Preview: Oilers at Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche have already felt the wrath of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl - the Edmonton Oilers' dynamic duo - this season, and it didn't go well when the league's point leaders combined for 11. Colorado gets another crack at slowing down the tandem when it hosts Pacific Division leader Edmonton on Wednesday.
McDavid scored a hat trick and the pair combined for eight assists - five by Draisaitl - in a 6-2 victory over the Avalanche on Nov. 14. They haven't stopped piling up the numbers since with a combined five goals and 12 assists in the last five games as Draisaitl (48) and McDavid (47) are far ahead in the points race. "I’ve been around them for a while now, but every day they still seem to surprise you with what they can put on the ice,” linemate Zack Kassian told reporters. “They’re wired differently. They’re the elite of the elite.'' Colorado has dropped two straight after a 5-3 loss to Toronto on Saturday and could be without defenseman Erik Johnson, who was cross-checked into the boards by former teammate Alex Kerfoot - a hit that brought a two-game suspension.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), Altitude (Colorado)
ABOUT THE OILERS (16-7-3): McDavid, who boasts an 11-game point streak, has a team-high 18 goals - eight on the league's best power play - while 10 of James Neal's 14 tallies have come with the man advantage. Draisaitl (16 goals) and McDavid have recorded 28 of their 61 assists on the power play. Kassian (eight goals) is on pace to blow away the career high of 15 he set last season as he benefits from playing with McDavid and Draisaitl while providing physical protection.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (13-8-2): Right wing Mikko Rantanen, who signed a six-year, $55.5 million contract before the season started, will likely return by the weekend after missing the last 14 games with an ankle injury. Colorado is also without forwards Gabe Landeskog (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body) and Matt Calvert (concussion), leaving Nathan MacKinnon and defenseman Cale Makar to carry the load. MacKinnon leads the team with 14 goals and 33 points while Makar's 25 points pace league rookies after they combined for five goals and nine assists in the last four games.
1. Edmonton F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (five goals, 16 points) will miss his second straight game because of a hand injury.
2. Colorado G Philipp Grubauer is expected to start Wednesday. He was pulled against Toronto after allowing four goals in the first period.
3. Oilers Gs Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith each appeared in 14 games this season and have combined for a 2.77 goals-against average and .910 save percentage with Koskinen likely to get the call Wednesday.
PREDICTION: Oilers 3, Avalanche 2