GD3: Canadiens @ Oilers: Mikko Take The Wheel
Last night the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 5-3 to the Ottawa Senators and were outshot 24-23. I'm not only posting this because I enjoy when Toronto loses but also because it's an important reminder that any team can win on any given night. The Sens are being projected by everyone to finish last in the North Division but they still have some excellent players. It's crucial that the Edmonton Oilers don't underestimate any of their opponents and at the very least show the same work ethic they did in their last game against the Canucks.
Tonight the Oilers will face off in the first of two home games against the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal lost their first game in OT against the Leafs in a game that had a very similar feel to the Oilers first game. Every team is still figuring things out and playing their way into game shape. Normally this would seem insignificant but Edmonton may have an edge simply from playing one additional game.
I'm assuming that Carey Price will get the start but one wonders if it would be better for Montreal to start Jake Allen. Carey Price has a 3-9-1 record against Edmonton and a 0.861SV%. For some reason the Oilers seem to have Price to rights.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
- It looks like Khaira will be out tonight, with Devin Shore replacing him. Khaira has done absolutely nothing with his position and it's good to see Tippett sit him quickly.
- It also appears as if Ennis is ready to get back into the lineup and will play. Jason Gregor of TSN1260 has reported that Nygard and Ennis will both play tonight so my guess is that Chiasson will be the other player to sit.
- Koskinen will start because who else will? The Edmonton Oilers claimed Troy Grosenick off waivers from the LA Kings. The 31 year old has only appeared in 2 NHL games and is a career AHL goalie with solid numbers. This feels like more of a replacement for Forsberg than a solution for Mike Smith.
CANADIENS LINE COMBINATIONS
4 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1.) The Josh Anderson Show: Josh Anderson came over in a trade which sent Max Domi to Columbus. Anderson had a great 18/19 campaign before injuries derailed him. He rewarded the Canadiens faith in him by potting 2 goals in his first game. The 6'3 226lb forward could give Edmonton trouble. I see Tippett putting the Draisaitl line against him.
2.) Something From The 4th We are talking about a grossly small sample size but the issues from last season are still showing with the third and fourth lines getting caved offensively. I have confidence in Turris and Puljujarvi and the way they are playing will reward them with goals but the 4th line was a black hole in both games. Tonight we could see two players out (Khaira/Chiasson) and the new guys will be itching to take over.
3.) Just Like Old Times: Last game felt like a 19/20 season throwback. Edmonton went 50% on the powerplay, scoring on 2 of 4 chances while shutting down the Canucks own powerplay 0/5. Special teams were a strength last season and there is no reason to suspect that this team cannot come close to replicating it.
4.) Barrieng Ahead: Tyson Barrie is coming as advertised so far. The defenseman loves jumping into the play and his shot has caused chaos for the opposition. In the defensive zone there have been some issues but he has a quick stick and can recover fast. As he becomes more accustomed to playing with the fastest player on the planet I think we will start to see him earning some more assists on plays.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They bring the same intensity and work ethic they had through the first two periods of their last game.
THE CANADIENS WIN IF...
The Anderson line out chances the Draisaitl line and Kotkaniemi and Toffoli connect on a goal.
Thanks for reading.