Today is game 59 for the Edmonton Oilers, they currently sit 7 points back of the Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference though they do have one game in hand. It’s pretty safe to say that the Oilers have fallen completely out of the playoff race. Though tonight would be a good time to start a push considering Arizona is only 4 points ahead of the Oilers. St. Louis has stormed back into top 3 in the Central after a brutal start, Chicago has gone on a heater recently winning 8 of their last 10 games to climb out of the basement and into contention. The only hope the Oilers can cling to considering they’ve only won 1 out their last 10 is that all of Minnesota, Colorado, Vancouver, Arizona, and Anaheim have won 3 or less games in the last 10. The Western Conference has been abysmal so far this season which offers the only glimmer of hope for the Oilers and their fans.
Going into tonight Connor McDavid sits 3rd in NHL scoring at 83 points. 7 back of Patrick Kane who is now on an 18 game point streak. McDavid is now 16 points back of Nikita Kucherov who sits at 99 points, one off of the century mark, after putting up 18 points in his last 5 games. Kucherov is on fire and running away with the Art Ross trophy race, The hope of three straight Art Ross trophies for McDavid is quickly disappearing. McDavid has more Art Ross trophies in his future but this year belongs to Kucherov, the gap is just too big to close with how little time is left in the season.
If Connor was going to make any sort of push for the Art Ross, the push would need to start tonight against Arizona, the Oilers offence has been ice cold as of late scoring 2 or less goals in their last 6 games. The team has been praised for playing well over the course of their latest road trip but they still haven’t been getting results, moral victories don’t cut it after not making playoffs for 11 of the last 12 years. Moral victories also don’t count as points towards the standings with 1 win in the month of February the team has to pick up the pace and start collecting some wins if they have any hope of playing more than 82 games this season.
Lineups from (@dailyfaceoff) twitter. http://www.Dailyfaceoff.com
Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
Rieder – Nugent Hopkins – Gagner
Lucic – Cave – Chiasson
Rattie – Brodziak – Currie
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
Crouse – Stepan – Archibald
Galchenyuk – Cousins – Keller
Kempe – Richardson – Hinostroza
Garland – Weal – Fischer
Ekman Larsson – Hjalmarsson
Goligoski – Chychrun
Lybushkin – Oesterle
Up front for the Oilers it looks like Josh Currie will draw in for his first NHL game. He has spent a majority of his professional career with the Bakersfield Condors. He began with the Condors when they were still an ECHL team, his play good play earned him an AHL deal with the Condors. Continued improvement and consistent play earned Currie an NHL contract form the Oilers last summer. Today marks the day of his first NHL game, he grinded and worked his way all the way from the ECHL, tonight will be a very special night for him no matter the outcome.
Andrej Sekera is set to play his first NHL game of the season after an achilles injury during training in the summer sidelined him for a majority of this season. based on reports his conditioning stint in bakersfield was very successful and he looks much more mobile than he did last year when he returned. I’d expect once he gets used to the speed of the NHL again he will be a player somewhere in between his great season in 16/17 and his awful season last year. He was very imobile because of a knee brace last season and was exposed often, he no longer is wearing the knee brace allowing him to pivot better and be more effective defensively. Though he still has missed basically two years of hockey so expecting him to be a really good 2nd pair, almost first pair defensemen again would be foolish. He should however, be a very competent 3rd pair defensemen for the rest of this season.
In the last meeting between these two teams, Connor Garland stole the show scoring a goal with his face, then upon his return scoring a second goal as the Coyotes won 3-2 in regulation. Jordan Oesterle also had a couple points as ghosts of Oilers past continue to haunt this team. Keep an eye out for Oesterle tonight, the odds are in his favour.