Buffalo - November 7, 2014 -
Who: Edmonton Oilers
Where: First Niagra Center, Buffalo, NY
Know thine enemy: The Oilers are basically the worst case scenario for the Sabres’ current rebuild project: they have a ton of young talent, but find themselves in no better a position than they were in when they were originally making those picks. Instead of contending with a dynamic young core, they’re still trying to find answers throughout the lineup.
Offensively, it’s still the Taylor Hall show. He leads the team in both goals (six) and points (10) through the first 13 games. He’s one of the most dynamic wingers in the game when he’s not taking cheap shots (that’s another story for another time). Behind him, it’s the usual suspects: Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a smattering of contributions from others as the production drops off.
Defensively, it’s still a huge mess for the Oilers. Ben Scrivens has been disappointing on his way to a 4-6-0 record, 3.11 GAA and .894 save percentage. The team didn’t do much to improve the group in front of him, though, and it’s showing as the Oilers 3.62 goals against per game and 30.3 shots against per game are both quite high. Playing the Sabres will be a perfect, brief remedy for both, but it’s a huge issue for the Oilers going forward.
About the Sabres: They actually weren’t bad at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. They took the much better Habs to a shootout before dropping the decision and there were a few instances where it looked like the Sabres might actually win in regulation.
Drew Stafford, Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons are the only real scoring threats to speak of and the latter is quickly becoming the star of the team thanks to his strong two-way efforts, physical play and obvious heart.
Defensively, it’s a train wreck. The Sabres are allowing the most shots per game in the league at 36.3 and their 3.14 goals against per game is only that low because of the outstanding play of goalies Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth. Sadly, this could be A LOT worse if it weren’t for them.
The part where I predict things: Maybe not DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, but it’s never good for the Sabres. The only plus to this is that the Oilers are just as awful, especially defensively, and can never seem to get all of that talent rolling in the same direction.
This should be Shotfest 2K14 and both netminders should be quite busy. Whoever gets the better performance wins. It’s that simple, really.
Score: 4-2 Oilers
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