By Jesse Granger (contact)
Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 | 3 p.m.
The Golden Knights have faced some of the best players in the NHL through their first 16 games, but none as good as Oilers’ phenom Connor McDavid.
Vegas has held Jamie Benn, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jonathan Toews and Auston Matthews all scoreless, and it was largely due to the play of Luca Sbisa. The 27-year-old Swiss defenseman has been on the ice for the majority of every opposing star players’ ice time during each one of those games, and he has limited their production.
Now the Golden Knights face their biggest test yet in McDavid, and they do it without Sbisa, who didn’t make the trip to Edmonton. Coach Gerard Gallant said Monday that Sbisa was “day-to-day with soreness” but wouldn’t elaborate.
Jon Merrill replaces Sbisa in the lineup. The 25-year-old has played in only three games this season and hasn’t recorded a point, but he has a plus-minus of plus-2. Vegas will likely have to take a committee approach to containing McDavid, as well as dangerous forwards Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic.
“You just have to be aware when their studs are out there,” Miller said. “They’re obviously a very offensive team, so you have to have good gaps and not give them too much space. If you give them their space, then that’s when they can build up their speed and work by you.”
The Golden Knights may not have heavy-hitting enforcers to slow down the Oilers, but they’ve got fast-skating defenseman who can keep up.
“I don’t think we are going to be a big, bruising team,” Miller said. “We are built on speed, so we will try to skate with them.”
The last road trip wasn’t good to the Golden Knights, as they won just one of six games, but Miller said that trip will help them on this one.
“I think it makes us more aware that it’s not so easy to win on the road,” Miller said. “We have to improve on our starts on the road. I think our second halves of the game were pretty good; it was just our starts that killed us.”
Prediction : Oilers 4, Golden Knights 2
Season record for predictions: 8-7
Puck drops: 6 p.m.
Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760, Dish Network 5414)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-170, Total 6 minus-120 to the under
Golden Knights (10-5-1) (3-4-1 away)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: James Neal (9)
Assist leader: David Perron (9)
Expected goalie: Maxime Lagace (2-4-1, 3.58 goals against average)
Edmonton Oilers (6-9-2) (3-6-0 away)
Coach: Todd McLellan
Goal leader: Connor McDavid (7)
Assist leader: Connor McDavid (12)
Expected goalie: Cam Talbot (6-8-1, 2.90 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller and Nate Schmidt.
Goalies (2): Maxime Lagace and Dylan Ferguson