The Edmonton Oilers lost their second straight last night to the Nashville Predators 2-0. The Oilers, who are in third place in the Pacific division, have yet to win a game since returning the All-Star break. The shutout loss last night marks only the second time this season that the Oilers have failed to register a goal.
The Oilers enter tonight's game 3-1-2 in the second half of back-to-backs. They have only 10 back-to-backs all season, the fewest in the NHL; by comparison, the Canes have already played 10 and start their 11th tonight. Much like the Canes, the Oilers are a young team and don't require as much rest as an older team. What will be interesting in the game is to see how the defense and their goaltending can react to their second game in as many nights. Sure, the Oilers have had Connor McDavid for a full season this time around, but the improvement in their defensive play is the biggest reason for their turnaround this season.
The Oilers are led defensively by former Hurricane Andrej Sekera and Adam Larsson this season. While many, including myself, questioned the Larsson for Taylor Hall deal, the addition of a top pair defenseman was just what this team needed. Even with last night’s shutout the Oilers still have a +8 goal differential. In comparison, last season the Oilers finished with a -43 goal differential.
On the goaltending front, Cam Talbot has played well this season with a .930 Sv% and a 2.38 GAA. However, he played in last night’s loss, which means backup Laurent Brossoit may start in net tonight. Brossoit has a career NHL record of 1-5-1 with a .904 Sv%. This year he has played only two games this season and outperformed his career average with a .930 Sv%.
Despite scoring five goals last game the Canes offense has struggled. Playing a backup goaltender could be exactly what the Canes need to get their offense going. The Canes have played a disproportionate amount of backups this season and have benefited. This is exactly what they need to get a winning streak started.
What to Watch For
- The Next Great One? Connor McDavid currently leads the league in both points (59) and assists (42). He also won the fastest skater competition at the All-Star game this weekend. The key to the game is keeping him under wraps.
- The Canes lead the league in takeaways with 480, and Jaccob Slavin leads all NHL defensemen with 43. The Canes can exploit the young Oilers team’s mistakes for chances.
- Road Warriors: The Edmonton Oilers 15-8-5 road record is better than their home record of 13-9-3. However, they are matched up against the Canes who have a home record of 16-6-1.
- During their first meeting in October, Lee Stempniak recorded two goals which were his first multi-goal performance for the Canes.
- This series marks the 11th time the Canes have had a back-to-back series this season. The Canes are 5-3-2 in the front halves of back-to-backs. The Canes desperately need points to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff race.