It’s been 15 days since the season began and tonight the Oilers are the last of 31 teams to have their home opener. The October schedule is bizarre and rough for Edmonton but looking over ahead to the full 82 game season Edmonton does garner some advantage; and that is in regard to playing teams on the second of back to back games.
18 times this year Edmonton plays against a team who played the night before, that is the most in the league with the New York Rangers coming in second at 14. The Oilers play the first of these tonight in their rematch vs the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins lost to the tune of 5-2 to the Calgary Flames. Bergeron and Marchand scored for Boston who continue to rack up points. Since being embarrassed by the Caps in the first game of the season, the Bergeron line has gone on to be one of the best lines in hockey having points in every game. Put one more way Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak combined have 34 points… more than every Oiler combined (29)
The Oilers were nowhere near at their best when they first faced off against the Bruins and after suffering a 4-1 defeat the Oilers have since gone off to win 2 in a row including one in dramatic fashion against the Jets.
The Oilers need to be the team they were in the third period of that game if they want to beat the Bullys.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Ty Rattie
Tobias Rieder – Leon Draisaitl – Jesse Puljujarvi
Milan Lucic – Ryan Strome – Kailer Yamamoto
Jujhar Khaira – Kyle Brodziak – Zack Kassian
Official lineups have not yet been released but these were the forward lines Todd had on for practice yesterday as well as the lines that had success against the Jets.
Caggiula did not skate and McLellan said it was a maintenance day for him. If Drake draws in it would likely be in the spot currently occupied by Rieder.
I will update the defensive pairings if they change. McLellan mentioned Bouchard and Benning may play together which is not ideal but considering how Garrisson played they don’t have much choice.
4 KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Cut Them Off At The Source. As I already mentioned, the Bruins top line is really really good but their scoring dries up heavily after that. For the first time this season Edmonton gets the advantage of second line change. The McDavid line and the Klefbom-Larsson pairing need to be at their best tonight. 2) A Good #2. Fans let out a collective “Finally” last game when McLellan rewarded Puljujarvi’s strong play with top 6 time. Jesse scored on a shift with McDavid and RNH and looked confident with Draisaitl. Leon needs a jump start and Pulj could be the one to give it to him. 3) Beating Halak. With Rask playing Calgary last night the Oilers will once again get Jaroslav Halak. Edmonton did not challenge Halak nearly enough in his first game and will need to fire shots from a variety of places and create some actual scoring chances. 4) Adventure Time. As of right now it appears that Benning and Bouchard will play together. On the one hand you have a player who hasn’t proven he is an NHL defenseman and on the other hand you have Evan Bouchard. This is a scary pairing that has hot mess written all over it. McLellan will have to use these two sparingly and hope they don’t get caught out against the Bergeron Line.
FILM OF THE DAY
After a perilous journey the Oilers have finally found their way home similar to the lovable scamps, Shadow, Sassy and Chance from Homeward Bound. Apologies in advance for making you cry at work.