FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
1 Captain needs his mates
Connor Mcdavid has figured in all three of Oilers goals in two games with one of his own against Jaro Halak and two assists in Sweden against Jersey’s Keith Kincaid. But, Oilers badly require their No. 2 centre Leon Draisaitl to give him support on a second line. Draisaitl does have two points in the loss to Jersey in Sweden but he wasn’t good until the third period, and he only showed glimpses against the Bruins with one shot. Nobody’s saying Leon has to be Evgeni Malkin, but he has to step up.
2 Any offence from defence?
The Oilers had only 32 goals from the back-end last year and through the first two games they don’t look like much of a threat again. Oscar Klefbom had a rocket from the point stopped in traffic by Halak early in Boston but the defence was quiet even with eight shots on net. every winning team needs a weapon on the back-end, either a primo puckmover or a guy who can really shoot.
3 Breaking a bad habit
The Oilers are notoriously bad in afternoon games. They lost in New york last season before heading to Washington for a back-to-back. The Oilers have played in europe in the late afternoon (cologne) and at night in Goteborg, trying to adjust their body clocks to the time difference at home. Now it’s a 1 p.m. et start at MSG, kind of a brunch game.
4 Five-on-five production
In two games, the Oilers have been neutered with two goals even-strength, one by Mcdavid and one by Draisaitl. The other was on the power play by Milan Lucic. The Leafs get two goals 5-on-5 before the anthem singer has cleared his or her throat. In the early going teams are scoring five, six, seven goals a night and the Oilers seem stuck in 1956 when every game was 2-1.
5 Not-so-special teams
Once again, the Oilers are losing the battles when the refs call a penalty. They’ve taken six penalties in two games and only killed three of them. Doubtful they can get through an entire game against the Rangers without taking a couple that they have to worry about. And on their own power play they had chances to negate Boston’s two PP goals on Thursday but got very little done.
If 10 to 15 minutes of every game is PP or PK, Oilers are in trouble.
New York Rangers right wing Jesper Fast leads the team in scoring.