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The Washington Capitals will continue their Western Canadian swing at Rogers Place against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. This will be the first meeting in a stretch of 15 days that these two teams meet. The Oilers make their lone visit to Capital One Arena on November 12. The Capitals are looking to end a stretch in which they have lost four of their last five while the Oilers have lost three of their last five. They recently defeated the Dallas Stars at home on Thursday 5-4.
After making the playoffs for the first time in a decade last season, the Oilers won their first game against the Calgary Flames 3-0 but are 3-5-1 overall this season. That’s only better than the Arizona Coyotes in the western conference.
But do not get fooled, the Oilers are still a very good team. They boast reigning MVP and Art Ross Trophy winners Connor McDavid. He currently leads the Oilers with five goals and 10 points in the team’s first nine games. He was the only 100 point scorer in the NHL last year and is only 20 years of age. He became the highest paid player in the league this offseason signing an 8-year pact worth $100 million ($12.5 million AAV). The Oilers also extended center Leon Draisaitl to an 8-year extension worth $68 million ($8.5 million AAV) on August 16. He missed four games due to a concussion this year but has a goal and six points with a +3 rating. Draisaitl led the Oilers in points during the postseason last spring, racking up six goals and 16 points in the 13 postseason games that Edmonton played. The two combine for the NHL’s highest-paid duo at $21 million.
Edmonton also boasts bruisers Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, and Zack Kassian and they can all score. They are big, fast, and can create trouble for the Capitals on Saturday.
The Oilers will most likely have Cam Talbot between the pipes, who started a league-high 73 games last season. He tied the league lead with Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby with 42 and also had a .919 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average. So far this season, he is 3-4-1 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.96 goals against average. Lifetime against the Capitals, he is 2-3-0 with a .926 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average dating back to his days with the New York Rangers.
After starting the season 3-1-1, the Capitals have dropped to a 4-5-1 record through 10 games played, one point out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are looking to bounce back from a rotten 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.
The Capitals are looking for more production from their offense besides Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and T.J. Oshie. They are currently missing two regulars with defenseman Matt Niskanen and forward Andre Burakovsky still on injured reserve and the Capitals also placed Tyler Graovac on injured reserve today.
The Capitals will play their third set of back-to-backs this season against the Oilers on Saturday. They visit Calgary to play the Flames on Sunday night at the Scotia Bank Saddledome. They recently recalled forward Anthony Peluso on Friday evening after seeing Brett Connolly go down following a hit from Canucks’ defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Thursday. He has only played three games in Hershey but hasn’t gotten on the scoresheet and just has a -1 rating. He will be tasked with protecting his teammates from Lucic, Kassian, and Maroon on Saturday night.
The Capitals did not practice on Friday following the 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Thursday night and the status of Connolly is unknown. Expect to see new line combos for the Capitals tomorrow night following Thursday’s loss.
A Look Back In Time
Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied his first career NHL hat trick against the Oilers in a 7-4 Capitals victory. The game was their last in Edmonton’s Rexall Place before they moved to Rogers Place last fall. Kuznetsov added two assists for a five-point night.
-Braden Holtby is 5-2-1 with a .934 save percentage and 1.86 goals against average in his career vs. Edmonton (including his first career shutout)
-The Capitals are 7-3-1 against the Oilers since 2009-10
-Lars Eller is one point shy of his 100th career NHL point
By Harrison Brown