Edmonton Oilers: Previewing the Nashville Predators Matchup

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 09: Connor McDavid
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 09: Connor McDavid /

Having lost twice against the Nashville Predators this season, the Edmonton Oilers have one more crack against this team tonight. Can they pull the upset over this Stanley Cup contender?

The Edmonton Oilers are officially in the last stretch of the season and are kicking off the month of March with a big game against the Nashville Predators. It will be the first of 16 games for this monthly schedule, and it should be evaluated as a precursor for next season.

This game should be used to try out different lineups and allow other players to pick up more offensive responsibilities than allowing the same usual suspects to pick up the slack. Even though the Oilers are facing off against a Stanley Cup contender and are favored to be massive underdogs for this game, they need to show everyone they are worthy of sticking on to the team for next season.

In the last game against the San Jose Sharks, the Edmonton Oilers were utterly overwhelmed in the second period. Giving up four goals in 20 minutes crushed the competitive spirits of the Oilers and they lost any will of trying to mount a comeback in the third period.

That is something that they need to avoid against the Nashville Predators as they are considered to be one of the deepest teams in the National Hockey League.

Lineup Change

With the insertion of Milan Lucic into the Connor McDavid line after the Patrick Maroon trade, he’ll need to step up his offensive game. With only nine goals and 22 assists for the year, Lucic has looked like a shell of his former self.

He has had multiple opportunities to score easy goals or empty netters and hasn’t capitalized on those chances. Getting bumped up to the first line and playing with the best player in hockey should give him ample opportunities to score some goals and rack up some points.

Milan Lucic is an outstanding player and is having a down year, so it’s up to him to turn it around in the last month of the season.

New Addition

Also, keep an eye out for Pontus Aberg who was traded from the Nashville Predators on Sunday. He made an excellent debut on Tuesday and notched up his first point as an Oiler by assisting on Jesse Puljujarvi’s goal in the third period.

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His speed on the 3rd line was noticeable and a welcome change that the Edmonton Oilers needed when they made that trade by shipping away Mark Letestu. Also, there could be some added incentive for Aberg for having a big game tonight against his former team who barely played him all year-long.

With a new month starting and the trade deadline officially over, the Edmonton Oilers should just focus on the teams they are facing and nothing else. They can’t worry about the fans, the media or management.

None of these players will be cut or traded anymore, so they have absolutely nothing to lose at this point of the year. All they can do is practice and show up to games and play 60 minutes of consistent hockey on both ends of the ice.

It honestly doesn’t matter if they win or lose tonight against the Nashville Predators, as long as they are competitive and not allow the opposition to blow them out just like on Tuesday night.