GD12: Oilers @ Senators - Control
Last game against the Oilers and Senators was an offensive spectacle both ways with a total of 13 goals scored. Edmonton turned the game into a track meet and their gifted power up front was able to out class the fragile Sens. You can expect Tippett wants a far more controlled second game and does not want to see his team trading nearly as many chances.
The Senators have now lost 8 games in a row. Things are looking ugly in Ottawa. It is a situation I have little sympathy for. Edmonton far more recently than any would care to admit were in that exact same situation and very few fans of other teams reached out to show their support. It's the nature of professional sports. Tonight the Oilers should once again completely out-class the Senators if this team stands a hope of pushing up in the standings.
Some surprising changes by Dave Tippett tonight. On the plus Evan Bouchard will play in his first NHL game since October 25th 2018. The big and skilled defender has high expectations from the fanbase and certainly deserves a chance to prove himself considering the defense as a whole in front of him hasn't exceeded expectations.
With Bouchard in the lineup Tippett will be running 11 forwards and 7 defencemen. Part of this fact is likely a message to his group that defense will be the priority. It should also give us a chance to see McDavid or Draisaitl double shifting in the bottom six.
For some reason however James Neal who scored 2 goals last game against Ottawa is being taken out of the lineup for Alex Chiasson who cleared waivers this morning. Tippett says he likes the big body of Chiasson on the powerplay but Chiasson has done nothing to deserve that praise this season. Neal meanwhile has had some good underlying numbers on the third line and the play hasn't died on his stick. Another confusing move by the HC.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
SENATORS LINE COMBINATIONS
4 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1.) A Refreshed Effort - Edmonton seemed to have the upper hand through the first two periods while taking more of a backseat in the third but the stats paint a far worse picture. Natural Stat Trick had the High Danger Chances in favor of Ottawa 13-1. I don't necessarily agree with that however it's true Murray and Hogberg both let in some pretty weak shots and the PP did the rest for Edmonton. There needs to be a far stronger effort from Edmonton tonight.
2.) Bouchard - Tonight fans will likely be seeing Bouchard for the first time in a couple years. Bouchard was drafted 10th overall in 2018, a draft that has already seen the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Quinn Hughes, Adam Boqvist, Ty Smith, K'Andre Miller, and Noah Dobson graduate to the NHL. Tippett will slow play his rookie but hopefully we can see a few good plays from the 21 year old.
3.) No Sympathy - Tonight the fragile Senators will be without Chabot and have chosen not to go back to their starting goaltender Matt Murray who has been abysmal. At some point statistically Ottawa has to manage a win but let's not have it be against Edmonton tonight. Edmonton needs to hold their lines hostage tonight, put pressure on early, score quickly and make each Senators play go "here we go again."
4.) Third line Haas - Gaetan Haas played a good first game, skating well and positionally sound. It is telling that he is getting the nod on the third line right now over the struggling Kyle Turris. If Haas can make something happen in tonight's game we will likely see him stick there for a time.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They get to work early and score an even strength goal and are then able to shut the Senators down at the blue line.
THE SENATORS WIN IF...
The players bunker down, say enough is enough and physically outplay the Oilers in all puck battles.