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Oilers at Sharks Preview: Desperate for two points

Please beat the Edmonton Connor McDavids, guys.

SAN JOSE, CA - APRIL 22: Brenden Dillon #4 of the San Jose Sharks and Anton Slepyshev #42 of the Edmonton Oilers go for the puck during Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 22, 2017 Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Sharks are meeting with the Edmonton Oilers at a very interesting time. The trade deadline has come and passed and both teams made some moves. The Oilers traded Patrick Maroon to the New Jersey Devils. It will certainly be interesting to see the Oilers without a key player. The Sharks, meanwhile, made a blockbuster move and obtained Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres.

As we all know, the Central Division road trip did not go well for the Sharks. The Sharks return home to the SAP Center with only three points from four games. We’re in the final stretch of the season, and the need for points is heavy after the lack thereof from the roadie. The Pacific Division is far too close to call going into the playoffs, the Sharks must capitalize on their division rival tonight.

The Sharks looked much better against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Joakim Ryan netted the first goal of the evening, starting the game out strong. Chris Tierney scored in the second period, giving the Sharks a 2-0 lead. Things felt good for the first time in awhile! Things went south, though. Matt Cullen replied with a goal in the second period and Eric Staal found the back of the net in the third to tie it up. In overtime, Jared Spurgeon scored, giving the Sharks only one point.

The Sharks and Oilers met back in December and the Oilers came out of it with a 5-3 win. Goals from Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Letestu, and two from Ryan Strome sealed the deal for the Oilers. They met again earlier this month, this time the result was more favorable for the Sharks. San Jose won 6-4. Edmonton saw two goals from Zack Kassian and one goal each from Leon Draisaitl and Brandon Davidson.

This season has been a disappointing one for the Oilers. They have failed to live up to the hype they left us with last season. Things have been a bit better lately for the struggling Oilers, though. They played two big intradivision games and walked away with three points. Against the Los Angeles Kings, they pulled off a 4-3 regulation time win. Two of the goals came from Ryan Strome and Leon Draisaitl, two offensive powerhouses for the Oilers. They played the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday and walked away with a 6-5 shootout win. Ryan Strome had two of those goals.

The Edmonton Oilers made an interesting trade, moving a once key player Patrick Maroon to the trade-happy New Jersey Devils. The Oilers received a third-round draft pick and college player, J.D. Dudek. That wasn’t the only interesting trade they made. They sent Mark Letestu to the Nashville Predators for forward Pontus Aberg. They also traded Brandon Davidson to the New York Islander for a draft pick.

“We went into this deadline ... to try and get returns that would more immediately assist our organization. So, prospects. We did in one transaction, we didn’t in two others. It was a tough market out there. Maybe part of it was our players, just in general, weren’t as good as they were before. And I think that’s part perception and part reality,” said General Manager Peter Chiarelli in a press conference on Monday. It’s clear the Oilers are desperate for some change.

How can the Sharks’ struggling defense hold off Strome and Draisitl?

The Sharks’ defense has been particularly spotty in preventing goals. All the blame cannot be placed on Martin Jones or Aaron Dell — the guys on the blue line have been struggling. Tonight, they have to be on it. Connor McDavid is enough of a force to be reckoned with, add in the fact that Strome and Draisitl have been delivering like crazy lately, strong D is key. Regardless of who is in net, they have to be sure to cover the crease. The man-on-man coverage will be important. The defense will have to be strong on the Oilers’ scoring trifecta.

Hopefully Justin Braun will be back in the lineup tonight, giving the D a little more stability in the pairings. He was ill against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

Will we see Evander Kane make his San Jose debut?

I’m going to assume it’s a safe bet we see Evander Kane in teal for the first time tonight. Regardless of how you feel about the trade, or who Kane is as a person, we have to admit he is a good player. Kane has played in 61 games this season, racking up 40 points. He has 20 goals and 20 assists on the season. The Sharks are looking to fill some of the holes left from Joe Thornton's injury. Will Kane produce in teal? Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.

What will the Oilers look like without Patrick Maroon?

Patrick Maroon’s trade seemed too imminent. He hadn’t played since Edmonton defeated the Boston Bruins on February 20th. In the 57 games he played this season, he had 15 goals and 16 assists. Last season, which ended with a short-lived playoff run, Maroon had 27 goals and 15 assists. The Oilers have been struggling, and Patrick Maroon’s trade value was high. I think the Edmonton Oilers may just improve without Maroon. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare with the lineup changes they’ve made within the trade deadline.

Bold prediction: Evander Kane scores on his debut. I mean, I don’t want him to, but he will.

Make sure you check back later for projected lines in our gameday thread. If you’ve got some bold predictions, leave ‘em in the comments below!