The Edmonton Oilers have a tough task ahead of them tonight as they host the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues. Surprisingly, perhaps, both teams have very similar records a little over a month into the 2019-20 season, with the Oilers at 10-4-3 and the Blues at 10-3-3. Tonight’s matchup marks a battle between the top two teams in the West early in the year.
"Any time you play the defending champs, there's a little bit more of an aura around the game," head coach Dave Tippett said after Edmonton’s morning skate.
Sam Gagner is slated to join Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the top line tonight. Forward Tomas Jurco is expected to play with Gaetan Haas and Alex Chiasson on the third line in the hopes of getting something going with the club's bottom six. Mike Smith, who’s a solid 5-3-1 so far, gets the start in net. He’s boasting a nice 2.12 GAA and .931 save percentage right now. Riley Sheahan remains out of the lineup with an injury, although Tippett says he is close to returning.
As for the defending champs, no changes are expected to the Blues’ lineup from their previous game, with the exception of Jake Allen, who gets the start between the pipes. While he currently has a record of 2-1-0, his numbers are shaky, to say the least. Allen’s save percentage sits at .855, while his GAA is 3.72. For the Oilers, the best bet would be to put as many shots on him as possible in the hopes that he gives up some bad ones.
Here’s a look at the projected lineups for both teams:
Draisaitl - McDavid- Gagner Neal - Nugent-Hopkins - Kassian Jurco - Haas - Chiasson Khaira - Cave - P. Russell
Nurse - Bear Klefbom - K.Russell Manning - Benning
St. Louis Blues
Schwartz - Schenn – Thomas
Sanford - O'Reilly - Perron
Blais - Bozak – Steen
MacEachern - Barbashev - Sundqvist
Gunnarsson – Pietrangelo
Bouwmeester – Parayko
Dunn - Faulk