It is common knowledge in Edmonton that Travis Hamonic wants a trade to Western Canada. It is equally common knowledge that the Oilers need a stable right-shot defenceman or two and Hamonic—a young, cost-controlled rearguard who averages 23:44 per game—fits the bill wonderfully.
With Edmonton now 10 points out of the playoffs and coming off an ugly loss to Montreal yesterday, a chance for the entire fanbase to assess Hamonic could be a much-needed distraction from the Oilers’ play.
This is a must-win for the Islanders, so Edmonton should expect a motivated opponent. The Isles have fallen outside the playoffs by a single point but are just five points back of second in the Metropolitan and have games in hand on pretty much every team in front of them. This is one of those games, and a win would allow New York to leapfrog the Penguins and the Devils in the Eastern standings.
For the Oilers, this one is mostly about redemption after being embarrassed by the Canadiens yesterday. The playoff race is over and the season has devolved into individual storylines. Edmonton is a much-improved team over last season—goal differential alone shows that—but injuries and the depth of the pit the club was climbing out of both conspired to make those significant gains insufficient.
Line combinations courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com, your best source for fantasy hockey news.
These are yesterday’s line combinations for the Oilers. So far there’s been no update but the odds are good that we’ll see some change given that this is both the second half of a back-to-back and the game after an ugly loss.
I’d be inclined to dress Anton Lander up front and scratch Lauri Korpikoski, allowing Matt Hendricks to shift back to left wing; Korpikoski didn’t play well against the Canadiens but mostly he’s the No. 12 forward and it’s a decent idea to get some fresh legs out there. Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu and Iiro Pakarinen are all candidates for a game off, too, in that order of deservedness.
Defence is going to be very interesting. Edmonton is probably trying to trade Justin Schultz, but the defenceman richly deserves (and may well need) a game off. Does he come out or does the desire to trade him force the Oilers to keep him in the top-six rotation? Based on recent history, Mark Fayne is the other player likely to spend a game in the pressbox, though he really wasn’t bad in Montreal—the guy who keeps getting stuck defending two-on-ones isn’t the guy causing the real problems.
Outside of Andrej Sekera nobody is absolutely safe, and both Griffin Reinhart and Adam Clendening are deserving candidates to play.
This seems like a logical game for Anders Nilsson against his former team, but we’ll see. Cam Talbot getting pulled in yesterday’s contest means both goalies played yesterday and Talbot is clearly the better of the two goaltenders this season. My inclination would be to stick with him.
Wow, just count those centres. That entire top line is all natural centres. There’s only the one on the second line, but then we get down to the third unit and its all centres again. Add in Casey Cizikas and there are eight centres in all likely to dress against the Oilers.
This is why the ‘Edmonton doesn’t need three good centres!’ crowd is out to lunch. It’s always a good idea to have a natural centre or two on the wing. The Islanders know this, and never seem to get in a jam when a centre or two gets hurt. The Oilers never seem to know this, and so we end up watching Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Hall, Fernando Pisani and Ryan Smyth all playing centre at some point in their careers despite their obvious discomfort in the role.
What They’re Saying
John Tavares on Connor McDavid’s experience, via Cory Wright of the Isles’ official website:
Some of it is a little overwhelming when you think about it. You’re going through it for the first time and you’re barely an adult, or not even really I guess. You’re trying to mature and make sure you’re handling yourself the right way. I had great people around me that really helped me through that … You’re definitely used to it [by the time you get to the NHL].
Game day prediction: The Islanders are tired but at home, and need the points. The Oilers are tired, on the road, and don’t need the points. 3-1 New York.
Obvious game day prediction: Connor McDavid has at least three crazy rushes at an impossible speed, and yet will still have people in the comments section here saying he played like garbage when he doesn’t finish the plays off.
Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Teddy Purcell leads the charge offensively for the Oilers, capitalizing on the power play for Edmonton’s lone goal of the game.