Edmonton Oilers (16-7-0), 2nd, Pacific
Minnesota Wild (17-6-1), 1st, Central
07 December 2021
7 PM MT
TV: Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED
The Oilers were unable to get things going early in Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the LA Kings at home. Darnell Nurse provided a shorthanded goal for the Oilers, but the team never really got moving until about halfway through the second period. The Kings were proficient in 5-on-5 play throughout the game. Things went off the rails for the Oilers when Connor McDavid was assessed a game misconduct for boarding Adrian Kempe, the Kings responded by scoring three goals during the ensuing five minute power play to put a bow on it.
Things don’t get any easier for the Oilers tonight as the Minnesota Wild bring their game to Rogers Place for a 7 PM start. Can the Oilers flip their fortunes against the Wild tonight?
Let’s go to the tape.
THE OILERS ARE SAYING
“They kind of just trapped us in the neutral zone. We need to play down low, and we didn’t do that tonight...It comes down to having better starts and being more consistent and playing hard for each other. As a group, we just have to bear down and keep it simple to start the games.”
That’s Oilers forward Warren Foegele after the Oilers’ 5-1 loss to the Kings on Sunday night.
The Oilers are flat out getting beat at 5-on-5 out there. A shorthanded goal by Darnell Nurse seemed to get the crew going midway through the second, but the Kings just kept taking it to the Oilers for the first half of the game. It’s a tired cliché that a team needs to put in “a full 60”, but Edmonton’s opposition looks to be flying out of the gates early before the Oilers are punching the clock.
THE WILD ARE SAYING
“We did so many real good things...We had great looks. They did too. It was a real good hockey game. Real good hockey game by two really good teams. It was fun to be part of but whichever way it ended it was a good hockey game.”
That’s Minneota coach Dean Evason after his club’s 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
The Wild are on a six game win streak. Old friend Cam Talbot stopped 39 shots to pick up the W over Toronto.
HAVE SOME OF THIS
- The Oilers are on a two game slide with losses against the sixth and seventh place teams in the division. Edmonton needs to get off to a good start tonight and not mortgage a period of play against the Minnesota Wild, who are third in the league averaging 3.71 goals scored per game.
- Markus Niemeläinen played over 19 minutes in Sunday’s loss. He had a big hit on LA’s Dustin Brown, it was one of four hits for him during the game. The Oilers are still trying to fill in the holes on defence while awaiting the return of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, but does Niemeläinen have a shot at sticking with the Oilers after Slater Koekkoek is healthy?
- The Oilers are no doubt very happy that Darnell Nurse is back on their top pair. Nurse scored a shorty against the Kings on Sunday, he was on the ice for 26 and a half minutes playing in all situations.
- Maybe the Oilers will claim Riley Nash today.
- Devin Shore sure sounds like he’s soon to make a return to the roster. Shore has been out for a month with a lower body injury. Normally I’d be worried about him playing significant minutes, but Derek Ryan has not had a good go of it. I’d use Shore sparingly, and wouldn’t put him in the lineup if Turris is playing. I’d avoid putting Shore and Turris on the same line at all costs, because the Oilers are going to allow 50 shots a night if that comes to pass.
- You’d think with a team scoring more goals per game than the Oilers would have a solid power play. The Wild are not good on the power play (they’re 29th in the league at 13.9%). Even strength play is once again going to tell the tale of tonight’s game. One more time for those in the back. Unless the Oilers are the benefactors of an especially charitable officiating crew tonight, the game will be won or lost at even strength.
- Kirill Kaprizov is a dynamic playmaker for the Minnesota Wild. With 29 points in 24 games, he’s absolutely the one player the Oilers must direct full attention to when on the ice. Kaprizov has posted eleven points (4-7-11) in his last five. I’m very interested in how Tippett will deploy his crew tonight to keep Kaprizov in check on a line that contains Ryan Hartman (13-8-21 in 24 GP) and Mats Zuccarello (7-11-18 in 18 GP).
- I’ve got Mikko Koskinen in tonight for the Oilers. (12-3-0, 2.97 GAA / .911 SV%). I’d expect Cam Talbot in for the Wild (13-5-0, .915 SV% / 2.71 GAA) while Kappo Kähkönen (6-4-1, .895 SV% / 2.87) backs up.
- A win tonight helps close the gap with the Flames, who are 3 points up on the Oilers having played 2 more games.