So a smidgen of good news amid the gloom for the Edmonton Oilers as they try to craft their first winning streak of the nascent season.
Top-line winger Jordan Eberle says he’s good to go after missing two days of practice following his team’s victory against the Ottawa Senators on the weekend.
The 2-6-1 Oilers are going to need Eberle to be a significant factor against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday evening (7:30 p.m., RDS, Sportsnet West, TSN-Habs) and beyond – top scoring threat Taylor Hall has been ruled out for the next four weeks after a knee-on-knee collision with Ottawa defenceman Eric Gryba.
“It was great to have those two days off . . . I feel good, and ready to play tonight,” said Eberle, who has three goals and six points in his last three games. “It was important to get that win (in Ottawa), but the biggest thing is to turn the page, we need this win tonight. If we lose it goes back to square one to where we’re feeling, we’ve got to keep this ball rolling.”
There’s bound to be just as much attention lavished on the players who won’t participate in this game – Hall, Ryan Smyth, the Habs’ Max Pacioretty, Daniel Brière and Brandon Prust – but there`s at least one Oiler who’s well tired of all that.
“I don’t want to talk about the injuries any more. Let’s stop,” said David Perron. “Every team has them, the Canadiens have them, it’s a fact of life, it doesn’t matter, guys have to step up.”
Strictly speaking, that’s exactly right.
So expect players like Perron, Nail Yakupov – who will play against his junior linemate, Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk – and Habs’ rookie Michael Bournival to feature in expanded roles.
The Habs will also give rookie Patrick Holland his NHL debut.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien said on Monday that “you can’t change your style in 24 hours”, but it’s clear both the Habs and Oilers will try and keep things tight defensively – a task that will surely come more naturally to the home team, which has allowed the fourth fewest goals in the league this year (the Oilers are lagging near the bottom of the NHL in most offensive and defensive categories as they try to master new coach Dallas Eakins’ system).
The goaltending matchup is expected to pit Carey Price, who has stopped 140 of the last 146 shots he has faced, against the Oilers’ Devan Dubnyk, who took the loss in the initial meeting between the teams last week.
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