The Oilers lines look good, at least on paper. Having Gagner play with Hall and Yakupov is the perfect recipe for destruction, when all three players are on their game. That is anything but the case right now with Yakupov struggling, Gagner trying to find his game and Hall just returning from a three-week layoff. But perhaps having the three of them together could ignite not just one of their games, but all three.
The top line of Hemsky, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle is also explosive and could help get the Oilers offense into gear. Despite the 4-goal effort in Florida, it’s worth noting that all the scoring was done by players who haven’t scored in the NHL before. This team needs their top players to be just that, especially on the game sheet.
All eyes will be on Omark tonight. He’s been the subject of much debate lately on whether or not he belongs in the NHL. There are some critics who feel this will be his last legitimate shot to prove he can contribute to the Oilers on a consistent basis, while others defend him and feel that he’s just now coming into his own. Tonight’s performance will help determine if he stays in the lineup on Saturday when Jesse Joensuu is set to return.
Once again, the Oilers will need to stay out of the penalty box if they want to remain close in this game and give themselves a chance to win. As Jason Gregor mentioned on Twitter, the Oilers are outscoring opponents 26-25 at even strength on the road but it’s their special teams that have been atrocious.
Ben Bishop has been stellar for the Lightning this season going 9-2-0 and makes the trade for Cory Conacher with the Senators look like a steal. The Oilers will have to create traffic in front of Bishop and try and make his night miserable by crashing the net as much as they can. Perimeter shots will be ineffective against Bishop who has allowed more than two goals in a game only twice this season.
Oil on Whyte prediction: Oilers lose 4-1.