Edmonton - January 29, 2015 -
Who: Edmonton Oilers
Where: Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB
Know thine enemy: The Oilers are actually going for the two-game season sweep of the Sabres, having won back on November 7th in Buffalo.
Past that, things are only slightly better in Edmonton than they are in Buffalo right now with the Oilers two points ahead of the Sabres in the standings. They’re also without star winger Taylor Hall, who is tied for the team-lead in points with 29. He’s got a bone bruise in his right leg and his been listed as day-to-day, leaving him as an uncertainty for tonight’s game.
Despite all of the talent in the Oiler lineup, they still aren’t producing anywhere near to the level they should. Currently, they’re 27th in the NHL in offense at just 2.23 goals per game, with Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all tied for the team-lead in points. They have a very top-heavy feel to their offense and have been struggling mightily to find some kind of depth up front.
Things are even worse on the back end. Aside from one or two pieces, the defense is a mess with no immediate answers and Ben Scrivens/Viktor Fasth hasn’t really been the answer they’d been searching for in net. Granted, Fasth has been playing well of late, made 27 saves in a loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
About the Sabres: What do you even say about a team that has lost its last 12 games in regulation? The team has fallen completely off the cliff and seems like the unquestioned favorite to finish dead-last in the league.
This has raised the ire of some folks around the league, fans claiming that what Buffalo is doing is shameful and that they shouldn’t be allowed to pick first or second. Which, are you kidding? They have been bad for almost two years now. The Oilers, for instance, are going on like year seven of being truly bad. So why are we crucifying the Sabres?
The Sabres aren’t the first team in history to play poorly in order to land a top pick. The Penguins, Kings, Blackhawks and Capitals are all teams of note that had really bad years (granted, not as bad as the Sabres currently are, but still) and benefitted from drafting near the top of the draft for a few summers. It happens.
The last time these two met: As the Sabres are wont to do, they held a lead midway through the third period, only to see the Oilers score a pair within four minutes to steal the 3-2 win.
The part where I predict things: The Sabres are due to finally get out of the skids and the Oilers are about the only team I think they could actually beat at this point. If Hall is out, it only makes things look that much better for them, so screw it: the Sabres finally get back in the win column on the road tonight.
Score: 3-2 Sabres
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