PHILADELPHIA, PA- The Oilers are coming off a 2-1 overtime win in Chicago on Thursday night, which snapped a four-game losing streak. They look to keep the good vibes and successes going Saturday in Philadelphia.
With the early start time, Edmonton got their pre-game skate in Friday, taking a trip to a unique practice venue.
The Oilers headed out to Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena in Philly. The old University of Pennsylvania rink was funded in 1968 by a group called the "Friends of Pennsylvania Hockey" and the Class of 1923. The facility was completed in 1972.
It has played host to numerous levels of hockey, as well as concerts and events. The facility seats 2,900. It's old, and it's cold but definitely has a lot of character.
In another odd twist to the day, the Oilers dressed at Wells Fargo Center then bussed to Penn Ice Rink and then bussed back in full gear to the main arena after the skate to get changed.
NUGENT-HOPKINS' IMPACT FELT
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is off to a good start to the 2017-18 campaign, though he doesn't always get credit for the small stuff he does. The 24-year-old centre has two goals and an assist in six games this season, but his impact is felt in other ways as well.
Nugent-Hopkins worked on getting his faceoff percentage up and so far he's done just that, winning some important draws too. He's won 56.18% of the faceoffs he's taken.
"In the faceoff dot, he's been much better this year than he was last year," said Head Coach Todd McLellan. "I don't know if the new rules are helping him or if he's effectively applied some change to his faceoff technique. He's been better. He won big faceoffs last night on the power play and allowed us to keep pucks in the zone."
"The past few games I've been feeling pretty good, just bearing down a little more I guess," said Nugent-Hopkins. "I had one bad game against Winnipeg, maybe. Since then I've tried to rebound a little bit and get over 50%. That's definitely a big goal of mine and something I've been working on for years. I'm just going to keep working on it."
In addition to faceoffs, Nugent-Hopkins has been effective in other ways as well, ways you don't necessarily measure with a stat or a number.
"The affect Nuge can have on the game isn't always evaluated with goals, assists and points," said McLellan. "You don't happen to get anything in the stats for breaking up a rush or back-checking or running interference on a pass through the slot… picking a pass off on the penalty kill.
"When you watch the game, you review it and his teammates see him do it, it's noticed and appreciated."
DRAKE AND LEON BACK AT IT
After participating with the team at morning skate Thursday in Chicago, both Leon Draisaitl and Drake Caggiula were again on the ice. It's another good sign as they close in on a return.
Draisaitl told the media after the skate he is not playing against the Flyers. One of the next steps for him before he returns will be contact drills in practice.
Before the Oilers played the Blackhawks Thursday night, Todd McLellan said defenceman Matt Benning would likely be ready to play in Philadelphia. The blueliner skated again Friday after dealing with an illness, but is now healthy.
"Matt Benning skated today, I asked him after how he felt and he said his energy level is good and where it needs to be," said McLellan. "We declare him healthy now," said McLellan after Friday's practice.
We'll see in warmups if he makes a return.
McLellan also reminded the media that Jujhar Khaira is a healthy and available option for the Oilers up front.
-- Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (2-4-0) at FLYERS (4-3-0)
TV: 11:00 a.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet West
This is the first of two meetings between the Oilers and Flyers in the 2017-18 season. The two clubs will meet again on Wednesday, December 6, at Rogers Place to conclude their season series.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers snapped a four-game losing skid Thursday with their 2-1 overtime win against the Blackhawks. Mark Letestu scored the game-winning goal on the power play at 4:44. He now has two goals in six games.
Against Chicago, the Oilers special teams vastly improved. The club went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill and 1-for-2 on the power play. In keeping Chicago off the scoresheet on the man-advantage, the team lifted themselves from out of the League basement on the penalty kill, improving to 74.1 percent.
Leon Draisaitl will not dress for the Oilers Saturday. Drake Caggiula's status remains questionable. Matt Benning is healthy after previously being sidelined due to illness.
Flyers team scope:
The Flyers are currently in the midst of a five-game homestand. They defeated the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers but lost their last outing 1-0 to the Nashville Predators.
Philly will wrap up their home swing against two Pacific Division opponents. First will be their Saturday date against the Oilers, then a Tuesday game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Flyers have been without forward Jordan Weal, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He participated in the Flyers' full practice Friday. A decision as to whether he will play Saturday will be made Saturday morning, per Flyers.nhl.com.
By the Numbers:
Picking up two assists Thursday versus the Chicago Blackhawks - including a spectacular spin-o-rama pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy tap-in marker - Connor McDavid continues to lead the team in scoring with eight points (3-5-8).
By stopping 30 of 31 shots on Thursday and allowing only one goal against, Cam Talbot raised his save percentage to .901. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads the team in shooting percentage, scoring two goals on 11 shots for an 18.2 percentage.
After a lackluster sophomore campaign, 24-year-old defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere is having a great start to 2017-18. He leads the Flyers in scoring with 10 points (1-9-10) in seven games.
Although Philly went 0-for-5 against the Predators on the man-advantage Thursday, they own the 12th-ranked power play in the League, clicking at a 22.6 percent clip. Gostisbehere leads the team in power-play points with six. Wayne Simmonds, meanwhile, leads the team in game-winning goals with three.
OILERS - Andrej Sekera (knee) is on IR; Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) is on IR; Leon Draisaitl (eye/concussion-like symptoms) is on IR.
FLYERS - Colin McDonald (lower body) is on IR; Anthony Stolarz (knee) is on IR; Jordan Weal (upper body) is day-to-day.