EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers are starting to turn a corner in their season following a rough start, but tonight they will surely be challenged by a St. Louis Blues team that's off to a hot start to their own campaign.
"They are a prime team in the League right now," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "They have to be a top-five team on a nightly basis. One of the big challenges is that (Brayden) Schenn line. The amount of offence that they produce alone, throw in the production from the back end and they are a dangerous offensive team. They get a lot of it done 5-on-5. It's a good test for our group to see if we're moving in the right direction and try to create some traction before we go on the road."
The Blues start is one of their best in their history. Their 13 wins through 19 games is tied for second-most in franchise history. They have a tradition of being one of the better teams you'll face, logging the best record of any team in the NHL since 2013-14 (211-105-31).
This season, the Blues boast three of the top-10 scorers in the League so far in Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Brayden Schenn.
"They are a huge challenge," said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. "They have a few guys in the top five of League scoring. With that said, you know every shift you're going to be out there is going to be very important and it's going to be a good challenge for us as a team to defend, play hard and it will be a hard fought game for sure."
"I think they're having a good mix of size, speed, and skill," added Oilers blueliner Adam Larsson. "That's always a weapon when teams have that but I think we can counter that with our speed. We should be good."
Edmonton is looking to build off an 8-2 crushing of the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.
The Oilers welcomed in Michael Cammalleri this morning, as the veteran winger will play his first game in orange and blue tonight. Cammalleri was acquired in a trade on Tuesday, in which the Oilers sent Jussi Jokinen to the Los Angeles Kings.
"We got a really good player," said Larsson, who played with Cammalleri in New Jersey. "I know what he's capable of doing and he has a real good shot. I had a lot of fun playing with him in New Jersey. I know one thing for sure, he's always open - if you ask him. He's a funny guy too, so he's a good guy for the locker room."
Cammalleri replaces Jujhar Khaira in the lineup, on the wing with Ryan Strome and Iiro Pakarinen. Khaira is feeling the effects of an upper-body injury he suffered in the game against the Golden Knights, so Cammalleri steps in.
"We have to get him the puck," said McLellan. "When I think about the name 'Mike Cammalleri' I think of seeing him when I was in Detroit playing him when he was in LA. I see him in Calgary lowering that knee taking that one-timer and scoring. That's the vision I have. I think he's a competitive guy for his size as well."
With Khaira coming out and Cammalleri coming in, the lineup during morning skate looked as follows:
Cam Talbot was the first goaltender off the ice.
-- Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (7-9-2) vs. BLUES (13-5-1)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West
The Oilers and Blues meet for the first time this season and will meet again on Tuesday in St. Louis. Edmonton is 4-5-1 in their last 10 outings versus the Blues. They swept them last season with two regulation and one overtime win. Edmonton has won four straight against the Blues.
The two clubs have met a total of 131 times in their histories, with the Oilers going 56-60-11-4 in those games.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers are coming off their best offensive outing of the season - an 8-2 rout of the visiting Vegas Golden Knights.
In that game, 13 different players recorded a point, while both Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals each.
The Oilers special teams have been an area in need of improvement for the team this season, but on Tuesday night, the club had a small breakthrough. Not only did they pot three on the man advantage (3-for-3), but the Oilers also got a shorthanded marker - their first of the season.
Edmonton is 3-1-1 in their last five games.
Blues team scope:
The Blues come to town with an impressive 13-5-2 record to start the 2017-18 season. They're led in scoring by the likes of Jaden Schwartz (10-14-24), Vladimir Tarasenko (10-12-22) and Brayden Schenn (5-17-22).
They are coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders and Calgary Flames. Before that, they had won three straight.
By the Numbers:
The Blues are second in the NHL in points with 27 through their 19 games. They have scored 60 goals this season.
McDavid has an NHL-high 35 multi-point games since the start of last season and Edmonton is 26-7-2 in those games.
OILERS - Andrej Sekera (knee) is on IR; Anton Slepyshev (lower body) is on IR.
BLUES - Jay Bouwmeester (fractured left ankle) is on IR; Zach Sanford (Dislocated left shoulder) is on IR; Robby Fabbri (Torn ACL) is on IR.