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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers @ St. Louis Blues

Oilers in action after ten day layoff, look to extend winning streak to three games

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Seattle Kraken Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (18-11-0), 4th, Pacific

St. Louis Blues (17-9-5), 3rd, Central

29 December 2021

Enterprise Center

630 PM MT

TV: Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Oilers, Sportsnet West

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: St Louis Game Time,

AFTER TEN

After a holiday break and an ongoing Covid outbreak within the league, the Oilers will finally play a game in St Louis tonight. Edmonton’s last game was a 5-3 win in Seattle over the Kraken, they’ll look to bank two more points in a matchup against a strong Central team in St. Louis. Can the Oilers get things going after a long layoff?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“I’ve done enough work in practice where I just need to get into a game and see how it goes.”

Source

That’s goaltender Mike Smith on getting back into action.

It’s been ten weeks since Mike Smith suffered a lower body injury in a game against the Anaheim Ducks, and there’s every reason to believe that he’ll be getting into the lineup sooner than later after he was activated earlier this morning. A healthy Mike Smith may inject some life into the Oilers, but the Oilers will need to score goals like they did earlier in the season in order for Smith’s return to have any material difference in the win / loss column.

THE BLUES ARE SAYING

“When you play a simple game and you play hard and you compete at a hard level, you get results”

Source

That’s Blues head coach Craig Berube on the Blues season so far.

Like the Oilers, the Blues haven’t played since December 19th, a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. And, like the Oilers, they’ve had plenty of lineup changes, additions and subtractions due to injuries and Covid-19 diagnoses. Both clubs may need a few minutes to get their sea legs working after ten days off.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • The Oilers are playing their first of a five game roadie starting tonight. After tonight, they’ll play a matinee game in New Jersey, followed by another matinee against the Islanders on January 1. The Rangers and Leafs will end the road trip on Jan 3rd and Jan 5th. The Oilers could use some key pieces back in their lineup ASAP.
  • TAXI - Remember all the fun we had last season with taxi squads? Yeah, they’re back again for now. Lasting at least until the NHL All-Star Break in early February, the six player taxi squad will travel with the team so that it’s easier for the team to make a call-up if necessary due to injury.
  • Dave Tippett has emerged from Covid protocol, and will be behind the bench tonight for the Oilers. Assistant coach Brian Wiseman has entered Covid protocol, and will not.
  • Mike Smith is back (2-0-0, .920 SV% / 3.08 GAA) and him being activated this morning is a good indicator he could go tonight for the Oilers. Stuart Skinner has been loaned to the Condors, Ilya Konovalov was pulled to the taxi squad. The Blues are likely to counter with Jordan Binnington (8-6-3, .910 SV% / 2.87 GAA / 1 SO), as he was first off the ice at morning skate today. If Smith is healthy, I expect to see him in a lot of games in a row.
  • Expect to see Dmitri Samorukov make his NHL debut tonight. Samorukov was called up on December 26th and figures to be in the lineup after Philip Broberg was sent to the taxi squad. He paired with Evan Bouchard at practice yesterday. Other pairs: Keith / Ceci and Koekkoek / Barrie. Darnell Nurse remains in Covid protocol, as does forward Jesse Puljujärvi.
  • The Blues are getting healthy(er?) at just the right time. They’ll be getting David Perron, Jordan Kyrou and Robert Thomas tonight, all who have been out with various injuries. Former Oiler James Neal will be out of the lineup, as will Oskar Sundqvist and Brayden Schenn.
  • Oilers could use a win tonight, as they’re in wild-card territory as it stands. Let’s get at ‘er.