The Oilers are back at again this afternoon as they take on the Colorado Avalanche for the second of three meetings on the season. Will they avenge the loss from earlier this month? We shall see.
When these two teams last met just over two weeks ago, the Oilers spotted the Avalanche two goals right off the hop and were forced to claw their way back into the game before it was even 20 minutes old. You’d hope that they’d learn from that mistake but it doesn’t seem to be sinking in. Yesterday, the Oilers allowed a goal on the first shot of the hockey game for the 11th time. Unfortunately for everyone watching, being down by a goal or two at the start of the game has happened so often this season that I’m starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Every time the Oilers hand out one of those early gifts we’re all Bill Murray rolling over to smash the alarm clock, cursing Sonny and Cher while we’re at it. What I don’t know is how long will it be before we get to the middle of the movie and this madness pushes us into allowing Punxsutawney Phil to drive us all off a cliff in a stolen truck. After yesterday’s loss to the Coyotes, I feel like rock bottom can’t be too far off.
For the 2017-18 edition of the Edmonton Oilers, seeing a matinee game on the schedule can generally only mean bad news and another loss likely going up on the board. Seeing not one but two of them in a back-to-back weekend scenario is kind of like trying to surgically remove your own appendix on your kitchen table. Sure, there’s a chance that everything goes right and that you handle your business but there’s an even better chance that you’ll bleed out, leaving a lifeless corpse behind for a loved one to find. Okay, that’s a bit much but my point is that the Oilers have had a tonne of matinee games this season and that they’ve stunk in pretty much all of them, so my hopes for a win were diminished just by seeing the start time. Winning is obviously the point of the game but in matinees, the Oilers seem to have a really hard time understanding that.
For someone that’s eating beets after every loss (26 cans and counting btw) seeing two matinees on the same weekend was a cue to check on the toilet paper reserves to make sure that the whole Family Day weekend wasn’t ruined. How will the Oilers fare in back-to-back matinees with starts less than 24 hours apart? Can they finally end the losing streak? Time will tell.
NUMBERS TO KNOW…
- The Avalanche are 23-16-4 since trading Matt Duchene back in November and they’ve done a really good job of moving on from what was clearly a distraction. That said, in their last five games, the Avalanche are sporting a mediocre record of 4-5-1 which is an obvious cool down from January, a month in which they were red hot.
- Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avs in scoring with 61 points (24G, 37A), but he hasn’t played since January 30th when he went down with a shoulder injury. He did not play on Friday against the Jets but all signs point to him being back in the lineup for this afternoon’s game against the Oilers.
- Looking at our boy, Yak. The struggle is real for the former first-overall pick as he has only two assists in his last 10 games and four points (1G, 3A) total in his last 20 games. Remember his rookie season when he finished the year with a hat trick and we all thought he was going to be a sniper? Those were simpler times, weren’t they? Yak was a healthy scratch in Colorado’s game on Friday night which is never a good sign. I guess, a lot has changed since the opening week.
- The Oilers come into today’s game riding a six-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored by a 26-14 margin. Not only has their goal scoring dried up (if it was ever there to begin with) but their goaltending is equally porous which is about as lethal of a combination as you can get.
- Speaking of scoring slumps, Milan Lucic’s goalless streak hit 21 games yesterday in Arizona. He had a couple of shots on net in that game but was unable to get the monkey off his back. Maybe today? Gord knows the Oilers need him to start producing.
- Connor McDavid has been held pointless in his last two games, something that hasn’t happened since the December 29th-January 2nd games against Chicago, Winnipeg, and Los Angeles. Since that time, the captain has been on a tear, climbing up the points race in the process. I wouldn’t bet against him to end the scoreless streak today against the Avs.
At the time of posting, there weren’t any line combos released yet so I went with what the Oilers finished the game with against the Coyotes. As for Brossoit or Montoya, there wasn’t anything on Twitter yet but I’ll keep checking it out. As always, I’ll update the lines as news comes out.
***UPDATE*** Interesting that the Oilers that Brossoit won’t get the start if Montoya is still feeling concussion symptoms after getting hit in the head in practice. It also looks like Matt Benning is back in the lineup after sitting out yesterday in Glendale. For some reason, Puljujarvi drops to the fourth line.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Since MacKinnon went down, his linemates — Gabe Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen — have not scored a goal. Without MacKinnon and Comeau, Landeskog and Rantanen have moved to different lines, with rookie Alex Kerfoot centering Landeskog and Colin Wilson and Rantanen replacing Comeau on the second line with center Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto.
Colorado, now two points of the final Western Conference playoff spot, desperately needs to get MacKinnon, Landeskog and Rantanen back together. That line is considered among the most dangerous in the NHL.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Avalanche won the last meeting between these two teams in overtime, and the Oilers return the favour tonight, ending their losing streak with 3-2 OT win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the 38th time this season, the Oilers give up the first goal of the hockey game.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: A large chunk of the crowd at the Pepsi Center will miss the first period because of indecision at the concession stands. Legal weed problems.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 02/18/2018 – 9:00am MST