PREVIEW: Oilers at Wild
Oilers open four-game road trip in Minnesota versus the Wild
RADIO: 630 CHED & Oilers Radio Network
PUCK DROP: 6:13 p.m. MDT
INSIDE THE OILERSFasth and Klefbom will make their Oilers debuts tonight, Also, injury updates, line combinations and more from Monday's Oilers practice in Leduc.
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SAINT PAUL, MN - The Edmonton Oilers open a four-game road trip tonight against the Minnesota Wild. The Oilers lost their previous two meetings to the Wild but hope that a couple of players making their Oilers debuts -- Viktor Fasth and Oscar Klefbom -- will help turn their fortunes around.
AT THE MORNING SKATE
"I'm real excited," said Fasth following the morning skate. "First game on the ice for me with this team and I'm really looking forward to it."
The Swedish netminder was asked whether he preferred to have a lot of activity early or just ease into the game.
"It really doesn't matter but it's pretty good to get shots in the beginning but you've got to stay focused anyway," he continued. "I've got to play my own game and help out the team as much as I can. As a goalie you just have to focus on your own job."
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that he preferred if Fasth eased into it tonight.
"Hopefully we can ease him in this game so he's not under fire early," Eakins said.
The head coach added that he likes what he's seen from Fasth so far in practice.
"He looks in practice like he's going to battle. The way his body looks, he's an extremely fit goalie who can play his game."
Another Swede will be making his Oilers debut tonight: 2011 First Round pick Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom has a goal and nine points in 45 games for the Oklahoma City Barons this season with 10 PIM and a -9 rating.
"He's got a personality that you want him to do well. I'm sure he's going to have first game jitters. We have him paired with Andrew Ference so he can calm him down," said Eakins, adding that he doesn't read much into his AHL numbers.
Eakins added that he didn't want to put any expectations -- particularly high ones -- on the defenceman.
"This young man will end up being who he'll be. I don't want to put any expectations on him. I think it's very very dangerous to put such high expectations on players with little experience."
Klefbom did add, however, that he felt that his status as a first rounder makes him want to be better.
"I'm a first rounder so I have some pressure on me but I like the pressure. It makes me a better player," said Klefbom, adding that he needs to play a simple game tonight.
"I need to play my game and play simple. Play as hard as I can at this point."
The Swedish defenceman added that he has fully recovered from a shoulder injury which kept him out most of last season.
"I had to be a little bit more patient, with my shoulder last season. Playing in OKC was good for me to adjust to the smaller ice."
Tonight's lines and defence pairings according to what the team ran at morning skate:
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (22-35-8) at WILD (34-22-8)
TV: TSN, FS-N+, FS-WI
Last 10: Edmonton 5-3-2; Minnesota 6-2-2
Season series: This is the third and final game between the teams. The Minnesota Wild are 2-0-0 against the Edmonton Oilers this season and have more wins against the Oilers all-time (43) than against any other franchise.
Big story: After stringing together a season-best five wins in a row, the Wild are winless in their past two games (0-1-1). Minnesota enters the week as the Stanley Cup Playoff wild-card leaders in the Western Conference, up four points on the Dallas Stars.
Oilers: This time of year, when you're in last place in the Western Conference, it's time to start taking a peek at what the future holds. Edmonton is in that position and is expected to unveil defenseman Oscar Klefbom, a 2011 first-round draft pick (No. 19). A native of Karlstad, Sweden, Klefbom has played in 45 games with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League this season, his first season in North America, scoring one goal and nine points.
"We want to get a look at this young man and let him get his feet wet," coach Dallas Eakins said. "It doesn't mean he’s going to be here for the whole rest of the year. It will depend on how he plays."
The Oilers are also expected to start Viktor Fasth in goal. Fasth was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday in exchange for third-round draft picks in 2014 and 2015. Fasth hasn't played an NHL game since Nov. 18 and has seen the ice in five games this season.
Wild: Minnesota would have liked two points against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, but the fact the Wild were able to get even one was a positive. They lost 3-2 in a shootout, but with how the game started, the Wild seemed pleased to get the single point. St. Louis entered the game 35-1-4 when scoring first this season and led 2-0 after the first period. But the Wild went on to dominate stretches of the game, scoring two goals in the second period to tie. They also had several good chances to win the game in regulation.
"It wasn't like we were that bad," coach Mike Yeo said. "We were competing, we had a couple shifts in the offensive zone. I think they thought they were going to take it to us physically. I think our guys responded to that. Our guys started being physical with their defensemen and we really started to get to our game."
Matt Cooke is expected to play in his 1,000th NHL game Tuesday, becoming the fourth player to do so with the Wild (Keith Carney, Andrew Brunette and Matt Cullen are the others). Cooke, who has played in all 64 games with Minnesota this season, debuted in 1998 for the Vancouver Canucks, with whom he played 566 games. He's also spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins (352 games) and the Washington Capitals (17 games).
Who's hot: Oilers forward Sam Gagner has points in four straight games, including consecutive two-point efforts. He had a goal and an assist Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. … Forward Matt Moulson scored his first goal with the Wild in the loss to the Blues and has points in each of his first two games with his new team since being acquired Wednesday from the Buffalo Sabres. He has scored at least a point in the last eight games he's played, a career best.
Injury report: Oilers defenseman Anton Belov (oblique) is out. Eakins held forward Taylor Hall off the ice at practice Monday but indicated he did not expect Hall to miss any time. … Wild goaltenders Josh Harding (illness) and Niklas Backstrom (abdomen) and forward Jason Zucker (leg) are out.
-- Dan Myers, NHL.com