Both teams head into this contest with a 1-2 record after a slow start to the season. For the Oilers, victory here is an absolute must in the race for the Pacific Division title. The Las Vegas Golden Knights, playing in their inaugural National Hockey League campaign, are currently sitting pretty atop the Pacific and Edmonton cannot afford to fall too far behind.
Meanwhile, Ottawa – 37/1 to win the Stanley Cup in the outright markets with 888Sport -have also struggled to inspire confidence but an overtime win against the Vancouver Canucks may act as the catalyst for the Senators to push on. Early victories are huge in building momentum and neither side will want to lose this one – it could be a fiery affair.
It is still early days but the Oilers have been disappointing so far this year and they are some way from challenging for the Stanley Cup on current form, despite their billing as second favourites at a price of 11/1 with 888Sport. During pre-season, Edmonton were one of the strongest teams but they have failed to build on that positive run; a slow start to the campaign isn’t the end of the world but it could be detrimental to their playoff aspirations.
Scoring goals hasn’t been an issue thus far – and the Oilers will be confident of bagging a couple of goals at the very least on Saturday evening. Edmonton have enough quality in attacking areas to cause plenty of issues for what is a fairly average Ottawa defensive unit and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the Oilers run away with this one if they make an early breakthrough.
KEY MAN: Connor McDavid. Arguably the most talented player in the National Hockey League, McDavid is an elite talent. When the Oilers traded Taylor Hall away, most Edmonton fans were gutted but McDavid has been a major hit. You could even claim that McDavid has blossomed into a more complete player than Hall ever was.
In three appearances so far this season, the Oilers captain has three goals and one assist – putting him in the mix to finish as the top points scorer. Barring a serious injury, McDavid will be central to Edmonton’s chances of snatching a Stanley Cup triumph at the end of the 2018 campaign.
The Senators advanced all the way to the Conference finals last season before ultimately falling short against the Pittsburgh Penguins – and Ottawa will be expecting another deep playoff run in the coming months. As a team, they are a complete unit and you’d struggle to find many more organised teams than the Senators in world ice hockey.
KEY MAN: Erik Karlsson. One of the most consistent defensive players in the business, Erik Karlsson is a real superstar. Without his impact and influence as a defenseman, Ottawa may struggle to reach the playoffs on a yearly basis and he will certainly play his part as they look to challenge for ice hockey’s ultimate prize throughout the campaign.
This one is tough to call but a low-scoring contest looks likely. Connor McDavid is in sublime form right now and he could be Edmonton’s difference maker once again this weekend. On paper, there isn’t much between the two sides and you could even argue that the Senators are blessed with the more complete unit.
However, star quality is hard to come by in the National Hockey League and McDavid gives the Oilers that unique edge whenever he takes to the ice.
OILERS 3-1 SENATORS