The Edmonton Oilers are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over one playoff-bound team when they downed Anaheim on Friday night and they hope to play the role of spoiler again as the New York Rangers come to town.
Although the Oilers got the win against Anaheim, it took a stellar performance by goaltender Ben Scrivens.
“Last game was a bit of a weird one,” Taylor Hall said. “I don’t think there’s any question, we got outplayed for the majority of the game and we managed to capitalize on a couple of chances we had. But I find that over the season, that stuff kind of evens out. There’s been games this season, against Buffalo and games like that where we’ve had chances but we just weren’t able to capitalize. A night like the other night, we’ve just got to take whatever positives we can and kind of just keep moving on. New York is a team that’s really hungry and we’ve got to match that.”
Oilers centre Sam Gagner agrees and says it’s time to move on from that win and focus on the next.
“You move on,” Oilers centre Sam Gagner said. “There were some things we did well that game. I think our intensity was good, our battle level was good, I don’t think our execution was near where it needed to be, I thought our goaltending was great so I think it’s something you learn from and you move on and we’ve got another tough test tonight.”
The Oilers could potentially need another good goaltending performance should the Oilers get the victory and the goalie has a 2-0-0 career record against the Rangers, with a 0.50 goals against average and a .986 save percentage.
Edmonton is dealing with several injuries across their lineup. Head Coach Dallas Eakins told the media on Saturday that Ryan Jones would miss the rest of the season with a torn PCL. The Oilers were waiting on word on whether Tyler Pitlick would be available for tonight’s game and he will be.
Nail Yakupov has taken a step back in his recovery from an ankle injury. He will not play against the Rangers and may not be available for the Oilers upcoming road trip.
“Well, we were hoping that and then I guess after coming off, it started to blow back up on him,” Eakins said. “He’s had a bit of a setback there. As it went on later in the day yesterday, it started to swell back up so we’ve had to take a step back and reevaluate.”
Despite the banged up roster, the Oilers will not recall any players from Oklahoma City as their farm team continues their push to the playoffs with injuries of their own.
“We’ve got enough guys to fill the holes so we’ll move ahead with all hands on deck.”
The projected and depleted lineup for tonight includes Taylor Hall with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle on the top line and Anton Lander with Sam Gagner and David Perron on the second. Ryan Smyth is expected to skate with Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks and the fourth line could be Luke Gazdic with Tyler Pitlick, a rotating centre and defenceman Philip Larsen as a spare forward.
PLAYING THE EAST
The Oilers have played well against Eastern Conference opponents this season, with a 14-13-4 record. The players in the locker room are excited for the opportunity to play another.
“It’s always fun playing eastern teams, teams that you haven’t really played before and a team that’s in the playoff race,” Hall said. “Every point for them matters and that’s exciting for us to play a team like that and see what they’re made of. They’ve got great defencemen, they’ve got a few forwards that can really bury and we’re going to have to play as well as we can. I mean, it doesn’t really change from night to night for us because we’re not in a playoff spot. But it’s just managing our game the best we can and trying to get as many chances for and reduce the chances against is key.”
The last time these two teams squared off, Scrivens made 35 saves in a close, 2-1 win for the Oilers in New York. Head Coach Dallas Eakins says that the Oilers will face a much different Rangers club this time around and one that plays a much quicker game.
“These teams that we’re seeing now, they’re priming for the playoffs or they’re in a fight to solidify a spot,” Eakins says. “That game in New York, I thought we played well, I thought we got some goaltending and we were able to strike when we had to. I expect to see a different Ranger team here tonight… They’ve been playing at a much higher pace than what we saw that night, at least from the pre-scout that I’ve watched. Listen, they’re going to be coming hard with four lines and we’ve got to be ready for that. Every one of these teams now, you see Anaheim the other night, the San Joses, they’re just starting to tap the pedal, getting ready. The pace is quickening and we’ve got to be ready for that kind of team coming in. They’re going to play a very high paced playoff game right now.”
The Oilers will look to take away points from another playoff-bound team in this rematch.
“They’re right in there in the playoffs too and they’re another team that we can try to push down just a little bit and for us to see the level that it takes to be in the playoffs, just like we saw last game,” David Perron said. “We’re just going to keep battling all the way through this season.”