GDB 31.0: Oilers visit Rangers in final game before Christmas break (5:30pm MT, SNW)
By Cam Lewis2 months ago
For the first time this season, the Edmonton Oilers are playing games on back-to-back days. Fortunately, this isn’t a two games in two cities in two nights situation, as the Oilers beat the New Jersey Devils by a score of 6-3 yesterday and will play the New York Rangers tonight.
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Thursday’s win in Newark snapped a three-game losing streak for the Oilers and put them in a position to go into the Christmas break with a .500 record. Edmonton currently sits at 14-15-1, seven points behind the Arizona Coyotes for the second Wild-Card position in the Western Conference with four other teams to jump over.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will be playing the first game of a back-to-back, as they’ll host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday before heading into the break. They’re currently riding a three-game winning streak and have a 22-7-1 record on the season, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
GAME DAY PRESENTED BY BETWAY
F1: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zach Hyman
F2: Evander Kane – Leon Draisaitl – Warren Foegele
F3: Mattias Janmark – Ryan McLeod – Sam Gagner
F4: Adam Erne – James Hamblin – Derek Ryan
D1: Darnell Nurse – Cody Ceci
D2: Mattias Ekholm – Evan Bouchard
D3: Brett Kulak – Vincent Desharnais
G: Stuart Skinner
The Oilers made a couple of lineup changes against the Devils and it appears they’ll carry forward with what worked for them. Adam Erne drew into the lineup in place of Connor Brown, who was a healthy scratch, and scored his first goal as a member of the Oilers. Sam Gagner was moved to Brown’s spot on the third line and he picked up two assists.
The blueline will remain the same as usual and Stuart Skinner will get the start between the pipes after Calvin Pickard earned the win last night. Skinner allowed eight goals on 43 shots across his last two outings and badly needed a rest after starting seven of the eight games on Edmonton’s winning streak.
F1: Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Blake Wheeler
F2: Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trochek – Alexis Lafreniere
F3: Will Cuylle – Nick Bonino – Jonny Brodzinski
F4: Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Tyler Pitlick
D1: Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
D2: K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
D3: Erik Gustafsson – Braden Schneider
G: Jonathan Quick
The Rangers are expected to start Jonathan Quick rather than Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin, but that won’t be a break for the Oilers. The veteran Quick has been the better of New York’s two goaltenders this season, as he has a .926 save percentage over 11 appearances and hasn’t lost in a game in regulation.
This game will feature a difficult special teams battle for the Oilers. The Rangers sit in a tie with the Devils for the league’s best power play at 31.25 percent and they have the fourth-highest penalty kill at 85.26 percent. Their best five-on-five line has been the trio of Panarin, Trochek, and Lafreniere, who have combined for 22 goals at even strength. Jimmy Vesey has also chipped in seven even-strength goals for the Rangers from the bottom six.
Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers head into the break on a positive note with a 3-1 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: All four goals come at even strength as both teams work hard to avoid the penalty box.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Sam Gagner continues to stir the drink with a goal and an assist in the win.
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