EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a short two-game post-All-Star-Break homestand tonight when they take on the struggling Buffalo Sabres at Rexall Place.
The Sabres come into this game having lost 12 straight games in regulation to fall to the bottom of the entire NHL standings. As for the Oilers, they’ve been playing much better as of late but dropped a 2-1 decision to Minnesota on Tuesday coming out of the break.
“We’re just trying to find our game right now. The last four or five games we’ve been playing some really good hockey. We want to try and keep it a lot more simple. It doesn’t matter who we play,” said Oilers centre Derek Roy. “ We just need to keep moving up the standings, learn how to win and get that confidence back.”
HALL OUT AGAIN
Taylor Hall did not take the morning skate and did not practice yesterday. Coach Nelson didn’t have much of an update on him.
“He’s still day-to-day and going under treatment. I don’t have any answer on when he’ll be back. We just take it every day and see if he’s getting better,” Nelson stated.
The head coach added that, in Hall's absence, the team has tweaked its power play a little even from what they had on Tuesday.
“We made adjustments with that. We put Nuge on the half-wall and switched it around a bit from last game even. Hopefully this formation works and the personnel we have in the right spots. Hopefully the adjustments pay off for us.”
Even-strength lines up front are expected to be the same as last game:
After three straight starts for Viktor Fasth, Ben Scrivens gets the nod in goal tonight.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Nelson felt that the team had a lot of good chances on Tuesday against the Wild but lacked in their follow-through.
“Bearing down around the net with our execution. I thought our execution early in the game wasn’t good. We had some really good chances but we just didn’t bury them," Nelson said.
Luke Gazdic added that better execution, particularly on home ice, is a big key for the team.
"I think that we just have not set too many long term goals here. We just want to buy into his system, especially here at home. We want to pile up some home wins and get the atmosphere back here at Rexall."
ROY FACES BUFFALO
Derek Roy spent most of his career with the Sabres. This will only be the third time the veteran has faced his former team. This morning he talked about his time in Buffalo.
“My time in Buffalo was awesome. We had a couple good Cup runs there and I had some good friendships that I still have today. It’s a great organization and it was fun.”
Roy added that he wasn’t aware that the team was coming off its 12th straight defeat.
“I didn’t know it was that much. I feel for some of the players there. I played with a lot of those guys,” he said.
Todd Nelson talked about how Roy has fit in well with the team, netting three goals and eight points in 12 games so far.
“He’s a smart player that can make plays. I like the fact that the’s taking on a bit of a leadership role,” said Nelson. “He’s been good for us.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
SABRES (14-31-3) at OILERS (12-27-9)
TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, SNOL
Season series: The Edmonton Oilers are going for a two-game sweep of the Buffalo Sabres; they rallied to win at Buffalo on Nov. 7 when Boyd Gordon scored the tie-breaking goal with 4:15 remaining. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth kept the Sabres in the game with 49 saves.
Sabres team scope: Buffalo hasn't lost at Rexall Place since Oct. 16, 2003, outscoring the Oilers 20-6 in four victories. But this season's edition of the Sabres comes to Edmonton having lost 12 consecutive games, dropping Buffalo to last place in the overall standings, two points ahead of the Oilers. Coach Ted Nolan said defenseman Nikita Zadorov will be a healthy scratch after he was suspended for Buffalo's 4-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday after returning late from his vacation during the All-Star break. Zadorov apologized to his teammates, and coach Ted Nolan said he's more than likely going to play Friday against the Vancouver Canucks. Jhonas Enroth will start in goal.
Oilers team scope: Edmonton didn't have first-line left wing Taylor Hall in the lineup for its 2-1 home loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday due to a bone bruise on his lower right leg sustained at practice Monday. Hall didn't take part in practice Wednesday, and coach Todd Nelson told the Oilers website Hall is day-to-day. Nelson said the Oilers have been "trying to push the tempo and play a faster game," but added that puck movement has to improve for this to happen. The Oilers managed only one goal and 24 shots in the loss to Minnesota. Goaltender Viktor Fasth, who has started the past three games, made the case for another start by making 27 saves.