After a strong showing and 3-0 victory over Calgary Thursday, the Edmonton Oilers will look to carry that energy into Vancouver as they face off against the Canucks Saturday.
Edmonton will look to not only keep the momentum going but also looks to test some of the other pieces on their roster in different parts of the lineup. Zack Kassian on the second line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic and Kailer Yamamoto will be a healthy scratch. Iiro Pakarinen will also draw back into the lineup.
“I like [Kassian] there now and Iiro hasn’t played in 10 days,” head coach Todd McLellan told the media following practice.
The Canucks’ game against Edmonton also marks their season opener. They have many different players making their debut with the team, including Michael Del Zotto and rookie Jake Virtanen.
Here are the projected lines for the Oilers:
Patrick Maroon-Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Zack Kassian
Drake Caggiua-Ryan Strome-Jussi Jokinen
Jujhar Khaira-Mark Letestu-Iiro Pakarinen
Oscar Klefbom-Adam Larsson
Kris Russell-Matthew Benning
Darnell Nurse-Eric Gryba
Cam Talbot is expected to start between the pipes for the Oilers and Jacob Markstrom should start for the Canucks.
Players to Watch
McDavid is coming off a three-goal performance against Calgary, as well as an instance where he skated at over 40 kilometers per hour. He has a lot of speed and has also shown a lot of success against Vancouver throughout his career. In 11 games overall against the Canucks, the 20-year-old captain has four goals and 11 points.
Leon Draisaitl also had a strong showing in the Oilers’ debut, putting up two assists. As he continues to play on the first-line wing, he should stand out as a player to watch, especially considering just how dangerous the Oilers are when McDavid and Draisaitl are paired together.
Pakarinen also hasn’t played in a while and should have a lot to prove and show heading into this season. In six career games against Vancouver, he has a goal and four points.
Keys to Victory
The Oilers defence looked mature and strong during the team’s season opener, and with Andrej Sekera out, Edmonton will have to remain strong on the backend. And with players like Del Zotto in the lineup, the offence needs to remain fast and use their speed to their advantage against the Canucks, who look stronger this year.
The puck drops at 8 p.m. MT from Rogers Arena.