Game 16 Preview: Edmonton Oilers @ Philadelphia Flyers

Image courtesy of flyers.nhl.com

Edmonton Oilers (4-11-2) @ Philadelphia Flyers (4-10-1), 1:00pm, NHL Network/CSN-Philly

Well, a meeting between the second-worst and third-worst teams in the NHL took an interesting turn on Friday. After a day filled with several trade rumors between the two clubs, the Edmonton Oilers signed a recently released Philadelphia Flyer that was at least entertaining, if not productive on the ice, as the Western Conference club signed Ilya Bryzgalov.

It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before a club reached out to the former Philly goaltending character. Ironically, the team that did so signed Bryzgalov the day before he faced his former club. He likely won’t play against the Orange and Black today, but there is a chance he’ll back up Devan Dubnyk today if Jason LaBarbera doesn’t. Also, this does open up the chance for Bryzgalov to face his old teammates when the squads meet again in late December at Rexall Place.

On top of the Bryzgalov signing, trade rumors were all over the place suggesting that a big deal was to take place between the clubs. First, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly tweeted that he heard Jordan Eberle was being brought up in talks between the teams. Later in the day, Ales Hemsky and Wayne Simmonds were mentioned in a variety of trade situations, but ultimately nothing took place. Although it is believed that Hemsky, Simmonds, the Schenn brothers, and Eberle are still being talked about heavily between the two teams, it doesn’t look as though they will be switching teams until after this game if at all.

Aside from all the excitement off the ice, we can only hope these two teams actually produce an entertaining contest on the ice. The last handful of games for the Flyers has resulted in losses, painful losses that haven’t created any exciting or memorable moments (with the exception, of course, of the Washington loss).

With only Steve Downie out of the lineup for Philly, Edmonton will be without several starters including Justin Schultz, Anton Belov, and Richard Bachman, who had the lowest goals against average and highest save percentage in his three-game experience with the club this season. With the injury to Bachman, it sounds as though it will be Dubnyk against Steve Mason.

Along with the injuries, the Flyers, at the moment, will enjoy the advantage of taking on an Oilers’ team that may be suiting up just five defensemen. In a trade with the Calgary Flames on Friday, Edmonton shipped Ladislav Smid to their divisional rival. Without a sign of any player being added from Oklahoma City, it looks as though Philip Larsen will be without a partner or they may attempt to use a forward on the third pairing.

If the injuries and five defensemen weren’t enough of an advantage for the Flyers, they’ll also be facing the team that averages 3.82 goals against per game, the highest average in the NHL. With the subtraction of Bachman, who has allowed seven goals over three games, and Schultz, the team that has the hardest time keeping the puck out of their own net across the NHL is at even more of a disadvantage.

Naturally, that doesn’t mean it should be an easy win for the Flyers. No win this season will come easy to the Orange and Black. They have faced porous defenses and AHL starters throughout the season and have failed to produce more than two goals in 14 of their 15 games to date.

Craig Berube switched up the lines again, which can be looked at in two ways. He’s either doing the best he can with what’s provided or he’s not showing patience with what he believes are the best lines and letting them grow chemistry with one another.

Lineup changes that could produce results are removing Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill replacing them with Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson. The older Schenn will most likely play with more of an edge after being a healthy scratch for a string of games, while Gustafsson could provide the same type energy. Gustafsson will also provide the best opportunity for a defenseman to jump up in the play.

RECORDS
Edmonton Oilers
Overall: 4-11-2
Road: 3-6-2
Against the Eastern Conference: 4-8-1
Against the Metropolitan Division: 1-4-0

Philadelphia Flyers
Overall: 4-10-1
Home: 2-7-0
Against the Western Conference: 0-3-0
Against the Pacific Division: 0-3-0

PROJECTED LINEUPS
Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall – Sam Gagner – Ales Hemsky
David Perron – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Jesse Joensuu – Boyd Gordon – Mark Arcobello
Luke Gazdic – Ryan Smyth – Nail Yakupov

Andrew Ference – Jeff Petry
Nick Schultz – Taylor Fedun
Philip Larsen

Devan Dubnyk
Jason LaBarbera or Ilya Bryzgalov (Possibly)

Philadelphia Flyers
Matt Read – Claude Giroux – Brayden Schenn
Scott Hartnell – Vincent Lecavalier – Wayne Simmonds
Jakub Voracek – Sean Couturier – Michael Raffl
Zac Rinaldo – Adam Hall – Jay Rosehill

Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn
Nicklas Grossmann – Mark Streit
Luke Schenn – Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

TEAM LEADERS
Edmonton Oilers
Goals: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, and Boyd Gordon, 4
Assists: Jordan Eberle and Mark Arcobello, 10
Points: Jordan Eberle, 13
Power-Play Points: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Boyd Gordon, 3
Plus/Minus: Ryan Jones, Plus-3
PIMs: Luke Gazdic, 38
Average TOI: Justin Schultz, 22:01 TOI
GAA: Richard Bachman, 3.02
Save Percentage: Richard Bachman, .916

Philadelphia Flyers
Goals: Vincent Lecavalier, 5
Assists: Claude Giroux, 7
Points: Vincent Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn, and Claude Giroux, 7
Power-Play Points: Vincent Lecavalier and Claude Giroux, 4
Plus/Minus: Tye McGinn, Plus-1
PIMs: Zac Rinaldo, 34
Average TOI: Claude Giroux, 22:08
GAA: Steve Mason, 2.37
Save Percentage: Steve Mason, .925

INJURIES
Edmonton Oilers
David Perron – Strained neck (Questionable)
Jesse Joensuu – Back (Questionable)
Steve MacIntyre – Knee (Injured Reserve)
Corey Potter – Back (Injured Reserve)
Ryan Hamilton – Knee (Injured Reserve)
Tyler Pitlick – Knee (Injured Reserve)
Justin Schultz – Groin (Injured Reserve)
Anton Belov – Lower body (Injured Reserve)
Richard Bachman – Lower body (Injured Reserve)

Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Downie – Concussion (Day-to-day)

FORMER PLAYERS
Former Flyers in Edmonton’s organization
With Edmonton: Ilya Bryzgalov, Craig MacTavish (General Manager), Keith Action (Assistant Coach), Pelle Eklund (Scout)
With the Oklahoma City Barons (AHL): Ben Eager, Matthew Ford (Adirondack Phantoms), Austin Fyten (Invited to Flyers’ Prospects Camp)
With the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL): NONE

Former Oilers in Philadelphia’s organization
With Philadelphia: Chris Pronger
With the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL): Yann Danis, Chris VandeVelde
With the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL): NONE