Edmonton Oilers (9-3-1)
The Edmonton Oilers have gotten off to a roaring start in the 2016-17 campaign. They currently lead the Pacific Division with 19 points, five more than the Anaheim Ducks, who sit in second place.
The Oilers have won two games in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Sensation Connor McDavid has paced the Edmonton offense; he has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 13 games. McDavid ranks sixth in the NHL in points.
For the Oilers to succeed against the Penguins, they must generate power play opportunities. Edmonton has the ninth best power play unit in the NHL at 21.1 percent. In general, the Oilers need to get to Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray early.
The Oilers must also do a good job of defending against the Penguins’ attack. Edmonton does have a stellar goalie in Cam Talbot. The former New York Ranger has compiled an 8-3 record this season along with a .925 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average in 12 games.
Pittsburgh Penguins (8-2-2)
Regardless, the Oilers have a difficult task at hand. The Penguins have multiple weapons on offense and had a very successful road trip through Philadelphia and the West Coast, compiling a 3-0-1 record.
After losing a tightly contested game Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Penguins bounced back with a shutout victory against the San Jose Sharks in a Stanley Cup Finals rematch. Murray will get the nod in net for the Pens tonight (instead of Marc-Andre Fleury), three days after making 32 saves against the Sharks.
Pittsburgh has scored 12 goals in its last three games, and for them to win against Edmonton they have to keep up the offensive pressure. The Penguins already have four players with more than 10 points this season: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel.
It seems as if the reigning Stanley Cup Champions are playing with a heightened sense of confidence, which isn’t the best news for the Oilers. For the Penguins to come away victorious, their gameplan should be similar to that of the Oilers: Attack early, defend well and trust that Murray will make the big saves when he has to.
Tonight’s game marks the fourth consecutive game in which the Penguins will be battling a Western Conference opponent.
In a highly anticipated matchup, it’s expected that both Sidney Crosby and McDavid will have a big impact. The two have never faced off against each another, so this game is one that fans won’t want to miss.
I expect both former No. 1 overall picks to have at least a point in the contest; however, I don’t know if the Oilers will be able to overcome the Penguins’ stellar goaltending.
Talbot has been solid for the Oilers, as well, but the Penguins will take care of business with a 4-2 victory in their return to PPG Paints Arena.
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Tuesday, November 8 @ 7 p.m. EDT
Watch: ROOT Sports
Image credit: Getty Images