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Rise and shine, Nation! It’s a big Saturday morning as we’re getting ourselves set for a brunch party down at the Canadian Brewhouse while our beloved Edmonton Oilers prepare themselves to face off against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I don’t know about you guys, but today’s game is one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. Not only are we throwing another brunch party, a good time in itself and a wonderful excuse to get everyone together, but we all get a chance to watch some of the league’s best players go head-to-head. There’s something about matchups between the Oilers and Penguins that just hit differently, ya know? It’s like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby both crank their games up when they face off against each other, and the results are always a skill-battle that’s fun to watch. Throw Leon Draisaitl and Gino Malkin in the mix and you’ve got the potential for a big game filled with highlight-reel plays and angry coaches when everything is all said and done. The point is, I’m always pumped to watch superstars compete against each other and this morning’s contest has the makings to be a good one.

Now that the fanboying is out of the way, beating the Penguins is going to be a major task for the Oilers, and one that gets even tougher considering they’re working through some injuries and sporting a lineup that’s still struggling to score goals. But if you want to hang with the best, you have to dance better than the rest, and today’s matinee in Pittsburgh will certainly be a measuring stick game to see how our boys compare to a perennial contender. The Penguins have the ability to score goals in bunches, and even though their power play has been inconsistent early on in the season, we’re going to get a real good look at how our defensive game holds up under stress. As you’ll see in the numbers below, Pittsburgh scores more and gives up less than Edmonton does and that’s a problem our boys will have to manage if they’re going to walk away with two points. It’s doable, but it’s not going to be easy.

The good news is that the Oilers are coming off one of their most complete performances of the year against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and if they can put in another effort like that then we could be in line for a fun little Saturday. Do you believe? Of course you do. Let’s do that hockey.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS PENGUINS
RECORD 9-4-1 8-5-0
WIN/LOSS STREAK W1 W2
LAST 10 GAMES 5-4-1 7-3-0
GOALS FOR 42 46
GOALS AGAINST 37 31
POWER PLAY% 29.3 16.2
PENALTY KILL% 89.7 84.4
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 28.4 32.3
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 29.9 29.8
TEAM SAVE% .914 .920
CORSI FOR% 48.98 51.51
PDO 1.002 1.026
TEAM SHOOTING% 8.12 9.73
GOALS FOR% 50.00 52.59

Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

According to our friends at OddsShark, the total has gone UNDER in five of Edmonton’s last seven games.

LINEUPS

Oilers

Draisaitl-McDavid-Kassian
Khaira-RNH-Gagner
Neal-Haas-Chiasson
Granlund-Sheahan-P Russell

Nurse-Bear
Klefbom-Persson
Russell-Benning

Smith

Yesterday, the Oilers recalled Colby Cave from the Bakersfield Condors to presumably act as some insurance for Riley Sheahan just in case he couldn’t play. Sheahan left Wednesday’s game with some kind of upper-body injury, but according to the Oilers’ Twitter account, he looks like he’ll be ready to go.

Penguins

Guentzel – Crosby – Simon
Galchenyuk – Malkin – Hornqvist
McCann – Bjugstad – Rust
Aston-Reese – Blueger – Tanev

Dumoulin – Letang
Pettersson – Schultz
Johnson – Marino

Murray

The Oilers got some bad news this week when it was announced that Gino Malkin would be making his return to the lineup today after missing the first month with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Obviously, having Malkin in the lineup is a massive upgrade over anyone that was trying to fill his spot, and the Oilers are going to have to keep their heads on a swivel any time he’s on the ice.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

From the Post-Gazette:

During a blowout win against Columbus, Malkin tripped over defenseman Kris Letang and tumbled awkwardly into the boards. The undisclosed lower-body injury has forced Malkin to spend the first month of the season watching on TV and from the press box instead of making his mark on the ice with his teammates.

There’s never a good moment to be injured. But this one was especially untimely, as it prevented Malkin from building on the momentum he created this offseason.

The past couple weeks, he’s been skating more and more. He rejoined the team in a red non-contact jersey earlier this week. On Wednesday, he participated in a full team practice with full contact. Typically, that signals the final step before a player returns to game action.

“I thought he looked good,” Sullivan said after practice Wednesday. “Geno’s been skating a fair amount leading up to joining the team in practice. He’s gone through a gradual process to get him back to where he’s at. He’s looking stronger every day.”

Malkin’s hope is to return to game action Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.

TONIGHT…

 

Game Day Prediction: Despite a valiant effort in a tough building, the Oilers get edged out by the Penguins by a 2-1 score.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Both McDavid and Crosby get assists today.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: After the game, Gino Malkin wants to express his appreciation for the warlord that Leon Draisaitl is becoming by offering him a friendly lunch at Tako restaurant, located in Section 111 at the PPG Paints Arena. Leon kindly turns down the offer and graciously expresses his thanks for the compliment before making his way for a quick snack at Meat & Potatoes Poutine House which is also located in Section 111.

#NATIONROADTRIP TO CALGARY

  • When? Saturday, January 11th, 2020
  • How much? The depends on how many people are coming with you. To put it another way, we’ve got a range of options including single occupancy ($379/person), double occupancy ($309), up to groups of four ($269/person).
  • Why? Because we love to party
  • Where do you buy tickets? Right here, friend. But be warned, just like every time we’ve done this, this trip will sell out quickly so procrastinating is your enemy here.

What your ticket gets you:

  • Entry to the Dome (January 11th)
  • Transportation to and from Calgary (starting in Edmonton, also stopping in Red Deer for lunch/pickup)
  • Accommodations at the Best Western Downtown (1330 8th Street SW)
  • Prizes, Giveaways and a chance to mingle with 30 of our friends from Finland


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