Oilers vs Panthers Preview – Hendricks returns from suspension, Lander sits and the Oilers go with #GRIT



Game: Edmonton Oilers (18-23-5) at Florida Panthers (26-14-5)

Location: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

Time: 5:30 PM MT

Where to find it: TV: Sportsnet West – Radio: 630 CHED

Edmonton Oilers Preview:

After serving his three-game suspension for his illegal hit to Florida Panther Aaron Ekblad, Matt Hendricks returns to the lineup and looks to make an impact. He slides into the lineup on the fourth line, bumping Anton Lander to the press box – a move I could see coming for a while.

It’s not that Lander’s play has been horrible this year. He has fared well in the faceoff circle, as well as in his own zone, however he has only scored two points in 45 games played this year. Well off from the 20 points he scored in 38 games last year.

In his own right, Hendricks is well deserving of a chance to take more faceoffs. He currently leads all Oilers players with a 58% winning percentage in the dot.

Tonight appears like it will be a physical night, given that Hendricks is coming off of his suspension and that the Panthers are dressing tough-guy Shawn Thornton.

Luke Gazdic also draws into the lineup for the Oilers, and will flank Matt Hendricks’ left side on the fourth line. When together this season, Hendricks and Gazdic combine for a 57% Corsi For.

“We had a bit of a chippy one with Florida last time we played,” Gazdic said. “Some stuff happened in the previous game, and you’re never sure if there’s going to be a carry-over, but we’re just concerned about coming in and getting a win. If that stuff happens, we’re obviously ready for it. But we have a goal in mind, and that’s to come in and get two points.”

Rough Translation: “We’ll punch faces if we have to.”

Fresh off of signing the ink on a new, 3 year deal Cam Talbot gets the start. As I wrote about yesterday, I am a fan of this deal for him. It provides us with some stability in net moving forward, with the option in the third year of the deal to part way via a limited no trade clause should the team feel necessary.

The deal helps open things up for Edmonton moving forward as it will give us the ability to start to dip our toes more into the trade market now that we know where our cap is going into next year.

“I feel extremely confident,” Talbot said last night upon arrival in Florida. “I think it’s some of the best hockey I’ve played in my career. I’m starting to get really comfortable with what (Oilers Goalie Coach) Dustin (Schwartz) has been teaching all year.”

The Otherside:

Montoya is expected to make his 11th start of the season after Roberto Luongo played Sunday in a 3-1 loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a franchise-record 12 straight wins, the Panthers have lost three games in a row. “We needed to compete harder, put pucks on the net,” coach Gerard Gallant said. Despite the losing streak, Florida still leads the Atlantic Division with 57 points. Center Nick Bjugstad scored a goal in the third period against Tampa, his first since Nov. 21 against the New York Rangers. Florida plays its final four games before the All-Star break at BB&T Center. – nhl.com

Line Combos and Starting Goalies c/o Left Wing Lock:

Oilers (Cam Talbot):

Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Zack Kassian – Mark Letestu – Nail Yakupov
Luke Gazdic – Matt Hendricks – Iiro Pakarinen

Andrej Sekera – Mark Fayne
Darnell Nurse – Justin Schultz
Brandon Davidson – Eric Gryba

Florida Panthers (Al Montoya):
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen – Vincent Trochek – Reilly Smith
Brandon Pirri – Nick Bjugstad – Logan Shaw
Corban Knight – Derek MacKenzie – Quinton Howden

Brian Campbell – Erik Gudbranson
Willie Mitchell – Dmity Kulikov
Steven Kampfer – Alex Petrovic

Any ideas on how to improve my game previews? Send me an email at zjlaing@gmail.com.


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