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Struggling Oilers will be missing injured star Connor McDavid vs. Rangers

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Rangers will face a reeling Oilers team that will be without Connor McDavid for the second game in a row Thursday night at Rogers Place.

The overall numbers Edmonton has posted through its 1-4-1 start are alarming, but that only means the Rangers are going to see a desperate opponent that is itching to get back in the win column.

“It’s a huge opportunity, obviously never fun when you have the best player in the world and he’s not playing for your team because he’s injured,” Oilers forward Zach Hyman told reporters this week. “It’s a good opportunity for the rest of the group to pick our game up. There’s a lot of ice time available. I think it’s a good opportunity for our depth to be showcased and for guys who want more of a role to kind of grab it.”

Defensively and in goal, the Oilers have struggled all around.

Edmonton is currently ranked 11th in preventing high-danger shot attempts at five-on-five, in addition to sitting in dead last in high-danger save percentage (60.53) due to the combined effort from goalies Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, according to Natural Stat Trick.

The Oilers also didn’t score a third-period goal until their sixth game of the season, when Evander Kane netted a power-play goal in the club’s 7-4 loss to the Wild on Tuesday night in Minnesota.

Oilers star Connor McDavid, who is battling an upper body injury, won't play against the Rangers.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Since the 2012-13 season, the Blueshirts are 5-2-2 on the road against the Oilers, including a shootout victory last Feb. 17.

“I think it’s just going out there and playing,” Hyman said of adjusting without McDavid. “Obviously, you’re missing a big piece in all aspects of the game, even strength, power play and penalty kill now, too. A little adjustment on those specialty units. But I think we just have to go out there and play and build chemistry with the lines that we have.”

The Rangers are tied for the fourth-fewest goals against in the NHL with 13, as well as the fifth-fewest goals against per game at 2.17.

Additionally, the Rangers have allowed the fewest shots per game in the entire league with 24.

In all four of their wins this season, the Rangers have held their opponent to a single goal.

After an unscheduled off day in Edmonton on Wednesday, the Rangers will skate Thursday morning before they face the Oilers that night.

They’ll then venture to Vancouver, where they’ll practice on Friday in preparation of their matchup with the Canucks on Saturday night.