All eyes will be on Devan Dubnyk tonight as he is expected to get the start in goal. With rumors buzzing about a potential deal involving Ryan Miller heading to Edmonton, Dubnyk, like Yakupov has a lot of distractions aside from trying to beat the Islanders. While his start against the Montreal Canadiens was better, he’s still a far cry from where the Oilers need him to be as their perceived number one netminder, especially against the Maple Leafs where he gave up 6 goals and only made 20 saves.
Mark Arcobello is earning his playing time thanks to his fine play so far this year. Written off by many prior to the year starting, the long-time AHL’er has recorded 6 assists through the first 7 games of the season. His strong faceoff performance is another reason he’s getting more opportunities and perhaps there is none bigger than centering Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle.
Like Arcobello, Yakupov will play alongside some talented linemates tonight in hopes of getting his offensive game on track. The subject of vicious trade rumors, Yakupov will play along side Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron which makes a solid second line for the Oilers.
Perron has been everything and more for the Oilers since coming over in the Magnus Paajarvi trade with the St. Louis Blues. Tied for the team lead in points, Perron has been one of the more consistent players in Edmonton despite the team’s early season struggles.
The third line tonight resembles one that many thought Eakins would go with after training camp. Boyd Gordon is your proto-typical third line centre and Ryan Smyth has struggled to keep up on the top two lines despite potting three goals to date. Hemsky has been one of the Oilers best players and with number 83 the adage holds true that he makes his linemates better.
As expected, the Islanders are led by their captain John Tavares who has three goals and four assists in the club’s first six games. Oddly enough he’s tied with Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner for the team lead. This game will be anything but a cake walk and the Oilers must show up the second the puck is dropped and carry that effort through the entire 60-minutes. Otherwise it’ll be another loss and the trade rumors will kick into high gear, if they aren’t already.
Finally, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins played two games for the Islanders during his career. Jack Michaels quoted Eakins as saying the following about his playing time on the island: “The team must have been really bad because I actually played on the power play.”
Let’s hope that the Islanders are that bad again tonight and the Oilers can pick up the all important W.