The penultimate preseason game is done, and the regular season is in sight.
The Oilers fell 5-4 in what was a back-and-forth game the whole way through. Playing in Abbotsford, neither team held a two-goal lead at any point in time.
There are a few things to talk about, so let’s look at three things from last night’s game.

Connor McDavid remains extremely good at hockey

Hey, have you ever heard of this McDavid kid? Sure, he may have played in only three preseason games so far, but he’s got two points including a beautiful goal last night.
He absolutely blew by Canucks top-pairing defenceman Quinn Hughes and scored a beauty of a goal.
I know it’s preseason and we have to be careful about getting too excited about players, but I think there’s a really good shot this McDavid kid could make the Oilers roster. Top-six minutes with time on the powerplay could very well be in his future.
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Things get physical… and sloppy

Last weekend, Darnell Nurse erroneously fought someone named Mitch McLain — a career AHL’er — twice in the same game. Last night, Nurse tried to lay a big hit on Nils Hoglander and swung his elbow around catching the latter hard in the face. You can see the clip below.
Nurse is clearly playing on the edge here this preseason. He’s been looking for big hits and clearly hasn’t shied from dropping the mitts. Fighting a career AHL’er isn’t smart. Swinging your elbow on a player isn’t smart and it wouldn’t shock me if the NHL Department of Player Safety makes him sit for a game or two because of it. Stuff like that is unacceptable.
He was also suspended last year in the playoffs for game six against the LA Kings after headbutting Phillip Danault. He forced the Oilers to go run 11 forwards and seven defencemen and while Connor McDavid and Evander Kane went nuclear with three-point performances, they got a little bit lucky.
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Darnell wasn’t the only one taking liberties. Derek Ryan caught Quinn Hughes with a rough high-stick in the neutral zone early in the third period, and then seconds later Markus Niemelainen buried Elias Pettersson with a hit from behind. Ryan’s penalty was undisciplined, while Niemelainen’s hit was inexcusable. It was textbook boarding and right in the most concerning spot on the ice.
As a whole, the Oilers gave up a staggering eight powerplays. Monday against Vancouver they took five. Last Saturday against Winnipeg it was six. Against Calgary last Wednesday and Friday, they took three each game. In preseason game number two, the Oilers took six. In the preseason opener, it was four.
For those counting, the Oilers have now given up 35 powerplays to the opposition posting an 82.8 PK%. Edmonton gave up three powerplay goals last night and that was a major determining factor in the final score. Simply put, the Oilers need to seriously find a level of discipline heading into Friday and the regular season next week.
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One. More. Game.

We’re almost there, folks. This season has seemingly taken forever to get through and Friday night will mark the last preseason game this year for the Oilers.
Thank god.
The Oilers have some tough decisions ahead of them leading into Monday. With Tyler Benson destined for the LTIR, it doesn’t sound like it will afford the Oilers any extra cap space.
So here are the questions that still need to be answered, and what may happen, based on who’s still with the team:
  • Jake Virtanen and Jason Demers are both on PTOs still. Virtanen has done nothing to separate himself from a deep forward group, and I’m not convinced Demers is more than an eighth defenceman. I could see them both being released, but I could also see Demers signed to a deal and put through waivers. He pegs in as a No. 8/9 in my eyes, but could be a good vet for the Condors, should he be interested.
  • Brad Malone and James Hamblin will be destined for Bakersfield as will goaltender Calvin Pickard.
  • Also in the forward group, I haven’t seen much from Mattias Janmark to separate him from the other forwards. I think he’s Bakersfield bound.
  • Lastly, the biggest question that remains is what happens on the blue line. Jason Gregor wrote about it here yesterday in the GDB. I think Ryan Murray makes the team as a 6/7, but which of Philip Broberg, Dmitri Samorukov, or Markus Niemelainen make it? That I’m not sure of. Each brings a different element to the ice.

The Clips


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

#NATIONVACATION TO LAS VEGAS

  • When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
  • Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
  • What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
  • How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy)
  • Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.