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Game Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins @ Edmonton Oilers

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The Pens are out west for their annual visit to Edmonton

Pittsburgh Penguins v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

Who: Pittsburgh Penguins (3-1-2) @ Edmonton Oilers (3-3-0)

When: 9:00 p.m. ET

Opponent Track: The Oilers started the season in Sweden for one regular season game against New Jersey (which Edmonton lost 5-2) they had three road games before returning home for the last two games, and tonight’s contest makes a third. The Oilers won their home-opener last Thursday 3-2 in OT vs Boston, before being shutout 3-0 by Nashville on Saturday.

Pens Refresh: Pittsburgh was flying high after beating Toronto 3-0 on Thursday, followed by a lengthy down-time in games which they took advantage in some team-bonding, a little relaxation and some practices too in the resort area of Banff, Alberta over the weekend.

SBN Team Counterpart: Copper n Blue

Tale of the Tape

—The Oilers have been pretty good at suppressing shots against and they’ve gotten pretty decent goaltending from Cam Talbot (who has played every minute of all six games for Edmonton so far this season).

—RIP in peace the “Ian Cole is missed on the PK” narrative rooted in little evidence; 2018-2018.

Opponent Focus

Connor 4 real...The rest of his team, not so much

Connor McDavid set a somewhat dubious record when he either scored or assisted on all of the team’s first nine goals to start the season.

“You know what? It’s whatever,” McDavid said after the game on Oct 16. “I’m not overly proud of it. I don’t think it’s a stat we should be proud of either. And we found a way to get a goal there at the end, so we don’t ever have to talk about it again.”

It’s kind of staggering to think that through six games, McDavid has 11 points (4 goals + 7 assists). OK so that’s not too staggering he’s a great player. But check again above in the “tale of the tape” - Edmonton only has 13 goals on the season. With #97 on the ice they are a very, very good team. With him off the ice, they basically score nothing.

Amazingly, 14 skaters on the team have combined for 67 total man-games played so far this season and all together their stats combine for just 2 goals and 2 assists. That’s everyone on the team who aren’t named: Klefbom, Lucic, Rattie, Nurse, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins, and of course, McDavid that have offered virtually nothing at all.

The usual caveats apply - it’s still early in the season and it wouldn’t take too much even modest offensive output to help out and change the picture, but the overlying takeaway seems abundantly clear when it comes to the Oilers. They have Connor McDavid and then a couple decent players (RNH, Nurse, Draisaitl) and practically nothing else as far as NHL caliber offensive players.

Killer Kailer?

One player Edmonton is desperately hoping and needing to step up to the plate and showcase some ability is 2017 first round pick (22nd overall) Kailer Yamamoto. Yamamoto just turned 20-years old last month. He played nine games as a taste of NHL action last year before being sent back to the WHL so this is his first real extended stint in the NHL and he now finds himself given the opportunity to play on the first line, due to the injury absence of Ty Rattie. So far Yamamoto hasn’t contributed much with just one goal and no assists in six games.

How Yamamoto performs tonight and in general will be a major key for Edmonton’s season. Whether it’s him or former 1st rounder Jesse Puljujarvi, the Oil badly needs some young blood to step up and make good things happen out there.

Lines

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins / Connor McDavid / Kailer Yamamoto

Tobias Rieder / Leon Draisaitl / Jesse Puljujarvi

Milan Lucic / Ryan Strome / Cooper Marody

Jujhar Khaira / Kyle Brodziak / Zack Kassian

Oscar Klefbom / Adam Larsson

Darnell Nurse / Kris Russell

Jason Garrison / Evan Bouchard

—If you don’t know the name Cooper Marody it’s tough to hold it against you. The 21-year old was recently called up after starting his rookie season in AHL Bakersfield putting up six points (2g+4a) in five games on the farm. He would be making his NHL debut tonight if he plays, and the former University of Michigan man is said to have good skill himself.

—Bouchard (10th overall) was picked in this most recent draft. There still seems to be some debate on if they will send him back to juniors before he hits the 10 game threshold.

Cam Talbot has played all six games of the season so far, posting a .906 save% and a 2.69 GAA.

And now for the Pens

How will the team be after a long break and something of a working vacation/bonding trip/sight-seeing opportunity in lovely Banff Alberta?

Here’s the lines from a recent practice:

Coming off a 38-save shutout last game in Toronto, surely Matt Murray will be the masked man for the Penguins tonight.