MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers at Chicago

Oilers open nine-game road trip tonight at the United Center

Monday, 25.02.2013 / 2:13 PM

AT THE MORNING SKATE

CHICAGO - The Edmonton Oilers kick off a nine-game road trip tonight in Chicago against the 15-0-3 Blackhawks. Chicago is currently in the midst of extending the NHL record for games without a regulation loss to start the season and the Oilers will be looking to put an end to that tonight.

Tonight will be the second game in Taylor Hall's suspension and as a result, the team will once again do some line juggling. The team had an optional skate and didn't run lines but head coach Ralph Krueger said that it will be similar to what it was on Saturday against Phoenix.

"It'll be similar to the last game with Taylor Hall out of the lineup. Depending on what's coming at us, looking at the opposition and the lines that are matched up. There are some interchangeable parts," said Krueger.

The bench boss added that he would like to keep Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins together as a pair as well as Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.

"Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins sticking with Gagner and Hemsky but otherwise pretty much anything can happen on the forward lines."

There is the possibility that Magnus Paajarvi may find himself on a line with Gagner and Hemsky to start. Lennart Petrell also draws back in.

"We've placed Teemu Hartikainen on the IR," said Krueger, noting that the shoulder has been troubling the Finnish winger.

Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start in goal.

READY FOR CHICAGO

Oilers winger Jordan Eberle was asked how to prepare for tonight's game against the red hot Blackhawks.

"The same as every game," he said, matter of factly. "This is a league where anyone can beat anyone at any time. The biggest thing for us is we have to do the right things with the puck. This is a team that has a lot of weapons and I think if you give them a chance on the power play, odd-man rushes and turnovers, they're going to capitalize.

"The biggest thing is to try and keep them away from our net."

Eberle also talked about the Oilers' success against Chicago, having scored 24 goals against them with some lopsided victories.

"I don't think it's anything about their team," he said. "It's a fun building to play in. There's a lot of energy and a great atmosphere. It's easy to get up for these games but that was last year and this is this year. It's a new season and we have to be just as prepared as any other game."

PETRELL RETURNS

Lennart Petrell makes his return to the lineup after missing over a week after getting hit by a puck in warm-up a week ago Saturday against Colorado.

"It's good," he said. "I've been feeling pretty good the last three or four days. I'm finally getting to play. It's exciting."

Petrell talked about the odd play which led to his injury.

"The puck came off from the crossbar or post -- I didn't see it -- and it hit me in the side of my head. I didn't feel that bad right after but it started a little later."

-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com

NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW

OILERS (7-7-3) at BLACKHAWKS (15-0-3)

TV: SNET-W, CSN-CH

Last 10: Edmonton 3-5-2; Chicago 9-0-1.

Season series: This is the first of three meetings.

Big story: The Blackhawks continue to rewrite the history books with each passing game. Chicago made it 18 straight games to start the season without a regulation loss with Sunday night’s 1-0 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center.

Team scope:

Oilers: Monday marks the beginning of a nine-game, 17-day road trip for Edmonton. The Oilers closed a five-game homestand Saturday, when they earned a 3-2 shootout victory at Rexall Place. Jordan Eberle and Teemu Hartikainen each scored for the Oilers in regulation, while Eberle and Sam Gagner tallied in the shootout to help Edmonton get back to the .500 mark. Nikolai Khabibulin finished with 34 saves.

"We were very disappointed with the way the last couple games went and the importance at this point was clear," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's a compliment to the team to come back in a game of this magnitude. To go on the road now with these points gives us some good energy here."

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford was back between the pipes Sunday night for the first time in 12 days, but you could hardly tell. Crawford stopped all 28 shots he faced, allowing Andrew Shaw’s second-period goal to stand up as the Blackhawks made it 18 in a row without a regulation loss as they edged the Blue Jackets on home ice.

"I just focus on whatever comes at me, but our guys did a good job to let me see pucks, clear rebounds and a couple times made some big blocks on a couple backdoor plays," Crawford said. "It feels good to get back in there and play again.”

Who’s hot: Eberle has three goals in the past four games for the Oilers, while Chicago’s goaltending tandem of Crawford and Ray Emery has allowed just one goal of the past two contests.

Injury report: Edmonton will be without forwards Taylor Hall (suspended), Anton Lander (foot) and Shawn Horcoff (hand) … Blackhawks center Dave Bolland is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

-- Brian Compton - NHL.com Staff Writer

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