Game Preview

PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Predators

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM

Chris Wescott -

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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Predators
Nashville Predators vs. Edmonton Oilers


Check back regularly for lineup updates as the Oilers get set to kick off a six-game homestand.





EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers return home from a road trip to begin a six-game home stand and finish off the season with 10 of their last 13 games played at Rexall Place. For the Oilers, this is their opportunity to continue their recent success (9-4-3 in last 16 games) and finish out the season on a high note.

“Obviously, we’d like to make a statement here towards the end of the year with 10 at home and those types of things put a good taste in the fans’ mouths for the summertime,” Ryan Smyth said. “Hopefully, we can get them hungry for next year. We want to make sure we maintain focus and do what we just did on the road trip.”

The Oilers looked loose at practice this morning with many of the players practicing in good spirits.

“It’s been a better atmosphere for sure around here,” Smyth said. “Obviously, winning changes that. There’s winning and there’s misery, there’s no in between. We’re finding ways to win and we’re playing more complete games… For the most part, we’ve had a chance to be in most games recently so that makes it fun.”

Tonight, the Oilers host the Nashville Predators after defeating them in each of their previous two meetings this season. The Oilers are 8-4-1 in their last 13 games against Nashville.


The Oilers traded goaltender Devan Dubnyk to the Predators for forward Matt Hendricks. The Oilers have already come out on top with that trade as Hendricks has made an immediate impact on his teammates. In addition to his three goals, Hendricks has provided a physical and vocal presence and his leadership rubs off on the team.

“He has the mentality of bringing the guys together,” Smyth said of his teammate. “Right from in the locker room here, he’s pretty loud and outspoken. Those the type of things rub off. I saw (Nail Yakupov) jump in and help him out (against Carolina)… You stick up for teammates and he’s (got) the characteristics of a good teammate.”


Tonight, Oilers fans will get their first look, on home ice, at the former 19th overall pick in 2011, Oscar Klefbom. The Oilers defenceman has played four games so far, but began his NHL career on the road. Now he gets the opportunity to play on Rexall Place ice.

“I’ve been in a couple of camps here,” Klefbom said of the arena. “The last game I played (here) was in World Juniors actually, against Canada in an exhibition game. I have pretty good memories from here so it’s going to be a huge night.”

Klefbom fully expects tonight to be a big moment for him as he runs out of the tunnel for warm ups.

“I’m going to be very excited,” Klefbom said. “It’s going to be a lot of feelings for sure. This is what I’ve been practicing for all of my life. I’ve worked hard every day, especially with the injury last season. It’s going to be an incredible night.”

As a former first-round pick, Klefbom feels a certain pressure to perform, particularly in front of the team’s fans at home. However, starting on the road helped him get settled in and he now feels comfortable with the pace of the league.

“You want to be as good as you can in front of your fans,” Klefbom said. “That’s why you play. But I think it’s been really good to me that I played a couple of games on the road, just to get into the game, get into the NHL and play against some really good guys. I know I’m good enough to play in the NHL so it feels good to play back home now. I’m ready.”

Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins says he doesn’t like putting pressure or expectations on a young, albeit talented, player like Klefbom.

“For me there should be no pressure on this young man,” Eakins said. “I don’t care where he was drafted. This player has got four games. I don’t want him to be compared to anybody who has a hall of fame last name. I want him just to turn into who he’s going to turn into. I feel when you put all the pressure and all the expectation on the player, all you do is set him up to fail and we don’t want that. We just want Oscar to go into the games, play like he’s played, be very, very steady and that’s a good night for him. He fully understands that playing on the road and playing at home should be no different for any of our players and that’s how we’ve asked him to prepare for our game.”

-- Chris Wescott,




PREDATORS (29-29-10) at OILERS (24-36-9)


Last 10: Nashville 4-6-0; Edmonton 4-3-3

Season series: This is the final game of the season between the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton won each of the previous two games by a combined score of 8-1.

Big story: Both Nashville and Edmonton are in last place in their respective divisions, but as young teams in the rebuilding process, each organization is looking to see if their rosters are starting to mature. The Predators may be starting to see some of the fruits of those labors with three wins in their past four games.

Team Scope:

Predators: For the past decade, Nashville was among the NHL's most consistent teams, qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs seven times in eight seasons. In 2013 that run came to an end and it appears likely 2014 will be the second early spring for the Predators, But after losing four straight games to open the March, Nashville won three in a row, including a road win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The winning streak came to an end Saturday when the Predators lost to the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has lost its last five games at home and its visit to Edmonton Tuesday night opens a four-game road trip with games against the Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Blackhawks.

Oilers: Despite being in last place in the competitive Pacific Division, Edmonton has been coming on in the past two months, going 9-4-3 in its past 16 games. It's an impressive run for a young team that could easily be playing out the string heading for its eighth straight season without a playoff berth.

"I think a real commitment to that togetherness as a team and fighting on even knowing that we're out of it," coach Dallas Eakins said Monday when asked about the key to the Oilers' recent success. "I think that's an extremely hard thing to do. It takes a very high level of commitment and the players are doing that."

The Oilers have an opportunity to build on their recent run when they play 10 of their final 13 games at home. When the Predators visit Tuesday it will be the opener of a six-game homestand.

Who's hot: Predators defenseman Roman Josi has four assists in the past three games. ... Oilers forward Taylor Hall has two goals and five assists in the past seven games.

Injury report: Nashville has a healthy lineup … Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu (ankle) is day-to-day and defenseman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique) is out.

-- David Kalan,
2013-2014 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 18 '14 NSH 1 at EDM 5 R. Nugent-Hopkins
Jan 26 '14 NSH 1 at EDM 5 J. Eberle
Nov 28 '13 EDM 3 at NSH 0 R. Nugent-Hopkins
S. Weber66162844-124494
C. Smith66202040+71853
D. Legwand62103040-83042
M. Fisher62171936-125842
P. Hornqvist64132235-112474
R. Josi5992130-111431
N. Spaling60131427+21031
C. Wilson6872027+01722
M. Cullen6461824-52811
S. Jones6961723-242222
G. Bourque6161319-8801
R. Ellis6741519+42002
E. Nystrom6613518-225601
P. Gaustad699716-96100
V. Stalberg577916-153201
M. Del Zotto6021214-101610
M. Ekholm49156-14600
P. Eaves29235-6210
F. Forsberg12145-8210
V. Bartley38055-21400
M. Hendricks44224-55400
R. Clune46213-914001
K. Klein47123-112100
S. Moser6112+0200
C. Sissons9022-1200
T. Beck7000-2600
J. Piskula2000+1000
C. Hutton3415-10-4818502.77.905
D. Dubnyk3411-18-31039453.43.891
M. Mazanec258-10-4646502.80.902
P. Rinne166-9-1394282.59.909
M. Hellberg10-0-0145.00.750
T. Hall63234164-123241
J. Eberle69233053-131864
D. Perron66252449-67072
R. Nugent-Hopkins68163147-152064
S. Gagner5682533-203311
J. Schultz6291827-161412
A. Hemsky5591726-132021
N. Yakupov63111324-333641
R. Smyth60101323-143451
B. Gordon6481321-91611
M. Arcobello4141418-7811
A. Ference6721416-155700
J. Petry685914-143600
P. Larsen21268-3800
M. Hendricks65527-48601
R. Jones48246+14001
A. Belov48156-143200
J. Joensuu42325-161611
C. Potter16055+02100
L. Gazdic62224-711500
N. Schultz60044-112400
W. Acton23213-11400
M. Marincin32033+41400
T. Fedun4202-1000
M. Fraser31112-105800
L. Smid17112-61600
T. Pitlick3101+0000
A. Lander15011-1000
B. Eager7011+1200
D. Grebeshkov7011+0200
O. Klefbom5011-1000
M. Brown8000+11900
B. Hunt3000-3000
R. Horak2000-1000
R. Hamilton2000-2000
L. Omark1000-1000
B. Scrivens3113-11-4629032.20.931
D. Dubnyk3211-17-2948853.36.894
I. Bryzgalov205-8-5576223.01.908
V. Fasth84-2-2202142.43.907
J. LaBarbera71-3-0191463.28.870
R. Bachman30-2-17833.02.916