Oilers Gameday: January 27th vs Predators  

Oilers Gameday: January 27th vs Predators  

 

Have the winds of change swept in some new weather in Oil Country? Riding a 2 game win streak, the Oilers will test their mettle tonight as they host a Predators team that has continued their strong play since the second half of last season.

 

No, these aren’t the Predators of their former playoff glory (ahem, 2017) that subsequently stagnated into mediocrity. These Preds have injected new life into their lineup despite having to work around long high priced contracts.

 

Of course the Oilers can ill afford to take any opponent lightly, and are a team desperate to turn their recent strong efforts into the norm. The time is now to start re-establishing this year’s squad as one destined for the postseason, and ultimately to provide a sense of positive momentum for the future.

 

Of course it’s impossible not to mention potential lineup changes that could increase the team’s level of play. Hyman who is returning perhaps as soon as tonight, Holloway who has hit the ground running in the AHL, and Kane who is rumoured to be close to singing.

 

With the outlook at forward improving the focus of any subsequent moves, say at the trade deadline, are sure to be focused on defence and/or goaltending. We’re expecting to see Saros and Koskinen in net for their respective teams, although there is sure to be some starts for Skinner on the horizon with a jam packed February schedule. The plan could be to try to ride out a strong stretch for Koskinen for as long as possible.

 

KEYS TO THE GAME

 

Edmonton:

  1. Contain Forsberg and Josi. Two truly elite talents at their positions, the Oilers will greatly increase their chances of winning if they can keep this pair in check.
  2. Penalty Kill. The Oilers have had their troubles on the PK and will need to be at their best against the efficient Nashville Power Play.

 

Nashville:

  1. Check. The Preds are well suited to be both patient and stingy against the Oilers, and any chance at victory rolls through a commitment to defence.

 

 

EXPECTED LINEUPS

 

Edmonton:

 

Nugent-Hopkins — McDavid — Yamamoto

Foegele — Draisaitl — Puljujarvi

Hyman — McLeod — Kassian

Sceviour — Ryan — Shore

 

Nurse — Bouchard

Keith — Ceci

Lagesson — Russell

 

Koskinen

Skinner

 

Nashville:

 

Forsberg — Granlund — Duchene

Cousins — Johansen — Kunin

Trenin — Sissons — Jeannot

Smith — McCarron — Tomasino

 

Josi — Benning

Ekholm — Carrier

Borowiecki — Tennyson

 

Saros

Rittich

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

 

Edmonton: The Oilers we’re buzzing, generating lots of chances in their last game, so there’s reason to believe the top 6 remains intact despite Hyman’s return.

 

I’ve been beating this drum for a while, but McLeod does show a lot of promise as a 3C. Perhaps we’ll see more of him and RNH switching spots on the road. Tippett noted a switch to the wing might free McLeod up for more offence, but I believe his contributions are greater as a strong shot suppressing centre. Having a high caliber winger who can compliment this style in Hyman is a fantastic opportunity to show a greater upside in this role.

 

I know it’s lower in the lineup but both Sceviour and Ryan ensure that the 4th line has some quality to it.

 

At this point both the Nurse-Bouchard and Keith-Ceci pairings should be cemented, and both have been strong in recent wins. There’s a reason to believe this might even be one of the better possible 3rd pairs the Oilers can put together.

 

Nashville: Forsberg is the premier player up front, well supported by the speedy and skilled pair of centre eligible Granlund and Duchene, who has bounced back offensively on the wing.

 

The 2nd and 3rd lines get similar icetime, Johansen anchoring a more offensive line with Luke Kunin who has taken off since joining from the Minnesota Wild, and has enough of a shooter mentality to take advantage of his veteran playmaking centre.

 

Trenin and Jeannot have been revaluations jumping up from the AHL, forming a line that’s low on name brand recognition but high on intensity and attention to detail with Sissons.

 

Even the fourth line has some intrigue with Tomasino, as the skilled forward finds his way as a pro.

 

Benning has been effective this season, mostly with Ekholm, but finds himself in the injured Fabbro’s spot alongside Josi who should warrant some Norris consideration should Nashville continue their strong season.

 

The switch likely happens because Ekholm’s more rugged and defensive style covers for Carrier’s more offensive lean, and this is a nice audition for the young defender to expand his role.

 

Nashville always seems to have talented goaltenders (and one day we’ll get to Askarov) and right now is no different with Jusse Saros in goal. Smaller than most goalies tend to be these days, Saros makes up for it with tremendous technique and superb footwork. A lot of young goalies see him as a favourite for this reason. 

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Charles writes for the Headline column of the website. He has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism. He has worked for more than 1.5 years in a media house. Now, he joined our team as a contributor for covering the latest US headlines. He is smart both by him looks and nature. He is very good with everyone in the team.