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Ducks vs Oilers PREVIEW: No McDavid, No Problem, Right?

The Ducks close out the second half of their back-to-backs in Western Canada

NHL: Boston Bruins at Anaheim Ducks Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Game 62

Date: Saturday, February 23rd, 2019

Time: 7:00 PM PT

Location: Rogers Place

TV: Fox Sports Prime, CBC, SNW

Radio: AM830

Your Enemy: Copper And Blue

The Anaheim Ducks will have a quick turnaround after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Calgary Flames to travel to a different part of Alberta to take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. The Ducks did not play poorly by any means against the Flames, but when a team that is in 2nd place overall in the NHL takes on a team that is competing in the #Tankathon for Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, the results may not fall your way, especially on the road.

The Oilers are also a part of the #Tankathon conversation, sitting one point behind the Anaheim Ducks in the standings, at 27th overall in the league. It is so classic for Edmonton to have so many quality pieces in the lineup and still try to swoop in and steal more top prospects from other teams in serious need, like, I don’t know, the Anaheim Ducks, for example.

The Oilers will be without Connor McDavid for tonight’s contest, however, as he was suspended two games for a high hit on Nick Leddy in their game against the New York Islanders. McDavid leads the Oilers in points (obviously) with 85 points through 58 games. Leon Draisaitl leads Edmonton in goals with an impressive 36 so far this season.

However, the Oilers still cannot find ways to win games, and that has largely been due to the fact that they cannot keep the puck out of their own net. Their defense has been pretty abysmal all year long, and after signing goaltender Mikko Koskinen to a 3-year extension and making him their number one netminder, Cam Talbot was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Anthony Stolarz.

The Oilers have conceded 201 goals on the season, which is the 2nd-highest total in the Western Conference, with only the Chicago Blackhawks conceding more. The defense and goaltending situation will be key to this game for the Edmonton Oilers, as a struggling Anaheim Ducks offense could be exactly what they need to build some confidence.

Player to Watch

My player to watch for this game will be Kevin Boyle. Boyle hasn’t started a game since Ryan Miller’s return from injury, but he is 1-1-0 with a 1.51 GAA in the 3 games he has appeared in for the Ducks thus far. He started his career with a shutout in his first career start against the Vancouver Canucks on February 13th. His performance against the Oilers will be very important in determining the result of tonight’s game.

Keys to the Game

Special Teams - The Oilers may have an average 10th-ranked power play so far this season, but they have the 29th-ranked penalty kill. The Ducks power play hasn’t been anything special since Bob Murray took over, but this could be a fantastic opportunity for the Ducks to find a groove on the man advantage.

Goaltending - Explained above, but Mikko Koskinen vs Kevin Boyle. Let’s do it.

Match-up Advantage - Removing Connor McDavid from the Oilers lines creates entirely different match-ups up and down the lineup. The Ducks need to find a way to take advantage of the newly-created match-ups if they want to walk away from this back to back situation with any points to show for it.