The Oilers start an important California road trip facing off against the two teams they're looking up at in the standings. The Oilers currently sit 3 points behind the Ducks and 2 points behind the Sharks in a tight race for the Pacific lead.
The Oilers see this short trip before the All Star break not only as a chance to climb to 1st place, but as valuable road game practice in two tough buildings that could come their way playoff time.
"Part of it is we want to get in the best position for playoffs as possible," Mark Letestu said. "We want to catch the teams in front of us. But I think also going forward, we're going to have to win games in those buildings in playoffs if we want to be successful. So, to have success there, give us that confidence that we can go out to in those tough buildings and play good games, play solid games and beat them there can only go a long way towards where we want to be."
Leading the Oilers in goals this season is surprisingly none other than ex-Duck Patrick Maroon. Maroon, currently with 18 goals on the year, seems to be benefiting greatly from young phenom Connor McDavid and his 40 assists.
The Ducks are coming off a scrappy win in Winnipeg that was full of special teams play, an area the Ducks don’t seem to mind playing in.
A lot of uncertainty in the injury department for the Ducks still as multiple players are still out. Carlyle said John Gibson should be ready to go tonight but he’s considering giving him full time to recover, never a bad idea for your starting goalie.
Randy Carlyle stated during the optional morning skate that Kalle Kossila, the Ducks free agent signing out of St. Cloud State last year had been called up from San Diego and would potentially make his NHL debut. Kossila is currently 3rd in scoring on the Gulls with 27 points (9g, 18a). You may also know him from this incredible goal he scored the other night against Ontario.
Jakob Silfverberg’s time table on the other hand, seems much more unclear. He skated on his own for the first time Tuesday but will not be ready to go against the Oilers. The Ducks have called it everything but a concussion but have said he has gone through the required protocols and treatments for a head injury. Carlye said the next steps for Silfverberg will be skating with contact as well as neuro-psych tests, and then he will be re-evaluated for play.
It seems like this has been a relatively injury-free year for the Ducks, especially in years past with the mumps saga and whatnot. I’m all in favor for resting Gibson as long as he needs so he’s 100% come playoff time.