Monday, October 17, 2011

Game Day: Predators vs Oilers **UPDATE**

Nashville (2-1-1) vs Edmonton (1-1-1)

Time:     7:30pm
Where:   Rexall Place
Watch:   Sportsnet West
Listen:    630 Ched

Projected Line Combinations

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
Paajarvi - Belanger -Omark
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Petrell - Lander - Eager


Ben Eager is a go for tonight and will be making his Edmonton Oilers debut


Word is that Ben Eager may finally be making his Oilers debut against the Preds but there are also whispers of them possibly dressing seven defencemen...which makes no sense to me but whatever.

Edmonton has to take the game to Nashville from the drop of the puck and try to score early. Nashville loves coming to the Alberta capital as they are a mind numbing 8-1 in their last nine visits. Very much like Minnestoa, the Preds lull the Oilers to sleep, get a timely goal or two and let their goaltender do the rest. Pekke Rinne has been one of the best  in the business for awhile now. Yet, the Oilers have been able to find ways to get pucks past the talented Finnish netminder but rarely enough to get the "W' in the win column.

Look for the Oilers new top line of Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle to try and give Nashville fits but they will have their hands full dealing with big Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. Edmonton needs to see some secondary scoring or they will be hard pressed to get that elusive win on home ice against the Predators.

Defence Pairings

Gilbert - Smid
Barker - Potter

Sutton - Petry


Looks as though Jeff Petry will draw back in at the expense of Theo Peckham. Not shocked by the decision as Peckham looked like he would be the odd man out when Ryan Whitney returned. Speaking of which,  Whitney confirmed this morning that he will be back in against Calgary on Tuesday or Thursday against the Wild at the lastest.


The backend is coming off their best performance as a six man unit this season. Led by a strong game from Tom Gilbert and a solid effort from Corey Potter in his Oilers debut, the group was more then able to hold their own against a very talented Vancouver side. The Preds are not a talented group upfront but they do find ways to get the job done and work all game long. If the D can keep things simple and stay out of the box, look for them to build on their strong performance against the Canucks.


Khabibulin will start


Nothing was confirmed at yesterdays skate but it would be a huge surprise if Nikolai Khahbibulin was not in the Oilers net this evening. After Devan Dubnyk was nothing more then ok against the Canucks on Saturday night, the veteran will be given his chance to show that his performance against the Wild was no fluke. To say Khahbibulin has had his challenges on home ice would be an understatement. Most fans were on the netminder last season because of his poor play. It will be interesting to see how both sides react in his first game on home ice.

Injury Update  

  • The team confirmed Sunday that Ales Hemsky will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks. There was no structual damage to his shoulder but it seems that it isn't at the level it needs to be strength wise. Hemsky will be off the ice for the next seven days to rest and then follow that up with a week of on ice training before returning to the lineup.

  • There were rumblings of Ryan Whitney possibly dressing tonight but I can't see it. He still hasn't passed his fitness test but if all goes well Monday, don't be surprised to see him in the lineup on Tuesday against the Calgary Flames.
  • Nothing really new to report on Sam Gagner, other then he seems to be improving. Again there was some talk on the weekend that he might be ready near the end of this week but that doesn't seem likely. With Gagner having next to no pre-season and the fact that high ankle sprains usually take a number of weeks to heal, I still maintain the earliest he gets back into the lineup will be the last few days of October or early November.

  • As previously mentioned, there is a chance that we will finally see Ben Eager put on his Oilers jersey. The rugged forward appears ready to go and if he is not in the lineup tonight, you would have to think he will go against the Flames on Tuesday. The Oilers could really use him in the lineup and look for him to make an instant impact on the ice, banging anything in sight.
  • Nothing firm on the condition of Darcy Hordichuk's knee, as he referred to the injury as nothing more then "a tweak". Can't see the tough guy suiting up at all this week but who knows. It will be interesting to see what kind of havoc Eager and Hordichuk will start, on nights they are both in the lineup.

   Nashville Notes
  • Veteran forward Davi Legwand is on a tear to start the season with 8 points in the teams first four games.Everything is clicking for 31 year old centre who many feel, never reached the "potential" of his number two overall selection back in the 1998 entry draft. While that may be the case, he has had a solid NHL career and remains a mainstay in Nashville.
  • After back to back first star performances to start the season, goaltender Pekka Rinne has come backdown to earth. He lost his last start in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night but was pumped for five goals against by the Phoenix Coyotes in his previous start. That being said, expect Rinne to have his "A" game on display at Rexall.
  • Centre Mike Fisher has yet to make his season debut as he is still recovering from off season shoulder surgery. He did not make the trip out West  with the club and is at least another week away.

  •  It is always a treat watching the Preds because you get to see two of the best defencemen in the league. While the club has had the ability to produce top end netminders and stellar blueliners, they really hit the jackpot with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. The two very rarely make the wrong play out on the ice and are worth every penny Nashville pays them. Problem being, the Predators may not have enough of those pennies to keep them both around.

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