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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers vs. Canadiens

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
TV: Sportsnet Oilers (HD)

RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 7:38 p.m. MT



The Edmonton Oilers will take on the Montral Canadiens tonight in their final home game before a six game road trip which begins on Saturday.

The Oilers have several walking wounded but could get those players back soon, just not tonight against Montreal.

"(Denis Grebeshkov) is going to meet with the doctor tonight," said Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "We're hopeful that he gets cleared.

"(Corey) Potter was just getting out some extra work. I haven't gotten the 48 hour heads up that he's going to be joining us. (Jesse) Joensuu will travel with us on the road. He should be back to practice soon."


The Montreal Canadiens travel well as their brand has become well-known across the world. The Oilers understand that there will be a loud contingency of Canadiens fans in the stands at Rexall Place tonight.

"Hopefully we'll take the crowd out of it early," joked Ryan Smyth. "We're excited to play these guys. Anytime an original six team comes in there's a lot of fans that follow them. Hopefully we just play hockey, play hard, play simple and have fun doing it too."

"I've been in a few of them now and it's always exciting," said goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "It's like when we go on the road and there's a lot of Oilers fans and we score, it sounds like a home game. I'll have to do my best to keep the Canadiens fans seated."

Coach Eakins added in that in his former occupation within the Toronto Marlies situation, he saw the passion of certain fan bases firsthand.

"I've seen it a million times," said Eakins. "With Toronto going into anywhere. The team would go into Pittsburgh and half of the crowd there would be with Leafs jerseys on. I understand it. The Montreal Canadiens are a storied franchise and they have fans not just across Canada, across the world… It's one of those brands that have fans across the world. I understand the fans that will show up here, and it's just another level of the challenge to our players to come out stomping and keep them quiet."


After sitting out Monday's game against the New Jersey Devils, goaltender Devan Dubnyk will take back the starting job in net tonight against the Canadiens.

After a rough start to the season, Dubnyk is ready to get back out there and perform well.

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's fun and games," said Dubnyk. "It's not fun to have to sit on a couple of bad games like that obviously. At the start of the year there's always a few more days between games than usual, but I've been here before. It's more just wanting to get back out there. It's not upset or worried about how things are going to go.

"I just wanted to get back out there and play, take sometime in practice and I'm excited that it's here and we'll get rolling now."


Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media last week that he was dissatisfied with the play of about five of his forwards. He wanted to shuffle the lines a bit and get things going for his offence, hoping to install some more 'compete' in his team.

Eakins chose to sit veteran Ryan Smyth knowing he would take the news the right way and not pout. Smyth did not play Monday in the Oilers win against the Devils but is back in the lineup tonight.

"Every game is an opportunity," said Smyth. "I want to take full advantage of it. You never want to sit out and watch obviously. There's huge incentive. You want to play consistent, you want to play hard and play for your teammates."

-- Chris Wescott,


CANADIENS (1-2-0) at OILERS (1-2-0)


Season series: This is the first meeting since March 8, 2012, which was won by the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. The Edmonton Oilers won the other game that season, 3-1, on Nov. 8, 2011.

Big story: Each team has one win in three games this season, but Edmonton has some momentum, coming back from 3-0 down in the third period against the New Jersey Devils to win 5-4 in a shootout Monday. Montreal trailed the Calgary Flames 3-0 on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss.

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal was 6-1-1 in the second game of a back-to-back last season. Goalie Carey Price, who started Wednesday, played both ends twice, winning each of those second games.

Montreal has 106 shots on goal this season, with its two losses by one goal.

"Obviously, aside from [tonight], we're pretty happy with the way we're playing," Price told NHL Network. "A better start is what we're going to be looking for our next game."

Backup Peter Budaj could make his 2013-14 debut.

The Canadiens have allowed a power-play goal in each game this season, shorthanded 15 times.

"We can continue to say it's the beginning of the season, we're just getting things going, but we've got to come out better than that," defenseman P.K. Subban said of the loss Wednesday.

Oilers: Devan Dubnyk will be back in goal after Jason LaBarbera defeated the Devils. Dubnyk has a 6.52 goals-against average and .831 save percentage, allowing 10 goals in two losses.

"I know what I've got to do to go play, I've done it lots before," Dubnyk told the Oilers website Wednesday. "I'm just excited to get out there and do it again tomorrow."

Coach Dallas Eakins commented on Dubnyk's competitiveness.

"He takes it personally, which is a good thing, but it can also be your nemesis," Eakins said. "You have to let it go and be free. Even though your goal is to have 82 great nights during the season, it's probably not going to happen and you've got to understand that. He's had a couple of goals that he'd like back. He's made some huge saves, too, along there.

"... He's excited to go back in the net tomorrow, which is a good thing. He's not shying away from it and we'll see how he is."

Who's hot: Canadiens forward Lars Eller has scored in each game, with four goals and two assists. Linemate Alex Galchenyuk has five assists. … Oilers forwards Ales Hemsky (four points) and Boyd Gordon (three) have a point in each game.

Injury report: Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty (arm) returned to play Wednesday. Forward Davis Drewiske (shoulder), defenseman Alexei Emelin (knee), defenseman Douglas Murray (lower body) and forward George Parros (concussion) are out. Parros was described as almost symptom-free. ... Oilers forward Sam Gagner (jaw), defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (groin), forward Jesse Joensuu (back), forward Steve MacIntyre (knee) and defenseman Corey Potter (back) are out.

-- Mike Battaglino - Staff Writer

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