The Oilers kick off a three game road trip this evening against the Florida Panthers. There's no denying that the Oilers played a home game on Saturday night - they won, why would we deny it - so technically they are playing the first game of a road trip tonight, but when a team's travel schedule includes a flights from Edmonton to Arizona, to California, back to Edmonton, and finally to Florida in the span of a week it probably feels more like the same road trip than an entirely new one. With four games in the next six days, and flights to Dallas and Edmonton mixed in, things keep getting better for the Oilers too.
The Oilers closed out their last real homestand with a game against these same Panthers just eight days ago. That game was, well, let's say it was a spirited affair. Erik Gudbranson caught Taylor Hall with his head down in the neutral zone. That was followed by Matt Hendricks, not in retaliation for the hit on Hall, drilling Aaron Ekblad into the end boards and earning himself a three game suspension at the same time. Eight days later Hendricks returns to the Oilers line-up, a line-up that now includes the recently recalled Zack Kassian as well. And just in case the Panthers haven't forgotten about the last meeting, Luke Gazdic, who has presumably been working on his intimidating stare since his last action on New Year's Eve, is set to dress tonight in place of Anton Lander.
Despite recording three points in the Oilers last night games, Leon Draisaitl is still second on the team in scoring five points ahead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Leading Draisaitl by seven points is the Oilers leading scored, Taylor Hall, who's had even more trouble scoring than Draisaitl with only two points since the calendars started reading 2016. Not shockingly, their line mate, Teddy Purcell is also struggling to find the scoresheet right now with only one point in the Oilers last seven games. Between them they've only factored into four goals this year, not nearly good enough for a group regularly playing top line minutes.
As noted earlier in our line-up notes, Cam Talbot has been playing spectacularly of late, posting a 0.941 save percentage in his last ten starts and holding the opposition to two or fewer goals seven of those games. Unfortunately his good play hasn't resulted in as many wins as we all would have liked as the Oilers have had just as much troubling scoring as their opposition. The lack of scoring hasn't just been the top line of course, but that's where the fingers are starting to get pointed as team continues to struggle to find any traction, or string even a couple wins together as the playoffs look more and more like a next year kind of thing with each passing game.