If you are a casual hockey fan or bettor, you probably had no inclination to pay any attention to the Edmonton Oilers over the past decade or so. The franchise that had the audacity to trade Wayne Gretzky hasn't made the playoffs since losing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006. And, frankly, the Oilers might not be that great this season, either, as they have opened the season with just one total goal in losses at St. Louis and Nashville.
But it will be a tough ticket to get Thursday night in Edmonton's home opener against the Blues as it will be the home debut as well of heavily-hyped rookie Connor McDavid, considered the best talent to enter the league since Sidney Crosby. McDavid hasn't done much yet with a minus-one rating and no goals in the first two games, but he's the heavy favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. McDavid, who is only 5-for-24 on faceoffs, gets a chance to get his first point Tuesday night in Dallas. The Stars are -165 on BetOnline for the game.
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Here are some other games to watch this week.
Montreal at Pittsburgh, Tuesday: The Penguins are -130 favorites with a total of 5. Pittsburgh hasn't looked very good thus far, totaling one goal -- by new addition Phil Kessel -- in losses in Dallas and Arizona. Maybe playing at home will spur the team. Crosby not only hasn't scored yet but doesn't even have an official shot on goal -- his lone attempt was blocked. His linemates, Kessel (nine) and Chris Kunitz (four), have put 13 shots on goal. It's the first time since mid-December 2010 that Crosby hasn't registered a shot in back-to-back games. Montreal has impressed thus far with a 3-0 start, all on the road and all by one goal. Backup Mike Condon was in net Sunday in Ottawa but starter Carey Price will be back in there for this one.
Chicago at Philadelphia, Wednesday: Apparently those sexual assault allegations -- still unresolved with no charges filed in Buffalo -- aren't bothering Blackhawks star Patrick Kane too much. He leads the league with six points as the Hawks have started 2-1-0, all three games against the New York City teams. Coach Joel Quenneville put Russian rookie Artemi Panarin, new addition Artem Anisimov and Kane together for the Blackhawks' final preseason game, and that line has excelled so far. Anisimov was one of the pieces the Hawks got back in the Brandon Saad trade with Columbus.
Minnesota at Los Angeles, Friday: Lot of people liked the Kings to win the Western Conference this season. But they have been awful through two games, getting outscored 9-2 at home by San Jose and Arizona. To kickstart the offense, Kings coach Darryl Sutter has moved Dustin Brown to the top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik. Brown took Milan Lucic's spot on that line. The Kings have lost left winger Dwight King for 8-10 weeks to a broken foot. He had 13 goals and 13 assists for the Kings last season.
Blue Jackets at Blackhawks, Saturday: I mentioned Saad above, and this will be his return to the Windy City; no doubt he will get a warm welcome as Saad was a big reason why the Hawks won last season's Stanley Cup. Chicago had every intention of re-signing the young power forward, but the Hawks were well over the salary cap and at least got some value for Saad instead of letting him become a free agent. Columbus signed him to a six-year extension.
The Sabres have lost goaltender Robin Lehner for 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Lehner suffered the injury while making his Sabres debut in Thursday's loss to the Ottawa Senators. He was acquired from Ottawa this offseason along with center David Legwand for the 21st pick in June's draft. Now Chad Johnson becomes the clear-cut starter.
Bruins left wing Brad Marchand is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered in Saturday's loss to Montreal. Marchand was attempting to make a play when his head made contact with the elbow of Canadiens right winger Dale Weise. Marchand had 24 goals and 18 assists last year and hadn't tallied a point yet this season.
Carolina has lost defenseman and new addition James Wisniewski for six months with a torn ACL suffered in the season opener. Wisniewski was paired with defenseman John-Michael Liles and putting in his second shift of the game when he was injured along the boards at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena. Wisniewski was acquired this offseason from Anaheim. Last season, Wisniewski played in 69 games with the Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets, tallying eight goals and 26 assists.
Islanders No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak has yet to play this season with what is only being vaguely called an upper-body injury. Halak left New York's preseason opener on Sept. 21 after two periods and was sidelined for most of training camp. Thomas Greiss will continue to start as long as Halak is out.
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