TALE OF THE TAPE:
Game: Edmonton Oilers (22-31-6) vs Colorado Avalanche (30-26-4)
Location: Rexall Place, Edmonton
Time: 8:00 PM MT
Where to find it: TV: CBC – Radio: 630 CHED
Edmonton Oilers Preview:
After losing another tough one against the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers need to find some way to get back on track. But really, what is the track? Obviously this team is in a position where every single win counts and they have been hard to come by in 2016.
After a solid December where the Oilers went 7-6-1 the team has only won seven of their last 20 games starting on Jan 1.
The truth is, I really don’t know what to write about in these pregames anymore. The Oilers are not winning games, and there are a few reasons you can pin it on.
Mainly, the team just isn’t good enough. The injuries have piled up all season and as weird it sounds the injury to Eric Gryba is a big one too. He has been a really solid 3rd pairing guy for us this year and there isn’t anyone on the Oilers defence who plays like Gryba does.
Despite the fact the injuries have piled up, the Oilers do not have the organizational depth to have players come up from the Bakersfield Condors and fill in at an acceptable level. Brad Hunt, Rob Klinkhammer, Andrew Miller, Nikitia Nikitin and Griffin Reinhart just were unable to perform at the level we needed them too. In order for this team to be able to survive a full 82 game schedule – let alone a playoff run – there needs to be players that can slide into the lineup and be effective players.
JJ Khaira was a pleasant surprise earlier in the year and outperformed my expectations which is good to see. Hopefully he will be back up.
Despite the fact that Oscar Klefbom has been lost for nearly the entire season, Connor McDavid missed 37 games with the *shudder* Broken Clavicle and now Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out with a broken hand things are not easy. Really, that’s two top six centres as well as the defenceman who is arguably the best on the Oilers.
It’s tough to watch, because you see this top six group of forwards who are just oozing with talent and ability, but they aren’t able to be as effective as they can be. The bottom six of this Oilers team is a mess sans Matt Hendricks and Iiro Pakarinen (who is awesome).
Nail Yakupov is having a complete identity crisis as he tries to find out how to play in the NHL. He has all of the offensive ability to play in the top six, but he plays the game faster than he processes it. That is a problem for someone who has been an elite winger his whole career and now he is stuck playing a bottom six role he is not accustomed to.
I don’t even want to get started on the backend. I’m literally not even talking about it until the trade deadline is over.
The Oilers have the ability to beat a team like Colorado given the similarities between how the rosters are made up. I’m such an optimist that I feel the Oilers can win any game on any given night, but that doesn’t
often happen when it should. Look at a game like Minnesota, where the Oilers dominated the even strength game all night but stupid mistakes put us on the Penalty Kill where the Wild capitalized on their opportunity.
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Okay, enough ranting. I feel a lot better now. Thanks for putting up with that.
Go Oilers, and hopefully we pull out a W.
Predictions for tonight:
- The Oilers break their losing streak, and end beat the Avs 3-0. CAM TALBOT SHUT OUT!
- Nail Yakupov scores for his second in two games.
- Connor McDavid does McDavidian things.
Goalie Calvin Pickard will start, and Varlamov will play against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Goalie Reto Berra was sent to San Antonio of the American Hockey League for a two-week conditioning assignment. Berra has been out since Dec. 29 with an ankle injury. Defenseman Nate Guenin also was assigned to San Antonio. The Avalanche have won three of their past four games and hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference with 22 games remaining. General manager Joe Sakic told the Avalanche website he won’t give up young players and draft picks in moves prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29. “We could use another puck-management forward and a solid D-man,” he said. “You are not going to get top-four [defensemen]. Teams aren’t giving those guys up.” Forward Jarome Iginla has four goals and six points in his past four games. – nhl.com
Line Combos and Starting Goalies c/o Left Wing Lock:
Oilers (Cam Talbot):
Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
Benoit Pouliot – Connor McDavid – Jordan Eberle
Zack Kassian – Mark Letestu – Nail Yakupov
Lauri Korpikoski – Matt Hendricks – Iiro Pakarinen
Andrej Sekera – Justin Schultz
Darnell Nurse – Mark Fayne
Brandon Davidson – Nikita Nikitin
EDM Injuries: Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Eric Gryba (knee).
Scratched: Adam Clendening, Anton Lander
Colorado Avalanche (Calvin Pickard):
Mikhail Grigorenko – Matt Duchene – Jarome Iginla
Gabriel Landeskog – Carl Soderberg – Blake Comeau
Alex Tanguay – Nathan Mackinnon – Jack Skille
Cody McLeod – John Mitchell – Andreas Martinsen
Francois Beauchemin – Erik Johnson
Nick Holden – Tyson Barrie
Andrew Bodnarchuk – Chris Bigras
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