Edmonton Oilers host Pittsburgh Penguins on December 20 in a match-up that will feature one of the National Hockey League’s biggest stars.
Connor McDavid will lead the Oilers’ scoring threat against a Penguins team who are likely to be without star forward Sidney Crosby.
The Oilers had looked on course for a comfortable ride in the Pacific Division this term, but a significant dip in form sent their long-suffering fans into meltdown.
With just one appearance in the play-offs in the last 13 years, it is fair to say that the Oilers’ faithful have suffered more than their fair share of heartbreak.
However, with McDavid well on course for another 100-plus point campaign, hopes are high in Edmonton that the team can qualify for the post-season this time around.
With Leon Draisaitl also lighting the lamp on a frequent basis, the Oilers have plenty of firepower at their disposal.
Their defence has been praised in certain quarters, although the Oilers’ goals against tally could do with some improvement.
This will be an area Pittsburgh will undoubtedly be looking to exploit when they visit Edmonton, although it is expected they will have to do it without Crosby’s help.
The 32-year-old underwent core muscle surgery to repair a sports hernia during November and could be out for the rest of the year.
The Penguins had won six in a row against the Oilers prior to a 2-1 home defeat earlier this season and they will be out for revenge in their latest meeting.
They have managed to stay in the play-off mix despite Crosby’s absence and can be expected to improve their form when he eventually returns to the ice.
With Crosby missing this is definitely a tough assignment for Pittsburgh and the Oilers are strongly fancied to record an important victory.
The Oilers versus Penguins game is one of seven NHL fixtures scheduled that evening, with the clash between New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs the other standout fixture.
Minnesota Wild versus Winnipeg Jets should also be extremely entertaining, while Washington Capitals will fancy their chances of racking up a big score at struggling New Jersey Devils.