Excitement is palpable in Edmonton after one game, and though the same excitement took hold last season, this year it's different - even Tyler Dellow is optimistic. The Oilers already took a game against the undermanned predicted Northwest division winners, and have a chance to do the same against the Undermanned predicted Pacific division winners.
It wasn't the Young Gunz™ that carried the day against the Canucks, it was Ales Hemsky, now healthy and looking like the Hemsky of old. But if the Oilers are going to be successful against fully-loaded teams, the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line is going to have to pull it's weight. Tonight, that line should get a fantastic opportunity.
Oilers Report: Not many changes from the Vancouver game except that Ben Eager is suffering from bruised pride and swollen eye, so he'll sit this one out in favor of Magnus Paajarvi. Paajarvi, a healthy scratch in game one, could help out the Oilers penalty kill - using four forwards on the PK long-term can't be a viable strategy.
Sharks Report: The Sharks came out flat against the Calgary Flames before turning it on and embarrassing the Flames over the last two periods. They're still missing Brent Burns, out recovering from sports hernia surgery, so the defense doesn't have the depth in will in a few weeks. The Oilers can take advantage of that and steal two more points from a playoff team.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Teemu Hartikainen
Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell-
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Scratches: Ben Eager, Mark Fistric, Darcy Hordichuk
By The Numbers
The Oilers are 19-8-5 in home openers in the NHL and 4-3 in the WHA for an all-time record of 23-12-5, and have won the last two.
At some point this evening, Eric Belanger will play his 13,000th minute in the NHL when he plays his third minute of the game.
After Nick Schultz plays his 9th minute, he will surpass 15,000 minutes played in the NHL.
The Oilers were 2-2 against the Sharks last season, but were outscored 9-7. Both of Edmonton's wins came via shootout, one at home, one on the road.