Cam Talbot didn’t practice this morning and head coach Todd McLellan confirmed he is very doubtful for tomorrow’s tilt against Colorado. He is out with an illness and won’t be available tomorrow. We will find out later today if the Oilers recall Laurent Brossoit to backup Al Montoya.
It isn’t ideal timing, but Montoya has played well when he’s been called upon in relief since being acquired from Montreal. In 120 minutes coming off the bench, Montoya has a .956sv% and a 1.00 GAA. Peter Chiarelli acquired Montoya because he wanted a consistent, reliable veteran to fill in when Talbot needed a night off, or in this case wasn’t able to play.
So far he’s done it in relief, and now he’ll get his chance to win a game as a starter.
Montoya won’t be nervous. This will be his 132nd start in the NHL. He doesn’t need to be spectacular, just steady.
Zack Kassian didn’t skate either, for family reasons, but he should be available tomorrow according to McLellan. Adam Larsson will not play as he is still attending to a personal situation.
The Oilers practice started at 11 a.m. this morning on Rogers ice, but the powerplay was out early on the community rink working on things. The PP has plummetted down the rankings since November 20th. They are 7 for 75 in their last 29 games, for a league-low 9.3%. It is vital their PP improves. Same goes for the PK.
The Oilers lines at practice were the similar to what they ended last Thursday’s game versus Calgary with. The Oilers did not start well, and switched up the lines (although it was only eleven forwards) midway through the game, and came back to win 4-3 in a shootout.
These were the lines this morning. Kassian is likely to dress tomorrow, and I’d guess Iiro Pakarinen comes out for him. McClellan said earlier this week Mark Letestu will likely return to the lineup so I see them going with four lines.
I like Khaira down the middle, and while I’m still not sold as Strome as a centre, he did play very well versus Calgary. I don’t make too much of the lines, since they can change quickly, but I have more of an issue with how the lineup looks considering some of the wingers they traded recently. You’d like a bit more scoring power, no question, and the injury to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins does play a factor of course, but this lineup has a lot of players who have yet to establish themselves as consistent NHLers. You see lots of positives from Khaira and Jesse Puljujarvi, and some glimpses from Strome, Slepyshev and Caggiula, but they will need those players to start contributing regularly if they want a balanced attack.
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