The Edmonton Oilers can’t complain about their 2-0 start to the season, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as they get set to host the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night.
“We still have to tighten up defensively,” says captain Connor McDavid. “We gave up a lot of shots last night, especially in the first period.”
The Oilers downed Calgary 5-3 Friday night but surrendered 24 shots in the first period. They allowed only eleven the rest of the game.
“We have a lot of growth ahead of us, both collectively and individually,” says head coach Todd McLellan. “But it’s a little more fun to come to the rink when you have some points in the bank.”
The Oilers will be trying to start 3-0 for the first time since 2008. Their projected lineup is:
Lucic – McDavid – Eberle
Pouliot – Nugent-Hopkins – Kassian
Maroon – Draisaitl – Puljujarvi
Pitlick – Letestu – Lander
Klefbom – Larsson
Sekera – Russell
Nurse – Gryba
– Rookie winger Jesse Puljujarvi played only 7:26 in Calgary. “We’re going to continue to evaluate the young 18-year-old that’s adjusting to life in North America, life in the National Hockey League,” says McLellan. “We need to give this young man some time. He needs to learn a number of things about the game and about playing in the league. We’re really confident he’s going to get it, and we’ll have a really good player.”
– Mark Letestu says it’s been a while since he had two breakaways in a game like he did on Friday. “I was joking in with my old Junior ‘B’ coach. It was probably in Onion Lake about 12 years ago,” says Letestu, who scored on his second chance on Brian Elliott.
– The Sabres come to town missing two stars as Jack Eichel and Evander Kane are both injured. “There can’t be mercy for that. We can’t feel bad for that given what we went through last year,” says Letestu. “There’s still a lot of firepower on that team.”
– The Oilers and Sabres will be on 630 CHED on Sunday. The Face-off Show starts at 3:30pm. The games starts at 5pm. (jrw)