The Oilers are back home for a game against the Wild after splitting their mini two-game road trip in Dallas and St. Louis. Here are your game day notes.
1. The Wild are playing in Edmonton tonight 24 hours of getting dropped 2-0 to the Calgary Flames. They fired 31 shots at Mike Smith but he stopped all of them. With the win, the Flames are now only one point behind Nashville and Colorado for first place in the Western Conference, while the Wild are now sitting outside the playoff picture.
2. Given the Wild played a tough game last night, the Oilers should have the advantage tonight. But this scene is the exact same as the first time these two teams met back in late October. The Wild got dropped 5-2 in Vancouver and then headed to Edmonton the next night. The Oilers would blow three different leads and end up losing the game 4-3.
3. The Wild are currently rolling in on their coldest streak of the season. They’ve dropped four of their past five games that has dropped them out of a playoff spot. They haven’t scored more than three goals in a game in that span and they’ve allowed four or more goals against in three of the five. This is a four-point game for Edmonton as Minnesota is a team they’ll be fighting with for a playoff spot.
4. Cam Talbot’s cold streak began the last time the Oilers played the Wild. Prior to that game, he had a decent .909 save percentage in nine games. He took the loss against the Wild, allowing an ugly game-winning goal from a sharp angle. After that, he would go on to drop his next six starts, posting an .855 save percentage over that span. He finally snapped that streak in St. Louis with that huge 3-2 shootout win on Wednesday. Talbot will get an opportunity to build on his strong start as he gets the start tonight against the Wild.
5. Devan Dubnyk will be in net for the Wild tonight. The Oilers’ 2004 first-round pick and former goalie of the future has generally done well against the his former team. In nine career games against the Oilers since being dealt back in 2014 for Matt Hendricks, Dubnyk has earned eight wins. He owns a .911 save percentage on the season this year and a .921 save percentage in parts of five seasons with the Wild.
6. The Wild rely on shutdown defence and strong goaltending to find success. They rank eighth in the league with 80 goals against through 28 games and they allow the fewest shots on goal (27.31 per 60 minutes) at even strength in the league. Minnesota has a good shutdown guy on both of their top two pairings. Ryan Suter is their No. 1 defenceman but Jonas Brodin, who anchors the second pair, is also a strong defender.
7. The Wild weren’t able to shut down Connor McDavid in the previous meeting this year. After Suter got burned badly on a goal by McDavid, head coach Bruce Boudreau went with the quicker Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon to deal with the Oilers captain. McDavid slaughtered them. The Oilers had 19 shot attempts for, only nine against, and seven high danger chances in the nine minutes in which Brodin and Spurgeon were up against the McDavid.
8. While the Wild are great defensively, they aren’t great at putting the puck in the net. That isn’t really the Bruce Boudreau mantra, but it’s always been a Minnesota Wild thing dating back to the expansion-era Jacques Lemaire days. They rank 17th in the league with 86 goals for, which is an average of just over three goals-per-game.
9. The Wild have a lot of underachieving forwards this season when it comes to offensive production. Jason Zucker, who had 33 goals last year, only has nine goals so far. Charlie Coyle, once a 20-goal scorer, only has four goals this year. Nino Niederreiter, another consistent 20-goal guy, has only three goals.
10. The Oilers made a flurry of roster moves yesterday. Valentin Zykov got his visa issues sorted out and was activated, Drake Caggiula went on the Injured Reserve, Patrick Russell got sent to the AHL, and Cooper Marody came back up. Zykov is on the fourth line with Ryan Spooner and Ty Rattie in an attempt to get some offence into the bottom-six. The weird thing, though, is bringing up Marody, a legit prospect, just to sit in the press box. Why not bring up somebody like Brad Malone who doesn’t have a future with the club to sit and watch?
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/07/2018 – 11:00 am MT