Oilers Gameday Preview: Anaheim Ducks – 4/1/23

The Edmonton Oilers find themselves in a really strong position as they have put together a nice winning streak against divisional opponents over the past several games. They are only two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the lead in the Pacific Division and are attempting to gain a nice cushion on the Los Angeles Kings who are only a point behind them right now.

With just six games left, the Oilers are trying to win their division. It’s a very possible outcome this late in the year with the race being as tight as it is. They have been focusing on one game at a time, so they now have to focus on getting past the struggling Anaheim Ducks, who currently sit dead last in the Pacific Division.

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The Ducks are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Seattle Kraken, while the Oilers are coming off a 2-0 win over the Kings in what felt like a playoff matchup with the amount of rough stuff that happened in between the whistles. The Oilers will be looking for their 45th win of the season and will be trying to hit 99 points.

Notes/Keys to the Game

This is some of the best hockey the Oilers have played all season, so one key to the game will be to simply continue where they left off against the Kings, and play similarly to how they did against the Golden Knights who they recently defeated 7-4 where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had five points. The Ducks have been, simply put, terrible this season. It shouldn’t be hard to outplay them but the team can’t play down to their level. It’s not a close matchup on paper, so hopefully that stays true when both teams hit the ice.

Devin Shore Edmonton Oilers
Devin Shore, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers’ depth has played solid even with the lack of offensive production. The play away from the puck for players like Klim Kostin, Devin Shore and Mattias Janmark has been noticeable during the team’s recent stretch and it has been one of the key factors in their wins.

The stellar goaltending of Stuart Skinner has also been a huge confidence boost for the team. When he plays well, it seems to influence the rest of the team’s play. His shutout against the Kings will be a momentum boost they will need to ride going into their match against the Ducks.

Expected Lineup Changes/Goalie Matchup

The Oilers are expected to run an 11-7 style lineup for this April Fools Day matchup, with Philip Broberg making his way back into the lineup. No significant changes from the last time they did this, but Shore will probably be sitting.

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The Ducks aren’t expected to make any changes to their lineup at all. They will be without their star player Trevor Zegras, as well as Troy Terry, Jamie Drysdale, Adam Henrique and Urho Vaakanainen amongst a few others who are still battling injuries. The Oilers may have Ryan McLeod back, but that’s not confirmed yet, while Ryan Murray remains out.

The goalie matchup, while not confirmed, is expected to be Skinner versus John Gibson. Both goalies have been playing well for their respective teams, so it should be a good battle between the pipes. Although, I fully expect Gibson to be lit up in comparison to Skinner. The Ducks’ horrendous defensive play has hurt his individual stats, and the relationship between the team and their star goaltender seems to be getting worse as they’ve both stated they’d like to move on from each other.

While the Ducks have been awful, the Oilers need these two points and can’t take them lightly. Winning this game will put them closer to a division title and a much easier opponent in the first round of the playoffs. A full 60 minutes is needed from the whole lineup in order to pull out a much-needed victory.

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