Game 12: No Sleep Till Brooklyn | - Edmonton Oilers News and Rumours

Game 12: No Sleep Till Brooklyn

The Oilers will take on the Islanders on Saturday in what is being looked at as a must win. Really, if Edmonton loses, they're still 7-4-1 and in the playoff picture, but this win is more about not letting the team go on big losing streaks and ruining all the good work they did in the month of October.

8-3-1 is so much better than 7-4-1 at this point that this game is critical for Edmonton in a lot of ways.

Kris Russell

Looks like Russell is out tonight with an injury. Eric Gryba will come in to take his place. I don't want to say this is a good thing, because an injury to a good defenseman is never a good thing, but Russell and Sekera as a pairing were struggling as of late. If Russell's injury isn't severe, perhaps this is a quick break needed to get these two back on track.

Russell has been one of Edmonton's stronger defenders to start the year. He's been a pleasant surprise and for a while led the Oilers in a number of defensive categories. He's started to slow a bit, but he'll still be missed. Edmonton has struggled with some effective puck moving out of the zone over the last couple games and this is an area Russell seemed quite effective with.

Shaking Up the Lines

Coach Todd McLellan is shaking things up. He's not pleased with the way things have been going the last few games and in an attempt to jump-start his group, he's moving some pieces around.

In his pre-game avail, McLellan said:

"we need some individuals to get jump-started. We need some threesomes to get going a little bit more. In fact the most consistent line and the one we're most pleased with is our fourth line. They seem to get the job done night in and night out. But there are some individuals who need to pick their play up to make the group work."
As is stands Milan Lucic has been bumped from the top line and is moving down to the third line. He and Patrick Maroon will be switching spots. Maroon has some chemistry with Connor McDavid so I can see the logic behind this decision.

Jesse Puljujarvi

Tonight will be the ten game mark for Puljujarvi. It seems as though he's here to stay. The Oilers like his progression and his ability to get better and more involved in each game he plays. McLellan has gone on record to say that he sees Puljujarvi creating as many chances for himself and his teammates as anyone on the team and that he's deserved more ice time.

If Puljuarvi has a good game tonight against the Islanders, expect to see him more and more and in situations where he's relied on a bit more heavily. This isn't to say that McLellan won't continue to ease him into the lineup, but with the growing confidence, Puljujarvi will be given more opportunity to excel.

Versus the Islanders

It won't get as much hype as some of the other match-ups, but the McDavid versus Tavares story line is still relevant. The Oilers are 7-3-1 and the Islanders are 4-6-1. This is a game the Oilers should win. Having said that, so were the Ottawa and Toronto games.

The Islanders are in the top six for goals against in the NHL. They are also top 10 for shots against. It is important for Edmonton to get an early lead in this hockey game because the Islanders are not a good team at coming back from behind so far this season. Of their six losses, when trailing after one period, New York has lost four of those games. If Edmonton can get the lead and hang onto it after two periods Edmonton has held onto five of their seven wins after two periods.

In a season that is still fresh, this is a must win. Not doing so could start a tailspin of sorts and the last thing Edmonton needs after gaining such confidence from a hot October is to have that confidence shattered with four consecutive losses.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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