The Oilers need to bounce back after Saturday’s disappointing loss to the Flames.
The Philadelphia Flyers have lost three straight, including a 4-1 setback in Vancouver last night and they enter Rexall Place with a 4-5-2 record. This is another team the Oilers need to beat. They will never improve if they can’t compete and regularly defeat average teams like Philadelphia.
The Flyers are struggling to score. They’ve only scored once in each of their past three games, and they’ve only lit the lamp once in six of their eleven games played.
Claude Giroux has four goals and only six points. Jakub Voracek has no goals and only four points. Voracek’s new $8.25 million/year deal begins next season. The Flyers need him to start producing. The low goal total isn’t a major surprise, he’s more of a passer than shooter, but four assists is unacceptable. The Flyers need their two best players to start producing if they hope to win.
The Oilers have been getting excellent production from their two best forwards. Taylor Hall has seven points in his last three games, and 13 on the season. Connor McDavid has 12 points in 12 games, and those two give the Oilers two dangerous lines.
Leon Draisaitl has fit in very well with RNH and Hall, while the Pouliot-McDavid-Yak trio has been excellent, except for Saturday’s loss vs. Calgary.
The Oilers need some production, albeit not much, from their bottom six forwards. Todd McLellan mentioned that again today, and he is hoping Purcell’s two-point effort on Saturday will jumpstart the veteran’s production.
- It is the battle of the backups. Anders Nilsson will play his first game since getting pulled on October 23rd vs. Washington, while Michal Neuvirth will start his 5th game of the season. Neuvirth has a solid 1.91 GAA and .939sv% this season, while Nilson, after a strong first two games, has a .902sv% and 3.92 GAA.
- Matt Hendricks is back in the lineup. He took a shot off the inside of his right ankle in Calgary on October 17th and hasn’t played since. He suffered a bad pressure cut and he still has some swelling on his foot. He admitted it is painful to skate, but he wants to play and the Oilers need his energetic personality on the bench and in practice. The Oilers are an extremely quiet group. Good teams have vocal leaders and energetic guys on the bench, but with Hendricks out the team lacked that ingredient.
- The Oilers activated Hendricks and put Lauri Korpikoski on IR, retroactive to last Wednesday. He said yesterday he is ready to play, so he could be activated by the weekend.
- Darnell Nurse is a vocal player and as he gets more comfortable he will speak up more. It is difficult for a rookie to come in and be one of the vocal players, but with such a quiet group, Nurse might have to become more vocal sooner than expected.
- Defencemen like the plastic skate protectors, but many forwards, especially wingers, don’t. The puck explodes off the plastic, and when D-men ring it around the boards and the forward tries to knock it down with his feet, it is much harder to do it wearing those protectors. Hendricks will wear them tonight. He wore them during the lockout season, but said they felt clunky. “I have no choice, but to wear them now. They help when you are blocking shots, but it is a challenge if you are trying to control a pass off your skates,” he said after the morning skate.
- Sean Couturier skated this morning. He has missed five games due to a concussion and it sounds like he will sit out tonight.
- McLellan said Fayne is out because he didn’t want to insert two D-men who didn’t play last game at the same time. Reinhart draws back in tonight, and we might see Fayne on Friday if one of the D-men struggle.
- Peter Chiarelli has been working the phones looking to make a trade. Don’t expect a major deal, but it sounds like, and this surprises no one, that he trying to tweak his blueline. Historically very few trades occur before November 15th, and an Eastern GM said via text this morning, “It is tough to negotiate a trade early in the season because you don’t want to overreact and trade away a player just because he had 10 bad games, and then see him flourish elsewhere.”
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Oilers had a dramatic comeback win against the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, recovering from an early 3-0 deficit to skate off with a 4-3 regulation win keyed by a three-goal outburst in the third period.
The emotional win was followed by a 5-4 regulation home loss to the Calgary Flames. Once again, the Oilers fell in early multi-goal hole and battled back to eventually tie the game. This time around, however, it was the opponent who came up with a late goal to seal the match. Michal Frolik finished off a hat trick with the game-deciding goal in the final 10 seconds of the third period on a seemingly harmless shot out of the corner.
Tuesday’s game is the third match of a four-game homestand for the Oilers. The team enters the game having lost four of its last five games overall. On home ice, Edmonton is 2-4-0 on the season to date.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: After being outscored 8-2 in their three previous first periods, the Oilers storm out of the gate and lead 2-0 after 20 minutes, and win the game 5-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner picks up a point against his former team.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McLellan mentioned they need more secondary scoring and he gets a goal from the most unlikely of sources. Eric Gryba has four career goals. His first NHL goal came on home ice on March 23rd, 2013 in Ottawa, but his next three have come on the road. He didn’t score a goal last year, and the last time he tickled the twine was March 8th, 2014 in Winnipeg. He ends his 105-game goalless drought tonight.
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