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Rangers Comin' In Hot To Face Oilers

Saturday night saw the Rangers take care of Calgary 4-1 at the Dome. Can the Oilers take advantage of a Rangers crew playing their second game in two nights?

Keys to success:  Hanging onto the puck in the first minute.  Back to you, Jim.
Keys to success: Hanging onto the puck in the first minute. Back to you, Jim.
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

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11-4-0, 22 points, 1.466 p/g Ranks 9-5-1, 19 points, 1.188 p/g
Metropolitan Division - 1st Pacific Division - 1st
4th P/G 8th
12th ST 10th
18th S/G 11th
4th Goal 14th
7:30 PM MDT
TV - Sportsnet West, MSG
Radio - 630 CHED
Rogers Place

The opposing view


Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid -  Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -  Zack Kassian
Milan Lucic - Leon Draisaitl - Tyler Pitlick
Mark Letestu -  Anton Lander -  Jesse Puljujarvi

Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera - Matthew Benning
Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot
Jonas Gustavsson

Fifteen Games In, Slopes Are About To Get Steeper For Oilers

Yes, this year's Oilers are better than last year's club.  I don't think you have to sell that one too hard.  The Oilers have struck for nine victories in fifteen games so far this year, and that's probably a lot more than most of us were thinking they'd be good for.  That's good.  They've kinda teetered in a few recent games that could have gone either way (Dallas, Pittsburgh), so it's good that they're staying in those kinds of games.  Normally I'm on my sixth Old Vienna by the time the second period starts, and I haven't gotten that far lately, so these are some really good improvements, you guys. Cam Talbot's quietly setting a .920 SV% out there right now, and you can't get irate with that.

So just a few more goals, and we'll be sailing into the new year on top of the Pacific, right?  If you can arrange it that way, yeah.  The price of poker is about to go up in the next few games.  Starting Tuesday, the Oilers are in Anaheim (who lost 5-0 to the Predators last night), followed by Thursday in LA.  They'll visit Dallas on Saturday before returning home next Monday to face off some team from Chicago.

What's the point?  Slopes are about to get a little steeper for the Oilers.  Like Dallas a few nights ago, they'll take on a Rangers club tonight who were victorious in Calgary the night previous.  Oilers can put a little distance between themselves and Anaheim in the Pacific with a win tonight.  Let's go to the tape.

The Oilers are saying

"Things are going well...I'm eligible for (Sunday's game against the Rangers).  We'll see what happens with the lineup but I feel 100% and I'm excited to get back going."


That's Oilers forward Zack Kassian on getting back into the lineup after missing three games with a lower back injury. Kassian was practicing with Benoit Pouliot and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins  yesterday, so there's a fairly good shot he'll replace Puljujarvi on that line for this evening's game.

The opponents are saying

"It's impressive to see how we create chances every game...Sometimes it's tough against different lineups, different systems, but we've been able to create a lot of scoring chances.  Even the games we haven't scored a lot, we've had a lot of chances to do so. It gives the team a lot of confidence knowing we can score if we really have to."  Source

That's Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on his club's scoring successes.

Don't let Lundqvist fool you, everything is going in for the Rangers right now.  They lead the league in goal differential with +27 in 15 games (that's even more than Les Canadiens, who have lost all of one game on the year). Like all good streaks, you eventually return to Earth.  If and when the Rangers do, they'll have some wins banked on a nice little run to open the year.

Have some of this

  • STOP ALLOWING THE FIRST GOAL IN THE FIRST MINUTE OF PLAY:  Especially to Lauri Korpikoski, you guys. I'm glad the Oilers are tossing 42 shots on goal during that game, but spotting one to Korpikoski is a little too friendly.  Darnell Nurse had his payload removed from his stick by Jamie Benn and Korpikoski did the shoveling.  Less of this.
  • AN IMPROMPTU INJURY UPDATE: Management's been mum on who's ready to come back until they're all ready to go. Here, I got the details for you.
    1. Kassian:  Yes
    2. Hendricks:  ASK IN SEVEN DAYS
    3. Davidson:  maybe a week?
    4. Caggiula:  No
    5. Russell:  "weeks away"
    6. Fayne:  No
    7. Pakarinen:  No
    That doesn't look like much, but it's more than you'll get from the club.  Kassian will be back today.

  • Tyler Pitlick keeps hanging around, and for now, keeps scoring goals.  He's tied for second on the club in goals scored with five.  Was hoping for about 15 goals from him when the season started, what a coup if he can hang on.
  • It's been a good ten minutes since I've said anything about Connor McDavid. Turns out he's doing just fine, eighteen points (5-13-18) in fifteen games and everything.  I read that Connor really likes winning hockey games, so maybe tonight something happens with all of that.
  • The Power Play has been fun for a few minutes, then awful for a few minutes, then it gets hot again, then it stinks.  Take a second and smell the roses of the league's fourth ranked PK, powered in large part by a .935 4v5 SV% from Cam Talbot.  Talbot (8-5-1 ,920 SV%, 2.41 GAA) will go for the Oilers today. Antti Raanta (3-0-0, .926 SV% / 2.32 GAA) is likely for the Rangers after Henrik Lundqvist's 35 save victory against Calgary last night.
  • Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Drake Caggiula (hip), Mark Fayne (undisclosed) Brandon Davidson (upper body) Matt Hendricks, and Kris Russell will be out for the Oilers. The Rangers will be without forward Josh Jooris (shoulder)