82 games might not seem like a lot to some, but when the team you cheer for and/or write about is effectively eliminated by the end of October, I can tell you for sure that 82 games is a lot. No fan needs, or wants, seven plus months to prepare for the draft, and unfortunately that's all that we as Oilers fans have left to do, again. Well, that and paying partial attention as this team plays out the string, hoping to see signs of life from this team, things that'll give us some hope that next year will be better. That's what I was doing last year and this time and wouldn't you know it, a year later and I'm doing the exact same thing. When does this end?
How To Tune In
Sportsnet West starting at 7:30PM. Seriously though, do something else with your Friday night.
What To Watch For From The Oilers
Probably not offence. This is a team that shouldn't have a lot of trouble scoring goals but they do. Odd decisions like playing Tyler Pitlick on the top line certainly doesn't help things a whole hell of a lot either. Moving Jordan Eberle onto the second line alongside Nail Yakupov and Leon Draisaitl is working out nicely for that trio, but it's left Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins without a right winger, meaning they're basically trying to push on a rope when they end up in the offensive zone. One step forward, at least one step back. As always.
What To Watch For From The Ducks
Aside from whether the team can continue the aforementioned prevention of coasting to game's end when they're winning, fans in attendance tonight may witness the beginning of the reign of a new team leader in goals that was probably expected by nobody at the beginning of the year. Like last year's emergence of Nick Bonino (and to a less extreme degree, Mathieu Perreault), Matt Beleskey has come into his own during the 2014-15 campaign. His tally on Wednesday night has him three goals over his previous season high just 30 games in and in a tie with Corey Perry for most on the team. With #10 on the shelf for the next few weeks, the 26-year-old winger could start locking down an unexpected position as the Ducks' #1 goal scorer as early as tonight.
Projected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Tyler Pitlick
Nail Yakupov - Leon Draisaitl - Jordan Eberle
David Perron - Mark Arcobello - Teddy Purcell
Luke Gazdic - Matt Hendricks - Steve Pinizzotto
Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry
Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne
Brandon Davidson - Justin Schultz
Why hasn't someone like Anton Lander been recalled yet?
#Oilers coach Dallas Eakins says Gordon and Nikitin are still not close to returning from back injuries.— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) December 12, 2014