Cam Talbot has only started two of the Oilers past ten games, but he’s back between the pipes tonight and looking to rediscover his game. Talbot hasn’t looked comfortable in his last five starts, but his confidence took a big blow on Halloween when Michael Frolik scored from the corner with less than ten seconds remaining in the game. Since that frightful evening, Talbot’s only played twice, and he lost both games, allowing four goals on 28 shots each night.
He, like the rest of the team, will try to get his season back on track tonight in Detroit.
Talbot had a solid first five games, but he’s fought the puck ever since. He’s worked a lot with goalie coach Dustin Schwartz in practice on fine tuning small parts of his game and we’ll see if the extra work pays off. He needed to make some technical adjustments, but I believe he’s battling self-doubt as much as he is his angles at this point.
He just needs to play solidly. He doesn’t need to be spectacular, but he needs to make the routine saves and either make smarter plays with the puck or just stay in his crease and let his D-men move the puck.
The Oilers didn’t play very inspired in Carolina, and you’d hope they will display a more spirited effort tonight, but unfortunately there are no guarantees with this inconsistent hockey club. You can count on one hand the players who have been involved and consistent in the majority of games. I might be reading into things too much, but it was concerning to see a lack of frustration on Wednesday night. It was almost as if losing has become acceptable again.
I know Todd McLellan will do everything he can to ensure that doesn’t happen, and I’m sure none of the players believe it, but their actions suggest a losing culture. It is difficult to change, and that, more than anything else, will be McLellan’s biggest hurdle moving forward.
McLellan shuffled his lines after another lacklustre offensive effort in Carolina. Hall and Draisailt remain the most consistent threat, and I think moving Pouliot to the third line is a message from the head coach that he needs more from #67. Pouliot has the size and strength to play in the tough areas, but we haven’t seen that often enough this season. Even though he scored last game, I see his moving to the third line and away from both Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle as a strong message from his coach.
The Oilers offence hasn’t been in the blue paint often enough to produce. You can’t always score from the perimeter or on fancy passes. The Oilers have the skill to score the pretty goals, but they need to find the determination to score the ugly goals as well.
Eric Gryba draws back in and Griffin Reinhart comes out.
- Jujhar Khaira will take the pregame skate and is a possibility to play in his first NHL game. If he dresses tonight or tomorrow in Pittsburgh, he will become only the third Punjabi player to skate in the NHL. Manny Malhotra and Robin Bawa were the first two, and Khaira’s appearance in an NHL lineup will be a big deal for young players with Punjabi roots. It makes the dream look attainable for those kids and that is fantastic.
- Khaira is 6’4 and 215 pounds. He was a third round pick in 2012 and he was one of only five players to have dressed in all 16 games in Bakersfield this season. He’s tallied 3-4-7 in the AHL, and head coach Gerry Fleming said this about Khaira’s play. “He’s been pretty consistent this year. He is learning how to use his size to his advantage and he’s starting to create more offence. When he is moving his feet he is effective, and his biggest challenge is doing that regularly.”
- The Oilers haven’t won in Detroit since December 3rd, 2009. They are 0-7-2 since. Jeff Deslauriers was the winning goalie and Patrick O’Sullivan scored a pair of goals. No player on the current roster has won a game in Detroit as a member of the Oilers.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Power vs. Power
The Oilers are missing two key pieces at the top of their lineup in Connor McDavid and now Nail Yakupov. They’ve still got a bunch of talent up top with Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Draisatl, but the Wings have experience there. Detroit needs to play a smart game against speedy youngsters, and perhaps get another great game out of their own 19-year old phenom.
Wild Card Special Teams
Neither team is very good at special teams (except Detroit’s penalty kill), so you’ll get wildly different performances night in and night out. The Wings need to draw more penalties and take advantage of them, but have to keep Edmonton off the scoreboard with the recently very-effective PK.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers lose 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Frustration among the Nation rises. Wanye and Baggedmilk are actually seen crying in their beer.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Five years ago Edmonton Sun writer Rob Tychkowski had Detroit fans and some Detroit media members livid due to the opening line of his article where he referenced Detroit as Murder City. Tych is a good follow on twitter, mainly due to his sardonic wit, and during the second period you can tell he is getting bored watching another re-run of an Oilers game, so he decides to have some fun and re-ignite his feud with Wings fans. He begins by subtlety mentioning, A “Detroit” of Crows in a tweet then he watches gleefully as the anger rises among Detroit fans.
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- GDB 22.0: Getting Better?
- GDB 21.0: Capital Punishment
- Purcell hires Adam Oates
- GDB 19.0: Blackhawk Down
- Decision on Defence Coming Soon
- McDavid on road to recovery