Road trip opens in Nashville
With six games remaining in their 2006-07 schedule, the Edmonton Oilers look to end things on a positive note beginning tonight in Nashville.
Pride is on the line for Edmonton tonight, looking to avenge Saturday's loss and perhaps put a dent in Nashville's hopes for finishing first in the conference.
"You don't want to be embarrassed out there," Petr Sykora said yesterday. "We have to go out, play hard, and get a couple of wins because it has sucked lately."
Joffrey Lupul agreed that the team still has a lot to play for and will be hoping for a positive result tonight.
"A lot of us are just looking for something positive to look at going into next season," he said. "Everyone has something to play for. There's a lot of guys playing for a spot on the team and everyone wants more ice time the next year. This is almost like a tryout for a lot of guys."
After returning from their three-game Western Canadian road swing at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Predators had the day off but for Monday's practice everybody was in good spirits and the team seemed to have a spring in their step.
"They had a lot of jump," Head Coach Barry Trotz stated. "It must have been good home cooking when they got home last night. They were pretty playful, which was good. You never know coming back when the sun is coming up and the birds are chirping. It throws off your sleep patterns a little."
The trip didn't go quite as planned with a loss in Vancouver and an overtime loss in Calgary prior to Saturday's win at Rexall Place but the Predators still have a slight hold on first place in the Western Conference.
With Detroit's win last night, the two teams are tied with 103 points apiece and a crucial head-to-head meeting this Thursday. Nashville currently holds the tiebreaker with two more wins.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Jarret Stoll (concussion) is out. Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Steve Staios (knee) is out. Daniel Tjarnqvist (sports hernia) is out. Jan Hejda (shoulder) is out. Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is probable. Petr Nedved (knee) is out; Nashville – Steve Sullivan (back spasms) is day-to-day. Scott Nichol (broken thumb) is doubtful. Scott Hartnell (broken foot) is out. Martin Erat (sprained knee) is out. Jordin Tootoo (suspension) is out.
OILERS TO WATCH: Coach Craig MacTavish stated that Jussi Markkanen will likely get four starts out of the six remaining games this season but it looks like Dwayne Roloson will get the nod tonight. His last time out, he was brilliant in saving a season-high 43 shots in Edmonton's 4-3 shootout win versus Colorado. He also stopped all five players in the shootout... Ales Hemsky will also be back in the lineup after resting his injured shoulder on Saturday. Hemsky scored a goal in his return Friday night versus Colorado.
PREDATORS TO WATCH: Peter Forsberg has really started to pick up his play over the past few games after returning from an upper body injury. He has five assists in his last four outings including two on Saturday against the Oilers. He's also provided the Predators with another dimension offensively, playing on a line with Alexander Radulov and Vern Fiddler. Said Predators head coach Barry Trotz: "They got to know him a little bit, found out he's a terrific guy and I think the awestruck is gone a little bit. Now he's just one of their teammates."