The Edmonton Oilers return to Rexall tonight to face David Perron’s old squad, the St. Louis Blues, in what will be the first of three meetings between the teams.
Craig MacTavish hasn’t had a perfect start to his tenure as general manager, but he’s done some nice things and been willing to make improvements when opportunity has come along. One of those opportunities was Perron, who became available as the Blues needed to cut salary to re-sign players like Alex Pietrangelo.
Thus far, the deal’s been awfully lopsided:
- David Perron (Edmonton): 33GP, 14G-13A-27PTS.
- Magnus Paajarvi (St. Louis): 15GP, 2G-0A-2PTS.
- Second round pick in 2014 (St. Louis): Shaping up to be in the 30-35 range.
Once Paajarvi finds his legs and if that second round pick pans out this should get a little better for St. Louis, but it’s a move that made Edmonton a better team right now, and that’s important. If MacTavish can find three or four more of these the Oilers will be in great shape.
Edmonton hasn’t played the Blues so far this year, but the Blues are a good team and Edmonton has trouble with good teams. Many will focus on them being big and strong and tough but the fact that they’re in playoff position right now is what makes them scary. Take a look at the Oilers’ record this season against teams currently sitting in the top-eight in either conference:
- Team inside the top eight: 2-17-2
- Team outside the top eight: 9-6-1
Edmonton’s been pretty good against bad teams, but has been getting hammered by the good ones (an 8-2 win over Colorado notwithstanding).
Some interesting items there. With all of 12 healthy forwards, Dalls Eakins hasn’t got much in the way of choices, so he’s put together a power-vs.-power line, a tough minutes line and done what he can with the rest. With Luke Gazdic on the wing it’s a good bet that Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov are the “fourth” line and will be spotted against the weakest available opposition; maybe it will help. The other line is super interesting, because Lander has struggled so far and finally gets a skilled guy (and a guy a lot like his AHL sidekick Linus Omark) on his wing. Jesse Joensuu isn’t exactly a prize as the other winger, but he’s comparable to one guy Lander’s been playing with and better than the other.
On defence it’s just nice to see Philip Larsen, the team’s seventh-best defenceman, taking a seat.
Game day prediction: A 1-0 St. Louis Blues victory
Obvious game day prediction: Dallas Eakins gets many opportunities to work on his facial expressions. They range from incredulous (really, that’s a penalty now?) to disgusted (the power play bobbles the puck at the blueline because of course it does) to resigned (well, they were going to score eventually) to a clear desire that he had stayed in the AHL.
Not-so-obvious gameday prediction: While this will be a one-sided and boring game, it won’t be the most boring game of the season. That’s coming in March when Edmonton next plays the Los Angeles Kings.
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