyths” in net-front presence.
The team also recalled Brad Hunt from the minors this morning, he has the best shot from the point in the organization (well, that might be Yakupov but Dallas Eakins is shy to try).
Dallas Eakins: “We continue to search for goals [on the power play] and we’ll keep
changing it, adjusting it, hammering on it. “[Hendricks] will not leave the front of that net when the
puck’s up on the point. He’s good on retrievals. He’s heavy on pucks,
we’ve got to have that. What happens on your power play usually is when a
guy like that goes on it, there’s usually someone with skill who moves
off or moves to another unit. It’s where we’re at now. We have to have
somebody in front of the net.” Source
I imagine the skill guys are wondering which of them leaves the top power play for Hendricks (and Hunt) insertion. It may well be that one of the top skill men are on the outside looking in. Something to watch for tonight.
I don’t have an answer for you, wish I did. The Lander issue is a mystery, especially considering Todd Nelson raves about the player. Although Lander was a disappointment early as a prospect, he’s certainly improved over the last two seasons and with Edmonton’s current center situation an obvious call-up option.
As a fan, it’s disheartening to see this occur with Lander and Martin Marincin (who I mentioned in the post earlier today). I can only imagine what it’s like for the player and I do think it’s reasonable to assume this will be Lander’s last year with the organization.
OILERS SCORING, LAST 10 GAMES
That’s an awful 10 game stretch, absolutely putrid. 17 goals in 10 games? Lordy. The recall of Brad Hunt may help the power play but the goals-against are probably going to take a beating (Hunt is a chaos blue).
- Tyler Pitlick has played well enough to earn a few more games by my eye. I don’t think his presence on the 1line is warranted, though.
- Edmonton has been slow to use David Perron on the 1line and I wonder why? It might be foot speed and that’s a fair criticism. Still, when you’re not scoring, why not use your best available (aside from Eberle) option?
- The last GM hired by Edmonton using the ‘interview several candidates’ system might have been Larry Gordon.
- I think it is very fair to ask ourselves if tonight’s lineup for the Oilers is the best available.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING….
Pat Leonard from the New York Daily News has a few items on tonight’s game:
Backup Cam Talbot is expected to make the start against the Oilers, who
are desperate, having won just once in their last 15 games (1-10-4).
Edmonton beat the Rangers, 3-1, at the Garden on Nov. 9 in a game that
assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson called “embarrassing” before it even
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers match a tired Rangers team from the start of the game and win 3-1 courtesy a strong performance from Taylor Hall.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score a power play goal which causes Glen Sather to swallow his (unlit) cigar.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers and Rangers hook up for a trade before the game ala Doug Weight-for-Esa Tikkanen and we see Chris Kreider and Nail Yakupov lineup for the opening faceoff in the
wrong right uniforms.