We love HOME games; have Liquor Depot delivery in under an hour. Click, pick, sit back and watch the game.
The Buffalo Sabres are banged up, especially on the backend. Josh Gorges has a non-displaced fracture in his foot, Dmitri Kulikov has a bruised back, Zack Bogosian has a strained MCL and Taylor Fedun is day-to-day.
Jack Eichel was labouring last night in the Sabres’ 3-2 OT loss to Washington, and while he said he was okay this morning, he clearly isn’t 100%. They also have forwards Tyler Ennis and Cody McCormick on the sidelines.
The Oilers play their first of three games in four nights this evening, and taking advantage of an injury-riddled Sabres team playing on back-to-back nights is a must.
The Sabres embarrassed the Oilers 6-2 in Edmonton on October 16th. Todd McLellan ripped his team during his post-game press conference and they haven’t played that poorly since.
This is another game the Oilers are very capable of winning, but they will face former Oilers Anders Nilsson. Nilsson has played exceptionally for the Sabres this season. He is 4-2-2 with a 2.30 GAA and .934sv%.
The Oilers only managed one point in three consecutive games versus Arizona (twice) and Toronto, but they have proven they are more capable of learning from their mistakes this season than repeating them. They can’t settle for outside shots tonight, and they need to attack the inexperienced defence of the Sabres.
Eric Burgdeorfer played his first NHL game last night.
Brendan Guhle (from Sherwood Park) was an emergency recall from Prince George of the WHL late last week and he has played two NHL games.
Jake McCabe has 111 games of experience while Justin Falk, Cody Franson and Rasmus Ristolainen round out their D corps. Ristolainen is very good. He played 29:51 last night, while McCabe played 28:52. The Oilers have to attack those two and hope fatigue becomes a factor.
Matt Hendricks and Jesse Puljujarvi draw back in while Benoit Pouliot and Anton Slepyshev are out. The bottom three lines are all different from last game, as Maroon moves up to the second line, while Kassian will play with Caggiula and Puljujarvi.
This will cause much debate within Oilersnation. Debate is good, and sitting guys out is not an easy decision for McLellan. Certain players fit in different spots, and some players can be effective in ten minutes while other can’t. It is a great problem to have, and for a talk-show host it is excellent to debate who should be in or out.
Pouliot has one point in his last 17 games. He’s played 15+ minutes in 14 of those games. He’s been given every opportunity to produce and at $4 million/year they need more from him. I don’t see how anyone can defend his play since October 28th. It simply has not been good enough.
Some will argue he’s still better than Hendricks, which is fair, but he isn’t producing and he hasn’t been as effective on the forecheck or at creating turnovers as he has in the past. Is he better than Hendricks in a fourth line role playing 10 minutes a game? It is debatable, considering he hasn’t played that role in years.
I believe McLellan sits Pouliot because he isn’t producing at the level to which he is expected. I don’t see it as hating on a player, simply trying to get his attention. I don’t think he has played awful lately, but he has not been playing up to his capabilities. I can also see him putting Hendricks in because he’s an energy player and the Oilers didn’t have a lot of jump on Sunday. There are always many factors in play when a coach changes his lineup.
They didn’t skate today, and Fedun might be able to play tonight. Eichel will play.
- Guhle has played second pair minutes in this two games. Dan Bylsma has a lot of confidence in him and Guhle has not looked out of place. His solid play in Buffalo just confirms how ridiculous it is that he wasn’t invited to Canada’s WJC camp. He is very good and I’m stunned they choose 10 D-men ahead of him. I’d happily wager he has a better NHL career than many of the D-men on Canada’s WJC roster this year.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
1. Will McDavid dominate Buffalo like he did last year?
The NHL’s leading scorer comes to Buffalo tonight, and the last time McDavid was in town, he scored both goals in a 2-1 Edmonton win. He has 34 points in 27 games this season, and has taken the next step towards challenging for the title of “Best Player in the NHL.”
The Sabres and their banged-up defense will have their hands full with McDavid, who’s combination of speed and skill is unrivaled in the NHL today. Connor hasn’t registered a point in two games, so you know he’ll be itching to get back on the score sheet, especially with his Eichel on the other side.
2. Speaking of Eichel, will he show any ill effects from his ankle non-re-injury?
For 30 seconds yesterday, Buffalo Twitter almost burned itself to the ground when Eichel gingerly skated back to the bench and the TV cameras caught him writhing in pain on the bench.
Thankfully, he played the rest of the game and says he’s feeling great for tonight’s game. We’ll be keeping an eye on his acceleration and quickness tonight, and for any other lingering effects of his recovery from a high ankle sprain that kept him out for the first meeting between these two teams, a 6-2 drubbing of the Oilers in Edmonton.
MONTH OF GIVING
Thank you A-1 Heating for the outstanding donation of a high efficiency furnace and thanks to Miles for the awesome $5,500 bid. Operation Friendship Seniors Society really needed the help, so thank you both.
The Base is a sport performance facility that offers the best in training, treatment and nutrition. The 16,000 square foot gym boasts state-of-the art equipment, indoor turf, a forty yard sprint track, and a smoothie bar.
The Base is offering a training package of 30 sessions with one of their personal trainers. The package will get you a customized one-on-one training plan. This is great for athletes looking to push to the next level, or average Joes/Jills who simply want to get faster and stronger.
- A $1,000 shopping spree at Mr Derk.
- And One Renoir Suit.
- Includes all the tailoring for your suit and all the clothes you purchase.
- In store consultation with Sterling Derk to ensure you fill out your wardrobe properly.
- And a pair of tickets to Sunday’s Oilers/Jets game.
Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards Santas Anonymous.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers improve to 9-4-2 on the road with a 4-1 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In 72 career games, McDavid has yet to go three games without a point. After going pointless on Saturday and Sunday, #97 picks up two points tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kassian scores his first goal since October 23rd, and picks up his third point in four games.
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