In their first two games this season, the Edmonton Oilers have dug themselves deep holes early then trying to find their way out. That’s something they are looking to correct Tuesday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
The Oilers have trailed by three goals after the first 21 minutes of each of their two games, most recently spotting four goals to the Calgary Flames in the first period Saturday and eventually losing 4-3.
In their season opener against the Vancouver Canucks, they trailed 2-0 in the first period and were down by three less than a minute into the second before rallying for a 5-3 stunner, after a hat trick from Connor McDavid.
“It’s tough to come back every single night, so it’s something we’ve definitely got to address,” defenseman Cody Ceci said. “It seems like once we get going we’re a good team, but you can’t play from behind every single night.
“We’re definitely coming out a little flat kind of seeing what other teams got instead of just showing them what we have. We have so much skill and so much offense. If we pour it on teams early, I think it’ll put them on their heels a little bit.”
Goalie Stuart Skinner will make his first start of the season Tuesday. Skinner took over in relief of Jack Campbell on Saturday, stopping all 31 shots he faced.
Tuesday’s tilt kicks off a four-game road trip for the Sabres, which will take them through Western Canada and Seattle.
Buffalo is coming off a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday, in which coach Don Granato tinkered with his lines in the latter half of the game.
That continued at practice Monday, with personnel changes on each of the four lines. Granato, however, advised not to read too much into the swaps, putting an emphasis on other details of practice that were higher priority.
Among the changes made, Alex Tuch was reunited on the top line with left wing Jeff Skinner and center Tage Thompson. The trio combined to form a dominant unit last season, Thompson breaking out for 38 goals and 68 points and Skinner rebounding with 33 goals and 63 points.
Thompson and Skinner are still in search of their first points of the season, but Granato said he isn’t concerned.
“The determined ones always push through and their confidence never takes a hit,” he said. “They are determined that they’re going to be successful. We have to have that type of approach … I don’t really worry about our guys long term.”
While he and other teammates work to get their offense going, Thompson knows it will be a delicate balance against the Oilers, with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the other side.
“Obviously everyone knows those guys are probably the two best in the league,” he said. “In terms of generating offense … just try not to out-chance them. They’re going to try to do plays every time they get the puck and I think just being patient and waiting for opportunities, just being in their face, making it difficult on them, trying to frustrate them, and then make them make turnovers and then we’ll get our offense from there.”
–Field Level Media