G45 Game Notes: Edmonton Oilers host Nashville Predators before heading into All-Star break
By Cam Lewis25 days ago
1. The Edmonton Oilers are hosting the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon for their final game before going into the All-Star break. The Oilers are riding a franchise-record 15-game winning streak and they’re only two victories shy of matching the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins for the longest run in league history at 17 games.
After the All-Star break, the Oilers will go on a three-game Pacific Division road trip against the Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks, and Los Angeles Kings. A win against Nashville on Saturday would present the Oilers with an opportunity to make history in Vegas against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
2. But before that, the Oilers need to get the job done against the Predators, a solid opponent who’s fighting for a playoff spot. The Preds own a 26-21-1 record on the season and sit seventh in the Western Conference. There are six teams behind them in the standings within six points, leaving little room for a cold streak in the latter part of the season.
Nashville had a good stretch in late November and December but they’ve been trading water so far in January. Since the calendar flipped to 2024, the Preds have gone 6-5-0. They’ve managed to score more than three goals in just two of those games, both of them wins over the Dallas Stars.
3. This will be the third and final meeting between the Oilers and Predators this season. Edmonton won the first game between the two teams by a score of 6-1 for their first win of the season, and then the Preds downed the Oilers by a score of 5-2 a few weeks later.
That win by Nashville in the second game was their first in regulation against the Oilers since October of 2018, a stretch that saw Edmonton go 10-0-2 against the Preds over the course of five years. Leon Draisaitl had one of the most dominant runs against a single opponent you’ll ever see, as he scored 22 goals and 34 points against the Preds over those 12 games.
4. Corey Perry will make his Edmonton Oilers debut against Nashville on Saturday and he’ll suit up on the third line next to Ryan McLeod and Dylan Holloway. The fourth line will feature three of Mattias Janmark, Derek Ryan, Connor Brown, or Sam Gagner, though it isn’t known yet which of the four will watch from the press box.
5. The Preds were in a similar spot at this point in the season last year, as they went into the All-Star break with a 24-18-6 record, good for 10th in the Western Conference at the time.
The team wound up selling ahead of the trade deadline, as Mattias Ekholm was traded to the Oilers and Mikael Granlund was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Preds ultimately finished the season in 10th place and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14.
What about this year? The Preds have eight players on their active roster who are set to become unrestricted free agents this summer (Tyson Barrie, Alexandre Carrier, Kevin Lankinen, Yakov Trenin, Denis Gurianov, Thomas Novak, Michael McCarron, Kiefer Sherwood) and there are a couple more who can hit the open market in July of 2025 (Gustav Nyquist, Juuse Saros).
Among all of those names, goaltender Juuse Saros is the one who will garner the most interest. After finishing fourth and third in Vezina Trophy voting in the past couple of years, Saros is having a down year in 2023-24, as the 28-year-old netminder owns a .904 save percentage through 38 starts.
Top goaltending prospect Yaroslav Askarov has been dominant in the AHL, with a 0.921 save percentage over 23 starts to build on the .911 save percentage he posted as a rookie in the league in 2022-23. The obvious move for Nashville would be eventually trading Saros and calling up Askarov, though it’s worth considering what the Preds would be able to receive in exchange for a potentially elite goalie on a cheap entry-level contract.
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