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Last year, Cam Talbot was on the bench both times the Oilers faced the New York Rangers. At their first meeting on December 11th, Talbot was still in a rut and didn’t get the start against his former team, but watching that game, combined with a lot of practice time, had him extremely motivated to play well when he returned between the pipes.
He stood on his head three nights later in Boston, stopping 47 of 49 shots and leading the Oilers to a 3-2 victory. However, the Oilers played in Madison Square Gardens the next night and after facing 49 shots 24 hours earlier, Talbot once again had to watch from the bench.
Tonight he’ll get the start and he’s very much looking forward to the challenge.
The Rangers are playing well. They’ve won five of their last six games and they demolished both the St.Louis Blues (5-0) on Tuesday, and Tampa Bay (6-1) on Sunday.
Talbot will face his mentor, Henrik Lundqvist, and the pupil would love nothing more than to out duel him on Broadway.
Talbot leads the NHL in starts (10), wins (7), shots faced (311), and he is fifth in SV% (.932), among goalies who have started five games.
Talbot has been exceptional for the Oilers thus far. In his ten starts he’s faced 311 shots. Lundqvist has started eight games with 206 total shots on goal. Talbot is facing 31.1 shots per game while Lundqvist has seen 25.7.
Talbot has allowed 21 goals while Lundqvist has been beaten 17 times.
So far this season the proud new father of twins has been better than the ridiculously good looking Lundqvist. Talbot will need to continue that trend tonight if the Oilers have any hopes of winning.
The Rangers are playing excellent hockey. They are +21 in GF/GA ratio in their seven wins while losing three games by one goal each.
They have nine PP goals in ten games, 23.7%, and the only aspect of their game that isn’t in the top-ten is their PK, tied for 16th at 81.5%.
Talbot will need another sparkling performance as the Oilers try to avoid going winless in three games.
The Oilers held an optional skate this morning. The only change I could see is Eric Gryba possibly drawing back in for Matthew Benning.
They have seven forwards, Miller (8), Hayes (7) and Nash, Kreider, Zuccarello, Vesey and Grabner (6) with six or more EV points so far. Mika Zibanejad leads them with four PP points while Brandon Pirri (fourth line C) is tied for the team lead in PP goals with two.
They are getting offensive contributions from everywhere, and they will test the Oilers’ defensive awareness.
Stepan’s line has combined for 11 goals and 23 points.
Zibanejad’s trio has 10 goals and 26 points.
Hayes’ line has scored 11 goals and 23 points.
- The Rangers have had a heavy home schedule so far and they’ve taken advantage of it, winning six of seven games. They’ve outscored their opponents 32-14 at MSG.
- The Oilers are 3-0-1 on the road, which is outstanding for them, but this will be their first road game outside of Canada and the first one against a team who made the playoffs last year.
- The Oilers had a great start, 7-2-1. They were 4-2 at home and 3-0-1 on the road with eight of the games against non-playoff teams. They did go 2-0 against the two playoff teams, however, defeating St.Louis and Washington. Tonight begins a more difficult ten-game stretch, on paper at least.
- The Oilers next ten games are all against playoff teams. They play seven on the road and three at home.
Rangers, Islanders, Red Wings and Cup Champions Penguins on this road trip.
Dallas and Rangers at home.
Anaheim, LA and Dallas on the road.
Chicago at home.
The Oilers were 6-15-3 against those eight teams last year. The good news is they were 4-3-1 versus the Eastern teams, defeating the Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Wings once each. They were 2-12-2 versus the Ducks, Stars, Kings and Hawks, and the five games against those teams will give us some insight to how much this team has improved. Regardless, this next ten-game stretch will be much more difficult than the first.
If the Oilers can muster five wins, or ten points, they would have 25 points thru 20 games and Oilersnation would have to consider their first quarter of the season a success.
- Many of you will remember SpiderMable – the 6-year-old cancer-fighting superhero who had her wish granted by the Children’s Wish Foundation to fight crime with Spider-Man in the City of Edmonton. After Mable’s wish day and the SpiderMable story took the media by storm, Mable has spent the following year paying her wish forward. Using her newfound celebrity status, Mable has been giving back to the many organizations that supported her during her battle with cancer by appearing as a spokesperson and representative at many events and fundraisers and raising countless dollars in the process. And now, the filmmakers of SpiderMable The Film want to tell this incredible story about one little girl’s transformation from cancer fighter, to superhero to charity ambassador, but they need your help. The filmmakers have launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to help raise the necessary funds to complete film. For more info on SpiderMable’s story and to contribute, go to igg.me/at/spidermablethefilm.
- We are having another exclusive NHL fantasy hockey draft tonight. It is free to play and you can win $$. Sign up at draftkings.com/gregor1260 before 5 p.m. MST. Good luck.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Rangers return to action Thursday against old friend Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers lead the Pacific Division with a 7-2-1 record, though they have hit an mild slump the past two games. That strong start has been keyed by Talbot and of course, Connor McDavid, who leads the league in scoring. New York is in the midst of five games in eight nights, having won the first two with a back-to-back looming this weekend.
The lineup tonight for New York will be the same as it was Tuesday night. That means Oscar Lindberg will be a healthy scratch again up front while Adam Clendening sits for the sixth straight contest. Look for Clendening to probably play one of the two games this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, I would sit one of G, Staal or quote likely Klein to get Clendening in the lineup.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: I picked the Oilers to lose against top teams like St.Louis and Washington and they proved me wrong. Maybe they will again, but with too many forwards in an offensive funk and the Rangers scoring at will, I see a NYR 3-2 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid will play 21 minutes and he won’t be fatigued. He also avoids his first ever three-game pointless streak.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: An Oilers D-man not named Nurse scores a goal. He’s the only one with a goal thus far, but Klefbom scores tonight to give Nurse some company among blueliners with goals.
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