Which team is worse off right now from an injury perspective, the Edmonton Oilers or the Montreal Canadiens? Edmonton was dealt a killer blow in their last game, losing star winger Taylor Hall for the next four weeks with a knee injury. That would be a lot to deal with if it was all they had, but they're also missing second line center Sam Gagner, and lost Ryan Smyth last game as well. To make matters worse, Jordan Eberle is a game time decision tonight, though he skated in practice today, which suggests that he'll be in.
The Habs are missing their own star winger in Max Pacioretty, along with Brandon Prust, Alexei Emelin, Danny Briere, Douglas Murray, and George Parros. What that means is that impressive rookie Michael Bournival gets bumped all the way from the fourth line to the first line, as Michel Therrien will count on his speed to complement Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta while trying to shut down Edmonton's best remaining players.
Travis Moen also gets bumped up, and he'll hopefully add some defensive responsibility to the David Desharnais line, which has been consistently bad. However Edmonton's hurting depth could provide an opportunity for Desharnais to break out a little bit, and he still has Rene Bourque to set up.
On the fourth line, Ryan White will center the two wingers recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs, Michael Blunden inches closer to 100 NHL games, and Patrick Holland will make his NHL debut. Holland was acquired in the trade that sent Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames along with Kari Ramo. You can read about Holland in his latest Top 25 Under 25 profile, where he occupied the coveted #25 spot.
This lineup means that once again, the Habs will be banking much of their offense on the line of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk, and Brendan Gallagher. All three were excellent against Nashville on Saturday, but Galchenyuk seems to be a step behind the other two as he slowly emerges from a few games of struggling.
Gallagher on the other hand, had his best game of the year, firing an incredible 9 shots on Pekka Rinne. The young right winger is even more important now with Pacioretty sidelined for three weeks, as he's the only high shot volume goal scorer the team has left.
Also playing tonight is Nathan Beaulieu, drawing in for Jarred Tinordi after the latter had his lowest ice time of the season against Nashville. Tinordi has been carefully sheltered all season, but still hasn't found the success he had in the preseason. Part of that is certainly that he's now being forced to play on the right side, something which Beaulieu will have to do as well to accommodate Francis Bouillon.
The Oilers are coming off of just their second win of the season, after grinding out a slim victory over Ottawa on Saturday afternoon. Devan Dubnyk was the first star of that contest, and seems to have finally regained the form that saw him win the Oilers' top job in the first place.
The game will be broadcasted on RDS, TSN-Habs, and Sportsnet West.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Avant match : Oilers vs Canadiens
- Hamilton call-ups, Oiler injuries and it's Half-past Hammer time (and other links)
- Montreal Canadiens call up Nathan Beaulieu... Again
- Catching the Torch Oct. 14-20 Edition
- Hamilton Bulldogs Player of the Week: Greg Pateryn