The defending Stanley Cup champs are in town. Are the Edmonton Oilers up to the task?
“I think everybody knows the deal and the importance of this game,” said defenceman Adam Larsson. “Playing Pittsburgh, you have to be really sharp from the start to have a chance in this game.”
The Penguins and Oilers meet Friday night at Rogers Place. The game features three of the top six scorers in the NHL. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid leads the way with 74 points. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in a five-way tie for second with 70 points each. Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said he won’t worry too much about matching McDavid up against a specific Penguins line.
“If we’re going through hoops to get Connor away from somebody, then he just has to face the other guy anyhow,” said McLellan. “We’re going to play our guys. We’re going to roll them out there. It’s a test for our club. Come playoff time, we can’t protect every line, every player. Can’t hide guys. We’re beyond that now, so let’s play. Let’s throw it out there against the best and see what happens.”
Defenceman Kris Russell will return to action after missing the last two games. Up front, Benoit Pouliot is good to go for the first time since being hurt in practice on Febuary 12. The Oilers expected lineup is:
Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Pouliot – Desharnais – Kassian
Hendricks – Letestu – Pakarinen
Sekera – Russell
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Benning
The Oilers and Penguins are on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 5:30pm. The game starts at 7pm. (jrw)