EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Washington Capitals have been giving up an average of two goals a game. The Edmonton Oilers have been scoring an average of nearly four a game.
So, something has to give when these two teams play Wednesday night at Rogers Place. The date in Edmonton marks the beginning of a four-game Western Canadian road swing for the Caps (3-1-1).
The Oilers go into the game on a three-game winning streak, including Sunday's 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets outdoors at the Heritage Classic.
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The Caps spoke Tuesday about limiting the Oilers chances, controlling what the Oilers can do. The Oilers are a team that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade, yet one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference is talking about damage control. It shows just how things feel very different in Edmonton right now.
Caps coach Barry Trotz said it all begins with limiting Connor McDavid, who leads the Oilers with nine points in six games.
"Just like any elite player, with Connor, (there's) elite speed and skill. If you give time and space, even if you don't give him the time and space, he's still going to make some plays," said Trotz We're just going to have to try and control him, keep him in front as much as we can."
But Trotz said it's the depth of the Oilers that gets you. Of any of the skaters who have played this season, only two have yet to get a point.
"We made the comment as a staff that they've got skill on the three lines, actually, the four lines," said Trotz. "But they have one player who's a heavy sort of physical type player on each line.
"They're playing really good, they're the top team in the league right now."
Wait, we're talking about the Oilers, right?
Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said his team needs to focus on shutting down the Oilers top line of McDavid, Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle. They have 19 points in the first six games of the season.
"Their team is off to a good start and I am sure they have a lot to do with it," said Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. "They have two really skilled guys and then Lucic is that up-and-down winger, straight lines. I think he probably creates some space for them by driving the net and being around the net."
On Monday, Oilers goalie Cam Talbot was named the NHL's first star of the week. He's already the second Oiler this season to get the honor -- McDavid got the nod after the first week of the season. He'll be staring down a Washington team that has just 13 goals scored this season, but an offence led by sniper Alex Ovechkin can explode at any time.
Talbot said he expects Ovechkin to "shoot, shoot, shoot. Every time the puck gets on his stick he seems to be putting it to the net. I've got to be ready every time he's on the ice, but he's not the only weapon they have."
Oilers coach Todd McLellan said it's important not to get carried away by the Oilers' early successes.
"It's still so early in the year, and we're still a development-type team, a team that is growing. A growth team, that's what I called us before. Our club has a lot of work to do and we're not, by any means, getting ahead of ourselves. It's nice to feel a bit of positive energy at the beginning of the year, where we haven't had that in the past. We've worked hard to earn that. But, there's way too much hockey in front of us."
Look for the Caps to try some new line combinations Wednesday, including T.J. Oshie with Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson.