Edmonton Oilers Look to Bounce Back Against Avalanche


Oof. After the great six game win streak, the Edmonton Oilers are on a two game skid. Thursday night’s game against the Blackhawks was an awful hockey game. No other way to say it: the Oilers looked dominated by a team that quite frankly wanted it more. The Edmonton Oilers looked asleep against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Saturday night we have a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the Colorado Avalanche, who are on a four game winning streak. This game will not be an “easy” win.

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From Colorado

From Nadia Archuleta, milehighsticking.com 

"Now, here’s where we have a word of caution. While Matt Duchene has gone on a points-getting tear — and amassed 16 goals — Nathan MacKinnon hasn’t scored in 11 games. For Jarome Iginla, it’s been nine games. What’s more, the Avalanche’s power play still isn’t really scoring. Twice recently they’ve failed to score on 5-on-3 chances. The team is also back to relying too heavily on Semyon Varlamov. In his last four starts, Varlamov has faced 142 shots, or an average of 35.5 per game. The Colorado Avalanche haven’t generated 35.5 per game — more like 25 per game. What if Varlamov’s groin goes wonky again?"

There’s a sense of positivity in Denver and who can blame them? The Avalanche had a bad start to the season and seem to be turning it around. However, it’s worth noting some of their big guns, namely MacKinnon and Iginla, aren’t producing right now. Also worth noting, it’s like the same old Avalanche strategy of winning: get heavily outshot, have stellar goaltending from Semyon Varlamov and win. Giving up 35.5 shots a game is a hard way to win hockey but when the goalies hot, things can happen. Look at the Edmonton Oilers six game win streak: there were a couple games where Nilsson and Talbot stole games.

Keys to the Game

The Oilers need to generate shots. As mentioned, the Avs are allowing a high rate of shots per game. Varlamov is playing well, but like I’ve said in other pre games: The Edmonton Oilers need to have a quick start and go from there. They cannot allow the opposing team to dictate the game like they allowed Chicago to do on Thursday night.

For Defence pairings, I’m starting to agree with some bloggers like Jonathan Willis of Oilersnation and Walter Foddis of beerleagueheroes.com : I think Darnell Nurse needs a slight demotion. The kid is playing some heavy minutes and is starting to look like he’s doing too much out there. If I were the coach, I’d switch Nurse with Brandon Davidson: Davidson has been the most underrated rookie in the NHL, bar none. This would give Nurse some easier minutes and I actually would like to think that he would be good with Eric Gryba. Andrej Sekera continues to impress me and I think right now, he’s our best defenceman as he should be.

Please note that this does not mean that Darnell Nurse is a bad hockey player or that we should start a Twitter trend on Nurse’s rookie mistakes. Be reasonable. He’s a rookie, he’s a stud prospect and he’s been playing some harsh minutes. Mistakes are bound to happen.

The offence has dried up recently, being outscored 8-2 in the last two games.

Players to Watch

Edmonton Oilers: Justin SchultzNot for the good reasons either. He’s on thin ice with the fanbase and there’s some damning evidence there. For a Power Play specialist, he has not produced a single Power Play goal in over 100 games. It’s getting hard to defend Justin Schultz. It’s even more difficult to name an aspect that he excels at. He needs to have a good game tonight for his sake.

Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnonSay, MacKinnon hasn’t scored in 11 games? Well expect that to change as the Edmonton Oilers are the slump busters kings. On Thursday Night, Jonathan Toews was in a slump and scored. Seriously. If you got a slump, the Edmonton Oilers are the cure. I would not be shocked at all if MacKinnon put up a point or two against the Edmonton Oilers.

Projected Line Ups

Edmonton Oilers

Taylor HallLeon DraisaitlTeddy Purcell

Jujhar KhairaRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Matt HendricksMark LetestuLauri Korpikoski

Luke GazdicAnton LanderIiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse-Andrej Sekera

Nikita Nikitin-Justin Schutlz

Brandon Davidson-Eric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Colorado Avalanche

Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Matt Duchene

Andreas MartinsenCarl SoderbergBlake Comeau

Alex TanguayJohn MitchellJarome Iginla

Cody McLeodMikhail GrigorenkoJack Skille

Francois BeaucheminErik Johnson

Nick HoldenTyson Barrie

Nate GueninZach Redmond

Semyon Varlamov

Prediction and Notes

There’s some crazy rumours out there regarding Tyson Barrie and I think it would be very dumb for the Colorado Avalanche to trade away Barrie. I see Barrie as their blue chip on the back end that is still not very impressive. Plus, that would be the third straight player that Joe Sakic would let go, following Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly

Speaking of Ryan O’Reilly, he has 28 points in 33 games played with the Buffalo Sabres. That would put him in a tie with Duchene and MacKinnon.

Francois Beauchemin is having a great year so far: 5 goals and 19 points in 33 games. Sure he’s 35 and he’s bound to decline but good to see that.

I think the Edmonton Oilers win this game tonight and it’s a must win. I think the Oilers win this one 3-1, break the Varlamov wall. They’ve had some great success against the Avalanche in recent years and I expect Taylor Hall to continue his tear against the team.