Well, tonight's the night. Tonight is game number ten of the Oilers' season and Connor McDavid's career, and that means that the Oilers are set to burn another entry level contract on an 18 year old kid. When is this team going to smarten up and learn how to leverage the salary ... yeah, even I can't make this argument. There are times when playing an 18 year old in the NHL doesn't make sense. This is not one of those times.
How To Watch
What To Watch For
There are going to be a lot of eyes on Darnell Nurse tonight as he plays his first game of the season for the Oilers. Perhaps a somewhat surprising cut at training camp, or at least when he was cut was surprising, Nurse and his partner for the evening, Oscar Klefbom, are potentially the Oilers defence of the future. These are two guys that the team desperately need to pan out if they're going to transition from also ran to contender. For Nurse, tonight is his first chance to prove that he belongs to stay when/if the Oilers defence is healthy once again.
The Opposing View
From Hockey Wilderness:
If your eye test is showing you that Koivu's line is dominating the play, you're absolutely, 100% correct. Each member of the Koivu line dominates 5v5 shot attempts, getting over 60% of them when they're on the ice. They've out-scored their opponents by a margin of 2-to-1, and they're locking it down defensively. Of all Wild forwards, the ones on the Koivu line are the Top-3 on the Wild of allowing Shot Attempts (and in the NHL's Top-40, among Fs with 50+ minutes). In fact, this week, the Koivu line has gone an entire period without allowing a single shot attempt. Twice!
The Wild are using Koivu's line more defensively now than they have in years past, but they should consider using them in even tougher minutes. In the past, the Wild have shied away from using Koivu in a primarily defensive role, perhaps wanting him to produce as many points as they could get from their Captain. But instead of maximizing his point production, the Wild would do well to look at how Patrice Bergeron is used in Boston.
Projected Line Combinations
|Taylor Hall||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||Rob Klinkhammer|
|Benoit Pouliot||Connor McDavid||Nail Yakupov|
|Lauri Korpikoski||Anton Lander||Teddy Purcell|
|Anton Slepyshev||Mark Letestu||Iiro Pakarinen|
|Darnell Nurse||Oscar Klefbom|
|Andrej Sekera||Mark Fayne|
|Brandon Davidson||Eric Gryba|