After picking up five of a possible eight points from the previous four games on the roadie, the Anaheim Ducks have the chance to make it a solid trip through the great white north as they wrap up the season series with the Edmonton Oilers. Anaheim has taken both meetings in Alberta this year, winning 1-0 on New Years Eve, as well as a 5-3 victory in mid-February. With Los Angeles in San Jose tonight, it'll offer the chance to either creep ever closer to the top of the Pacific Division with a result and the Angelenos losing, or a stronger grip on home ice in the 2 vs 3 matchup should the Teal Fish stumble. Either way, hope it's a regulation final in the Bay Area, and a credible close on the road for Anaheim.
Ducks: Saturday, 3/26 at Ottawa (OW 4-3). "GameThread: Ducks at Senators"
Oilers: Saturday, 3/26 at Los Angeles (L 4-6). "Recap: What Did You Expect?"
Saturday's comeback win in Ottawa was the largest road rally in franchise history, capped by Rickard Rakell topping the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career with the power play overtime winner. The Ducks currently have both the best power play (23.8%) and penalty kill (86.6%) in the league, and can become the first team since the 1984-85 New York Islanders to lead the league in both- if you know your history, the Isles lost in the division final in that year's playoffs to Philadelphia, who would go on to be the sacrificial lamb to tonight's opponent's second Stanley Cup championship team. While getting 20+ extra man power play points from Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim has had 18 different players pick up a point on the advantage, and 14 have scored goals. The Ducks' six players with four or more power play tallies is equalled only by Florida, and bested by just Chicago (who has seven).
Anaheim is expected to see the return of Ryan Kesler to the lineup after missing their last two games due to a family emergency, according to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register. Shawn Horcoff has filled in admirably in the intermediary, helping the third line remain on the positive side of the shot attempts ledger in nearly 15 minutes of even strength time between the two. Another possible return of note could see Sami Vatanen back on the blue line tonight, who's missed the last eight games, but will be a game time decision. Kevin Bieksa remains out likely until at least Wednesday when the Ducks return home to face Calgary.
This will be the 79th game of the season for the Oilers, who have played more games to this point than any other team in the league. While their 67 points will likely be fewest in the league once Toronto makes up their four and Vancouver their three games in hand, Edmonton has made small steps in their first season under head coach Todd McLellan. They've cut their goals against per game by 0.42, have nine players with 10 or more goals which is their most since 2009-10, have hit the 30-win mark for the first time since 11-12, and could finish .500 at home for the first time since that season as well.
Since coming over at the trade deadline from Anaheim, Patrick Maroon has been nearly a point-per-game player for the Oilers, putting up five goals and six assists, with a goal and two helpers on the power play in 12 games. The three Edmonton forwards he's seen his most even strength time with are Jordan Eberle (71:21), Leon Draisaitl (61:20), and Connor McDavid (56:57). Maroon has been most productive in his 40:47 of five-on-five time with Oilers' leading scorer Taylor Hall, with the renamed 'Big Rig' scoring two goals and two assists with Hall. It's almost like we've made the case before that Maroon produces when he's slotted with top line talent.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.