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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers vs Vegas Golden Knights

Mike Smith is back in action as the Oilers host Vegas

Colorado Avalanche v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (23-16-3), 1st, Pacific)

Vegas Golden Knights (27-16-3), 5th, Metro)

08 February 2022

Rogers Place

7 PM MT

TV: Sportsnet West

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Knights On Ice

Now on the other side of the NHL All-Star Break, the Oilers look to pick up right where they left things before the break. Specifically, they’d love to rattle off a few more 4-0-1 sets. They’ll need to put on their best tonight as the Vegas Golden Knights will be Edmonton’s first test. Can the Oilers pick up where they left off before the break?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“We’d liked to see him stay healthy, without a question...That’s a big factor for it, but he’s ready to go. He was ready last week and we decided to give him the break to get through it. He had a good practice today and he will be ready to go.”

Source

That’s Oilers head coach Dave Tippett on Mike Smith being back and ready.

You hope Mike Smith is ready to take a bit of the load here, but there’s significant reason for concern. Smith’s last action came just before the new year, he was out with a partially torn tendon in his hand since then. Equipped with a new set of gear (and hopefully about 40 games in him), he’ll start for the Oilers tonight.

THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS ARE SAYING

The Golden Knights were a spectacular team before the addition of Jack Eichel. Dropping the second best player from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft into the lineup could lock things up for the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division this season.

Eichel is not scheduled to appear tonight for the Golden Knights, but it sounds like he’s not far off.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • 40 games in 80 days. You ready? Oilers are back at it tomorrow versus Chicago and again on Friday versus the Islanders. If you’re going to put together some wins, now’s the time.
  • Kris Russell has been placed on IR (undisclosed).
  • Mikko Koskinen has entered Covid protocol, and will miss tonight’s game. Mike Smith is scheduled to get the start, and the Oilers will need him to be healthy in order to make a run of it in the second half of the season. Smith has been out of action for the last five weeks, but is hopeful to be 100% going forward. He’s 2-2-1 on the season with an .898 SV% and a 3.76 GAA. The Golden Knights will likely counter with Robin Lehner (19-12-1, .910 SV% / 2.76 GAA / 1 SO), though Laurent Brossoit (8-3-2, .897 SV% / 2.87 GAA) may get the nod tonight on the first of a back-to-back for Vegas.
  • I love the way the third line looks with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujärvi. Not sure about a second line with Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian.
  • Tyson Barrie has gone eight games without scoring a point. This doesn’t count layoff from mid-January until his return against the Capitals last week, but I’m a little surprised to see this considering all of the time he spends on the power play.
  • Oilers can get to within one point of the Flames with a win tonight. Both Calgary and Edmonton have 42 games played, the Flames are holding onto fourth in the division with 52 total points.