The Edmonton Oilers will be confident of claiming a sixth win in seven appearances against Montreal Canadians this weekend, especially after tight-knit encounters have gone in their favour in recent weeks. Edmonton’s last three victories have come by the odd goal and Todd McLellan will be hoping that they can secure another much-needed win on home ice.
If Montreal find their best form, the Canadiens will be very difficult to beat. Seven wins in 10 outings have helped to propel the visitors to the top of the Atlantic Division and it would take a brave man to back against Montreal at 4/7 with Bet365 on current form. We’ve had a look at the best of the action; including a brief profile of the key men to watch ahead of this clash.
Everybody wrote Edmonton off before the beginning of the season after former superstar Taylor Hall departed for the New Jersey Devils. However, the Oilers have really stepped up to the plate in recent months; losing just 23 games all year.
In fact, Edmonton haven’t had any trouble scoring goals in Hall’s absence as the Oilers have hit the back of the net 188 times in 66 games; only 10 teams have scored more times than McLellan’s side this campaign.
Defensively, the Oilers have tightened things up at the back and goaltender Cam Talbot has masterminded 33 wins this season – an incredible achievement. In addition, his tally of five shutout victories ranks tied for fifth in the National Hockey League with Washington Capitals shot stopper Braden Holtby leading the way with eight.
KEY MAN: Connor McDavid. The Edmonton center is currently leading the way at the top of the charts with 74 offensive points this season; notching 22 goals and 52 assists.
If the Oilers are to sneak a playoff spot, they will need McDavid to be at his brilliant best come the end of the campaign. With two goals and three assists in his last four appearances, McDavid is in decent form and he could be the main difference-maker on Sunday evening.
On the other hand, you’ve got the Canadiens. They have been one of those ‘almost’ teams for a prolonged spell since winning their last Stanley Cup crown in 1993 but this could finally be their year to get back to the top.
Montreal are in fine form themselves right now and Claude Julien will be relatively happy with their progress so far this season. They have a two-point lead over the Ottawa Senators in the division and victory over Edmonton would signal a serious shift in Canadian hockey rankings come the end of the weekend.
Offensively, they have always been solid and that hasn’t changed this year. They might not have hit the heights of previous years but Montreal’s forward lines are dangerous and the Canadiens are usually reliable on the power play. Edmonton will need to remain disciplined to prevent Montreal’s potent offense from running away with it.
KEY MAN: Carey Price. The Canadiens goaltender has been a key reason for their recent success and Montreal have plenty to thank him for after a number of brilliant individual performances.
Julien’s men have conceded just 171 goals this campaign; the joint-lowest total in the division and the visitors will need their goalie to be on top form to stand any chance of success in this clash.
A tough one to call; especially considering the recent form of both sides. Edmonton will be full of confidence after last week’s efforts and their previous run of results against Montreal could spur the hosts on. Montreal will give a decent account of themselves but Edmonton might get the better of their rivals in a close contest.
OILERS 4-2 Canadiens