TALE OF THE TAPE:
Game: Edmonton Oilers (19-24-5) at Dallas Stars (29-13-5)
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Time: 6:30 PM MT
Where to find it: TV: Sportsnet West – Radio: 630 CHED
Edmonton Oilers Preview:
The old line blender has been roaring, as Todd McLellan looks to get the Oilers shored up defensively as they prepare to take on the high scoring Dallas Stars.
“It’s not just about moving Benny into the middle, it’s what I want to see from the team,” he said. “It’s a very dynamic offensive team Dallas has. They have a tendency to gain on teams here at home as far as (line) matching goes. We moved some people around to maybe take care of others on other lines… We’ll see what we get out of the movement of players.”
The lines feature Rob Kilnkhammer as the second line LW, and Benoit Pouliot sliding into the middle of the ice.
“I’ll be ready for it,” said Pouliot of tonight’s challenge. “It’s a lot different than playing wing, that’s for sure. You’ve got more stuff to worry about than if you’re a winger, but at the same time it keeps you on your game and keeps you focused the whole time. You get involved more with the puck and down low.”
Pouliot has taken 23 faceoffs this season, and won 13 of them.
Tonight’s game will prove to be an interesting one as each team has won one of the two matchups this season. On October 13th, Dallas won 4-2 thanks to Jason Spezza’s game winner, while the Oilers pulled out a 2-1 OT victory on December 4th thanks to a Jordan Eberle goal.
The Oilers are trying to fight through a weird stretch, where the team is without top centers Connor McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who just had surgery on his injured hand.
Matt Henderson at OilersNation had a really good piece today suggesting that Connor McDavid is in fact, 100% healthy and ready to go.
It is certainly not a bad thing that the Oilers are keeping McDavid on the sidelines, as the team has historically brought guys back from injury a bit too soon.
The Tony Romo situation with the Dallas Cowboys this year is a good example of taking your time with injuries.
Predictions for tonight:
- Rob Klinkhammer has a good game on the 2nd line, and sees some time on the Penalty Kill.
- Zack Kassian and Antoine Rousell fight. Rousell has historically gotten under the skin of the Hall and Eberle amongst others.
- Oilers win 3-2.
Dallas begins a three-game homestand trying to rediscover the moxie it took into the Christmas break. The Stars lost to the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 26; that started a stretch that has seen them go 3-6-3, including 0-5-3 on the road. “We have to work hard to turn around this thing,” forward Ales Hemsky, one of the goal scorers in a 3-2 loss Tuesday to the Los Angeles Kings, told the Stars website. “I think we did a little better job but we still have to play 60 minutes and battle hard, be comfortable playing those tight games. It’ll be tight games to the end. We’ll not see too many open games and it’ll be tough to score goals. So we just have to put everything in the net and play better.” Dallas entered play Wednesday leading the NHL with 154 non-shootout goals, but is averaging 2.58 goals over its past 12 games as compared to 3.51 over its first 35 games. – nhl.com
Line Combos and Starting Goalies c/o Left Wing Lock:
Oilers (Cam Talbot):
Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
Rob Klinkhammer – Benoit Pouliot – Jordan Eberle
Zack Kassian – Mark Letestu – Iiro Pakarinen
Matt Hendricks – Anton Lander – Nail Yakupov
Andrej Sekera – Mark Fayne
Darnell Nurse – Eric Gryba
Brandon Davidson – Justin Schultz
Dallas Stars (Antti Niemi):
Antoine Rousell – Mattias Janmark – Ales Hemsky
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Valeri Nichushkin – Cody Eakin – Jason Spezza
Colton Sceviour – Vern Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberk
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Esa Lindell – Jyrki Jokipakka
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