EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers will be without one of their big guns when they host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
After Friday’s practice, coach Todd McLellan confirmed that center Leon Draisaitl, who finished eighth in the NHL scoring race last season with 77 points, will not play Saturday.
“He didn’t practice and won’t play tomorrow,” said McLellan. “That’s all we know for now.”
The Oilers haven’t played since Monday’s loss at home to Winnipeg, and Draisaitl hasn’t been able to practice during that time. He suffered an eye injury in that game that has caused some loss of vision and facial swelling.
“You guys will be seeing Leon,” McLellan said after practice. “He won’t be playing, but he’ll be walking around the rink. You look for the guy with the black eye. He’s got a black eye and we’re waiting to hear on its condition and how it affects his head.”
After winning their first game of the season, the Oilers have lost two in a row. And they face an Ottawa team coming off a 6-0 demolition of Calgary on Friday. The Senators do not have a regulation loss in four games this season, despite being without star defenseman Erik Karlsson, a finalist for the Norris Trophy last season. Karlsson is still recovering from offseason surgery on his left foot.
But the Oilers are coming off four days off, and the team used the time to try and shake some of the demons that plagued the team in losses to Vancouver and Winnipeg. The Oilers gave up eight goals in that span but, worryingly, scored only four.
Connor McDavid, the NHL’s top point-getter last season, has four points this season. The Oilers have a total of seven goals as a team so far this campaign. That means the team has just three goals in three games that McDavid hasn’t figured in on. The team badly needs more production out of its other lines.
“I think it was good,” second-line winger Milan Lucic said of the extended break. “I think as a team and as individuals we all got better. I think his (McLellan’s) message was pretty clear on Wednesday that we needed to play harder. I think guys are feeling pretty good about themselves, now.”
But, even though the Sens played on Friday, they were able to manage the game because of the lopsided score line. So they may be fresher than a team usually is when it plays the night before.
“Those ones are always tough … back-to-back and the end of a road trip,” said defenseman Cody Ceci, who scored the opening goal against the Flames. “At the same time, with the lead some guys. maybe didn’t have to play as much as they needed to towards the end of the game. They were trying to rest guys up a little bit and get ready for tomorrow.”
“These are two really good teams (Calgary and Edmonton) and it’s good to have everybody going,” said Senators center Kyle Turris, who has four assists in four games. “It means everybody will be fresh tomorrow.”
The Senators are hoping that defenseman Johnny Oduya will be healthy enough to go against Edmonton. He took the morning skate before Friday’s game in Calgary, but didn’t play that night. He hurt himself in the Senators’ season opener. Coach Guy Boucher indicated that Mike Condon will get the start in goal for the Senators in Edmonton, after Craig Anderson got the shutout in Calgary.
On the other side, McLellan hinted that defenseman Yohan Auvitu, who played 25 games for the New Jersey Devils last season and has been a healthy scratch in the first three Oilers games of the year, may also play against Ottawa.
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