The good news so far this season for the Edmonton Oilers is that they have avoided injuries to almost any of their key players. The biggest loss so far was losing Adam Larsson in game one and while there have been a plethora of injuries to the bottom 6, the cast there is so interchangeably indifferent that it can't be seen as effecting the current W/L record of the Oil.
Holland went whole hog over the summer, collecting players that he believed could be impact players in the bottom 6, having more players than available spots to encourage competition. Clearly that is not how things worked out with the bottom 6 being one of the major issues once more with this roster.
Tonight both Josh Archibald and Riley Sheahan will return to the lineup, and Tippett has stated Joakim Nygard is close to returning. Today as well, Larsson skated with the team, continuing his rehab, still being a couple weeks away from returning. Perhaps having more players than spots once again will kick some of these guys into gear knowing they can be easily swapped out on any given night.
This 3 game homestand has been less than favourable for the Oilers; an overtime loss against Arizona and a regulation loss to the St Louis Blues. Tonight Edmonton is playing against one of the worst teams in the league, with the worst goaltending tandem, and playing one the other side of a back to back situation.
Edmonton is going to get shut-out by Schneider....aren't they....
Persson began the year as a steady hand with Oscar Klefbom, making smart outlet passes and showing good hockey IQ with smart pinches in the offensive zone. As with any "rookies" adjusting to the NHL there are going to be some warts and lately Persson hasn't been as sharp, notably being scratched after Arizona scored a goal that he directly could have prevented. Persson was scratched against the Blues and is back in the lineup tonight and seeing how he responds will be noteworthy.
DEVILS PLAYER PROFILE - TAYLOR HALL
One of the things I always loved about Taylor Hall is how he wears his emotions on his sleeve. It's easy to know when he's happy, disappointed, or pissed off. I had zero issues with Hall calling out his own fans for booing them in a close game and I wish more NHL players would be more blunt with their words. Hall leads the Devils in points with 14 but only has 2 goals on the season which is odd for him. The newest story around Hall is that his agent met with Shero in Calgary to discuss extensions, which of course led to all the media guys asking Hall about it. An annoyed Hall could be a scary thing for the Oilers tonight.
3 KEYS TO VICTORY
1.) Strong Start.... Oh And Also Hold It - Both games on this homestand have begun with the Oilers striking first with Connor McDavid goals. Both games Edmonton has lost. The early part of the season Edmonton had success coming to win from behind but they need to figure out how to maintain a lead.
2.) Demoralize Them - One common trait for the Devils this season has been once the other team scores... the floodgates open fast. Jersey held a 2-1 lead over the Flames last night and in less than 10 minutes, Calgary turned that into a 4-2 lead. Schneider has a .847SV% this season with a GAA of 4.71!! Score early and score often.
3.) Archibald...Do Something - I'll continue to call out the bottom 6, specifically now Josh Archibald. Through pre-season Archibald looked like a player that could become a fan favourite in Edmonton; a blue-collar hard working player who can go into the tough areas and score goals. Through the 8 games he has played, it's clear Archibald can skate well but there haven't been any noticeable moments where he looks effective. He doesn't need to lay a guy out or score a goal even tonight, but he needs to be engaged in every play on every shift tonight. Doing that should lead to good things for his line.
FILM OF THE DAY
The reinforcements arriving tonight for Edmonton might not be in the form of 20 goal scorers or top pairing defencemen but hopefully the arrival of new troops can spur enough change that the Oil pick up a win tonight. One of my favourite movies of all time, The Return of The King features one of the most epic arrivals of an army to try and save the day.