The Oilers are 19-11-5 in home openers, but they are only 3-3-2 in their first home game after starting the season on the road. This was only the ninth time in 36 seasons the Oilers began their season on the road, and it is only the third time in franchise history they began a season with multiple road games.
Their 1986/1987 season started with games in Philadelphia (2-1 L), Montreal (5-4 OTW) and Winnipeg (5-3L) before defeating Quebec 5-2 at home.
In 1989/1990 they started with back-to-back wins in Vancouver (4-1) and LA (6-5), before coming home and losing 5-2 to Vancouver.
Last Thursday, the Oilers were unable to win their 20th season opening game in St.Louis, but they will try for their 20th home opening victory tonight against that same Blues team tonight.
The Oilers have lost seven consecutive games to the Blues and they are 3-15 since the beginning of the 2010/2011 season. The Blues have outscored the Oilers 64-30 in those 18 meetings and often they’ve completely controlled the game.
The Oilers didn’t generate much offence in St.Louis last Thursday, but they also limited the Blues scoring chances. They will need a similar defensive effort tonight, but their offence, especially their powerplay, needs to get going.
Tonight will be Todd McLellan’s first opportunity to have last change, and while he said he won’t jump through hoops to get certain matchups, I’m sure he’d like to see Connor McDavid against the Blues third D pairing of Bortuzzo/Edmunson rather than Pietrangelo/Bouwmeester.
He also added he wants to see how his players handle the tough minutes/matchups and that makes a lot of sense. I’m sure he will try to get favourable ones at times, but you if the team wants to become a top team they need to excel playing against the best .
St. Louis Blues… (subject to change)
- Blues D-man Colton Parayko is a great story for kids who get cut from their AAA team. Parayko played minor midget AAA as a 15-year-old (only 15 year olds can play minor midget), but he was cut from St. Albert’s midget AAA team when he was 16. He played Midget AA and then he moved to the the AJHL at 17 with Fort McMurray. Two years in the AJHL earned him a scholarship to Alaska Fairbanks University and after three years in NCAA he turned pro last spring and played 17 AHL games. He cracked the Blues lineup this year and scored his first two NHL goals Tuesday night in Calgary. What an incredible story, and it helped that he grew six inches when he was 17 years old. He has a cannon from the point and he will get some second unit PP time.
- Hitchcock had an interesting comparison for McDavid. “I would say Modano would be a good comparison. Mike knew when to turn and burn. He even knew where pucks would go after being blocked and his anticipation led to chances the other way. If you don’t manage the puck properly when McDavid is on the ice his anticipation is so great it will result in goals.”
- I don’t mind Hendricks with RNH and Hall. He plays a simple game and will go to all the tough areas on the ice. He is responsible defensively and he plays with energy. This isn’t a long-term solution, but why not try it? The Oilers offence hasn’t done anything, so try a few wrinkles to see what works. If you are worried about him playing right wing over left wing, then you are worrying about things that won’t matter much. He is also with RNH to help on faceoffs, to either take some of them or to help out by battling harder for lose pucks off the draw. The Oilers are 30th (42.7%) in faceoffs and the Blues are first (58.6%).
- Reinhart is back in and I asked McLellan about his rotation of the #6 D-man. “Every player on our team has played a game now. He wasn’t taken out of the lineup due to his play. I wanted everyone to get in a game. We won’t continue to rotate eight D-men. If he (Reinhart) plays like he did in St. Louis he has a good chance of staying in.”
- The Blues will be without Kevin Shattenkirk after he was injured in Calgary on Tuesday. The Blues have very good depth on their blueline, but Bortuzzo is not close to Shattenkirk. Losing him hurts them as much as the Oilers miss Eberle on the RW.
- One game really impacts stats early in a season. After surrendering 52 shots to Dallas the Oilers are now last in shots against averaging 36.3/game. Prior to Tuesday’s loss they averaged 28.5/game which was tied for 14th best.
- If you are going to the game get in your seats early. There will be a special pregame ceremony starting around 6:40. Puck drop is 7:07 p.m.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
From St. Louis Game Time
Just as nuts as the Edmonton fanbase, the bad news just keeps coming for the Blues. Already down one rookie with Robby Fabbri‘s concussion, the Blues are sitting veteranKevin Shattenkirk for this game with the notorious Lower Body Injury. He hasn’t been ruled out for Friday (yet), but the Blues have already started making plans around his absence. They’ve placed Fabbri on IR, and with that open roster spot they’ve called upChris Butler. I don’t expect Jeeves to play tonight, since Robert Bortuzzo is likely to slot into the lineup in Shatty’s place. Having Butler in the pressbox will be insurance, and may be useful if anything else happens. At this rate, we’re losing a player a game. I hope that trend doesn’t continue.
One positive trend is the Blues routinely beating the Oilers. The Blues have won 7 straight against them, and outscored them by a combined 30-11. You have to think that an improved Oilers squad, an injured Blues team, and the added bonus of home ice and a fired-up home opener crowd all give Edmonton hope that they can turn that pattern around. If the Blues can score early, maybe they can deflate those dreams. At the very least, let’s not put one in our own net and spot them a lead, OK boys?
Brian Elliott returns in net for the Blues, and the Oilers answer with Cam Talbot. I wonder how Vladimir Tarasenko is going to victimize him tonight? Taylor Hall has missed some time with illness, but will probably be ready to go tonight.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers didn’t defeat the Blues at home (named the Coliseum in 1979/1980) going 0-1-1 in their first season, but they will pick up a home victory in their final season at Rexall picking up a 4-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The comment section will have with posts saying, “McLellan is an idiot for putting Hendricks with Hall and RNH.” Many of the same people hated Purcell or Korpikoski being there as well. They are likely the same people who think McLellan is the reason the team is 0-3.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: ***I’m still peeved at myself for changing my NSOGDP last game. I had started one with Klefbom scoring the first “real” goal of the season but I couldn’t think of a finishing comment so I changed it. Idiot.*** Tonight, I’m going with my first instinct: Justin Schultz shocks all of us and finishes the game with three SOG, two hits, and two points. He is also +1.
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