The Oilers had Leon Draisaitl to fill in when Connor McDavid broke his clavicle earlier this season. Draisaitl’s play has exceeded everybody’s expectations, although he was always considered a high-end prospect, but I’d argue it will be more difficult for the Oilers to replace Oscar Klefbom than it was replacing McDavid.
Klefbom broke his finger on Friday. Peter Chiarelli said it isn’t too serious and they expect him to join the team later during this road trip, but he won’t play tonight or tomorrow, and it is highly unlikely his replacement will fill the void as successfully as Draisaitl has filled the one left by McDavid’s injury.
Klefbom is averaging 21:53/game.
He plays 2:39/game on PK, with Brandon Davidson next at 1:48/game.
Klefbom has been the most consistent defender all season and leads the D in goals (4) and points (12).
The Oilers don’t have a #3 overall draft pick waiting to eat up his minutes. In my eyes the most likely candidate to fill the void is Brandon Davidson.
Darnell Nurse could play 25+ minutes/game for a few games, but that would only fill a small portion of the void. Nurse has played 22:35, 22:01, 22:49 and 23:04 the past four games.
Andrej Sekera will have to play more, but the coaches haven’t been using him on the PK and his minutes have varied considerably the past four games: 23:44, 18:29, 16:00 and 23:17 after Klefbom was injured. He and Nurse can fill EV minutes, but Sekera already averages 20:52/game, so his increase will likely only be a few minutes/game.
Davidson is currently playing 17:38/game and he has been the biggest surprise on the blueline this season. I’m not certain he is ready to handle 22 minutes every game, but I believe he could fill the void until Klefbom returns.
Yesterday at practice Andrew Ference was paired with Justin Schultz, but Nikita Nikitin will draw in, not Ference. The Oilers didn’t have a morning skate, so we won’t know D pairs until game time, but I’d have Davidson playing more minutes tonight.
Chiarelli said Klefbom will only be out short-term, so I can understand if the coaches don’t want to shuffle the D pairs and put Davidson with Schultz, and instead will just slide Nikita Nikitin in Klefbom’s spot.
If that is the case, we will find out very quickly how much Nikitin has improved.
- The Oilers’ most recent six-game win streak occurred between October 22nd and November 3rd, 2011. Nikolai Khabibulin won five games and Devan Dubnyk won the other. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins are the only active players who played during that winning streak.
- Anders Nilsson allowed eight goals in the past two games and was starting to look a bit fatigued, so Todd McLellan has elected to go with Cam Talbot tonight instead of against his former team tomorrow. I asked McLellan about coaching against his former team — he admitted he had sweaty palms on Wednesday and hinted then he might want to lessen the pressure on Talbot and play him versus Boston, instead of in New York.
- Talbot has had one start in the last month, a 4-3 OT loss in Detroit on November 27th. Talbot is used to not playing regularly, and if he wants to get more than one start every 12 games he will need to play well tonight.
- Leon Draisaitl is tied with Evgeni Malkin, Joe Pavelski, Jeff Carter, Kyle Okposo, Mac Pacioretty, Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Steen for 24th in NHL scoring, but he’s only played 20 games while the rest have played 28-31 games.
- Draisaitl is fourth in points-per-game at 1.30, behind Patrick Kane (1.48), Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin (1.33), and just ahead of Hall (1.13). If Draisaitl continues his strong play all season, he should make team Europe for the upcoming World Cup of hockey. Team Europe will be comprised of any European player who is not from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia or Sweden. GM Miro Satan and head coach Ralph Krueger should be watching Draisaitl closely. He currently has the most points of any player eligible to play for team Europe.
- Hall was named the NHL second star of the week after scoring 3-3-6 in two games including both game winning goals. Hall has scored the GWG in three consecutive games and is fourth in NHL scoring with 14-20-34 in 30 games. He is also second in the NHL at +15, which is remarkable considering as a team the Oilers are -13 GF/GA at EV.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
To say that the B’s have “struggled recently” against the Oilers overstates things a bit, since they’ve earned points in the last 15 meetings. Edmonton, however, has ended a 13-game losing streak to Boston with shootout wins in the last two games (Feb. 18 of last season, and earlier this month), both at Rexall Place.
Last season’s defeat, sustained in the midst of a six-game winless streak, was among a series of losses to weaker teams that proved damaging to the Bruins’ ultimately unsuccessful bid for a ninth straight playoff berth.
This month’s loss – the first between the teams since fired B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli took the same position in Edmonton – was merely annoying. Coming off a strong, Black Friday win over the New York Rangers before taking off on their Western Canada trip, the Bruins felt they failed to beat the Oilers – who had lost 9 of 12 at the time – because they played Edmonton’s game, and not their own.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are 0-8-2 (one actual tie in December of 1999) in their last ten visits to Boston. Their last victory occurred on November 7th, 1996 when the shutout the Bruins 6-0 and the Polish Prince (Mariusz Czerkawski) scored a hat trick. The 19-year drought ends tonight. Oilers surprise the Bruins and win 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall, Draisaitl and Purcell score another nifty three-way passing goal.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Nikitin registers an assist and doesn’t look overwhelmed. The Nation watches in stunned silence.
DAY 10: MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you to Chris for his awesome bid of $7,500 for dinner with Hall, Strudwick and surprise guest at Ruth’s Chris.
Today’s package: An Entertainment Package from The Brick
Zander Bonded Leather Power
Samsung 55” J6201 Series Smart LED
Glendale 4 Piece Entertainment
Centre with 60” TV Opening – Espresso
Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards Santas Anonymous.
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