EDMONTON, AB - Cam Talbot wants to play 82 games this season.
It's still early in the season, but the Oilers starting goaltender has posted a 7-1-0 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and 0.934 save percentage.
"He wants to play every night, which is pretty encouraging," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Never once has he come up and said, 'I'm a little bit tired' or 'I'm worn out' and usually that comes through the goaltender coach, but that hasn't been the case at all. We feel comfortable with him in there."
Having welcomed twins with his wife Kelly on October 19, the netminder has continued to maintain a consistent performance between the pipes, garnering two shutouts in the wake of his expanded family.
"I think he's picked up where he left off last year," said McLellan. "The difference might be more us around him than the way he's playing or approaching the game. [There's] nothing different in the way he prepares, the way he presents himself to the team and his review of games. He's in a good spot with that. He's found a routine and I think it allows him to be a pretty effective goaltender."
OILERS IN FOR AN EMOTIONAL NIGHT
As the Oilers prepare to welcome the Ottawa Senators to Rogers Place, McLellan admits that he feels it will be an emotional night.
"I think emotion will play a big factor in tonight's game," said the Oilers bench boss, referring to the news that was delivered on Saturday by Ottawa General Manager Pierre Dorian, regarding Senators goaltender Craig Anderson's wife having recently been diagnosed with cancer.
"Our prayers go out to that family as well, but there will be an emotional factor that comes into play… so I have a concern about that."
After learning the Senators lost goaltender Andrew Hammond for at least a week with a lower-body injury he sustained Friday night against Calgary, Anderson's wife encouraged him to rejoin the team.
With Anderson expected to rejoin Ottawa's lineup tonight, McLellan stressed the importance the Oilers must maintain focused on the task at hand.
"They're where we were last year, with a much better record, but [with] a new coach and trying to comprehend a new system and take it all in and they've had some really good nights and even good nights when they haven't won," he said.
"I think we'll have our hands full. There are some wrinkles in their game that is different than the traditional game that a lot of teams play and we have to be aware of that. We don't change a lot about our game. We'll try and continue to do what we do but they do throw some wrinkles."
POLISHING UP AND PREPARED
As the Oilers return to Rogers Place for one game before heading out for their first multi-game road trip of the season, there are still areas of play that can be improved.
"We've given up too many shots," said Oilers forward Mark Letestu.
"It obviously hasn't hurt us to this point, but it's kind of a dangerous recipe to play with. Last game we only gave it the one, so there's been games where we've improved, we've taken steps back. The Washington game, we gave up a lot of shots, but we're aware of it. We're trying to fix things and right now we're riding a hot goalie and he's put us in a good position to be one of the better penalty kills in the league right now."
It's not lost on the players or the coaches where the room for improvement lies, but sometimes it takes playing a game to recognize where there are areas that could use some polishing up.
"We've talked face offs, we've talked power play; penalty kills improved immensely from pre-season till now but there are still areas of the game that has to improve," said McLellan.
"It varies from team-to-team as well. We'll see an interesting neutral zone forecheck today and we'll need some polish there to come through it. If we don't we'll be turning pucks over and going the other way, so it does vary night-to-night as well."
As they continue to prepare to maintain their winning momentum, Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse said they need to zero in their focus on facing off against the Senators.
"They come out and play hard," said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. "They're a team that definitely does that. They have some weapons that can hurt you up front and on the back end. For us, we've just got to stick to things that have made us successful to this point - playing a really good, strong team game."
-- Meg Tilley, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (7-1-0) vs. SENATORS (4-3-0)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet Oilers
This is the first of two meetings this season between the Senators and Oilers. The next time these teams will meet is on January 8th in Ottawa.
The last time the Oilers and Senators met was on February 23rd in Edmonton, where the Senators won 4-1. Jordan Eberle scored the lone goal for the Oilers in the loss.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers have not trailed in a game since 6:21 of the second period of the Edmonton-St. Louis game on Oct. 20th, just before Tyler Pitlick made it a 1-1 game, which comes to 213:39 without ever trailing. In 2015-16, the Oilers best sequence without ever trailing was 184:51, from October 17-23.
Leon Draisaitl has three points (2G, 1A) in three games against Ottawa. ... Jordan Eberle has compiled ten points (6G, 4A) in ten games against Ottawa. ... In two games against Ottawa in 2015-16, Connor McDavid registered three points (3A). ... Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five points (2G, 3A) in five career games against Ottawa. ... In 11 career games against Ottawa, defenceman Kris Russell has six points, including four goals. ... Goaltender Cam Talbot has a 3-1-0 career record against Ottawa, with a 1.75 goals against average and a .940 save percentage
Senators team scope:
The Senators opened the season with an overtime win over Toronto and shootout win over red-hot Montreal but have only won two of their last five since then. This game wraps up a three-game jaunt through Western Canada that saw the Sens blank Vancouver 3-0 and then drop a 5-2 decision in Calgary this past Friday.
Dion Phaneuf has 30 career points (9G, 21A) in 43 GP against the Oilers. ... Bobby Ryan has 21 career points (9G, 12A) in 24 GP. ... Erik Karlsson averages a point per game in his career against the Oilers with 11 points in 11 career games (2G, 9A).