EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, trying to snap a three-game losing streak. The visitors from out east always present a challenge for any team's offence. They allow the fewest shots against per game, and boast one of the League's best penalty kills.
"They are very structured," said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. "It's tough to play against them. You really need to have patience. If we just stick to our game plan and play the way we want to play we should be fine. But it's very easy to fall into their trap. They play with such patience and they're very well structured and everyone buys into their game plan. They're a tough team to play but if we just do our job we should be fine tonight."
With teams like Carolina, it's tough to generate offence. You have to capitalize on the chances you get, or else risk losing the game.
"They kind of just lull you almost," said Oilers forward Ryan Strome. "They're in position, they've got good sticks, good structure and it always seems like they've got guys back, so it's like there's two or three defencemen out there sometimes. We have good speed, good skill and should be able to have the ability to break that."
Using speed at the right times will be paramount to the Oilers success this evening. They'll try to get behind the Hurricanes defence.
BROSSOIT GETS THE NOD
Laurent Brossoit gets his first start of the season tonight between the pipes for the Oil. He shut out the Hurricanes 4-0 in the pre-season, and will try to duplicate his efforts in a game that matters in the standings.
He's played in two games in relief of Cam Talbot, posting a .926 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average.
"He deserves to play," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "We're four or five games into the season and his games have been pretty strong; he deserves the opportunity to start. What are we looking from. We're looking for him to improve on his developmental curve. Year one, he had some things to learn practice-wise. I thought he accomplished that. Year two, he was a lot better. This year we expect him to take a lot more on and be productive. We think tonight's his night that he can start that."
"We know what he's capable of," said Klefbom. "I feel 100 percent confident in Bross between the pipes tonight. We're just going to make it easy for him, talk a lot and make him comfortable out there. Carolina is not an easy team to play so we've got to be ready for it."
Each team deals with their own set of injuries throughout the course of the season. The Oilers have been hit by the injury bug early.
In addition to Andrej Sekera, who has been out since the post-season with a knee injury, the Oilers are missing two key forwards in Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula. Defenceman Matt Benning is sick and has been ruled out for tonight as well, per McLellan.
Draisaitl is dealing with an eye issue/concussion-like symptoms, but was on the ice early before the rest of the team headed out for morning skate. He was ruled out for tonight by McLellan yesterday.
Draisaitl's absence is felt on the power play, where the Oilers miss his offensive ability.
"Leon has such a good hockey sense and just creates so much ice for, especially, us defencemen," said Klefbom. "He's really good at sucking those forwards in and creating more ice for us up top. For sure, we miss him. But I'm very confident in our group of guys that are ready to go tonight."
Forward Brad Malone, who was recalled on Sunday from Bakersfield, will play his first game as an Oiler tonight. He played two seasons for Carolina from 2014-2016.
-- Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (1-3-0) vs. HURRICANES (1-1-1)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet Oilers
Tonight's game is the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. Their second and final game against each other will be March 20, in Carolina. The teams met twice in the pre-season with the Hurricanes taking the first meeting 6-2 and Edmonton taking the second 4-0.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, having dropped decisions to the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators by a combined score of 14-5. Since losing to Ottawa 6-1, Edmonton has had two practice days to prepare for Carolina.
However, they will be down two key contributors against the Canes. Forward Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) and Leon Draisaitl (eye) have been ruled out. According to the head coach, both will be evaluated today in order to determine if they'll even join the team on the upcoming road trip.
Based on the lines run in practice on Monday, Brad Malone is likely to make his Oilers debut. The forward was recalled from the Bakersfield Condors on Sunday. He had two goals in five games during the NHL pre-season and two goals and an assist in three games with the Condors in the American Hockey League. He was on a line with Jussi Jokinen and Anton Slepyshev.
Hurricanes team scope:
The Hurricanes are coming off a 2-1 loss in Winnipeg on Saturday night. On Monday, the team practiced at Rogers Place and looked to be shuffling up their lineup in preparation for Edmonton.
Based on their skate, forwards Martin Necas and Josh Jooris and defenceman Trevor Carrick look to be drawing into the lineup (per hurricanes.nhl.com). It would be Necas' NHL debut after being selected 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was on a line with Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm at practice.
By the Numbers:
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers in scoring with five points (3-2-5) in four games this season. He's registered at least a point in all but one of his games so far (the loss in Vancouver on October 7). Brad Malone played 122 career NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring nine goals and recording 12 assists.
Jeff Skinner currently leads the Hurricanes in scoring with two goals. The Hurricanes boast one of the league's best penalty kills (87.5%).
OILERS - Andrej Sekera (knee) is out; Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) is out; Leon Draisaitl (eye/concussion-like symptoms) is out
HURRICANES - Lee Stempniak (hip) is on IR; Trevor van Riemsdyk (concussion) is on IR