Blue Jackets-Oilers Preview
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (11-8-4) at
EDMONTON OILERS (9-13-1)
7:08 p.m. MST
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Edmonton/Columbus Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a six-game homestand tonight in their first meeting of the 2007-08 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus – under the guidance of new general manager Scott Howson – has had a strong start to the season but with the improvement across the board in the Central Division, they’re still having trouble making any moves up the standings.
The Blue Jackets are 11-8-4 and are part of a three-team logjam for second place in the Central Division. The Blue Jackets recently had a stretch of games in which they saw some decline after a 7-3-1 October. Through the first 10 games of November, the Jackets were 2-5-3 but rebounded this past Friday and Saturday with back-to-back wins at Minnesota (4-0) and at home versus Detroit (3-2 in shootout).
On Saturday night, the Oilers let a 2-1 third period lead slip away but rebounded to prevail in the shootout, defeating Chicago 3-2.
The Oilers right now are seven points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference but a giant logjam has playoff seeds three through eight all tied with 26 points apiece. Columbus is in the mix with those teams right now.
Last season, Edmonton won three of four games against Columbus with the only loss coming at Rexall Place last December 2 by a 4-0 score.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (11:24 AM):
Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal again for the Oilers... With Dick Tarnstrom out due to injury, Allan Rourke draws back into the lineup. Mathieu Roy has been sent to Springfield for a two week conditioning stint... Sam Gagner
will play on the left side tonight on the top line with Shawn Horcoff
and Ales Hemsky
OILERS TO WATCH: Shawn Horcoff
continues to be an offensive leader on the Oilers this season. He has nine goals and 20 points through 23 games – leading the team in both categories. Horcoff is also two-for-two in shootouts this season with both attempts coming in the past seven days… Since returning to the lineup on Thursday, defenceman Joni Pitkanen has helped solidify the team’s back end. He has eased himself back into the lineup so far, averaging 20 minutes a game but will pick up more minutes as he starts to get back into game shape. On Saturday, he was one of the best Oilers on the ice despite not having much to show for it on the scoresheet.
BLUE JACKETS TO WATCH:
Columbus is a team that relies on its defence thanks to the spectacular goaltending it’s been getting this season from Pascal Leclaire. Leclaire had five shutouts through his first nine games of the season and has six overall on the year. He has a 1.87 goals-against average and .932 save percentage… Offensively, Rick Nash is the Blue Jackets’ go-to guy. Nash ranks among the league leaders in goals with 16 through 23 games… Defenceman Ron Hainsey is enjoying a breakout season. With 14 points through 23 games, he’s fourth on the Jackets in scoring and on pace to shatter his previous career high of 34 points set last season. Two years ago, Hainsey was claimed off waivers from Montreal.
Edmonton – Dick Tarnstrom (concussion) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Ethan Moreau (foot) is out. Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Mathieu Roy (shoulder) is out. Fernando Pisani (colitis) is out; Columbus – Fredrik Modin (back) is out.
After scoring in only three of the team’s first 11 games, the Oilers power play is finally starting to pick up. The Oilers scored a power play goal in five of eight games going into Saturday’s match-up with Chicago… Columbus forward and former Oilers draft choice David Vyborny played his 500th game on Saturday, becoming the first Blue Jacket to achieve such a feat. Vyborny also notched his 300th career point in that same game, becoming the first player in Blue Jackets history to hit that milestone as well… Columbus has scored three or more goals 12 times this season, with a record of 10-0-2 in those games. When they score two goals or less, the Blue Jackets are 1-8-2… When the Blue Jackets allow two goals or less they’re also a very solid 10-0-1. When they allow three or more, they’re 1-8-3.
Gagner still contributing in his rookie season - Sam Gagner
has been used in many situations and has played everywhere from the first to the fourth line in his rookie campaign. But tonight he will get a new look, playing on the left side with Horcoff and Hemsky for the first time this season. ...more
- Allan Rourke draws back into the lineup tonight. He talks about getting that second opportunity. 700K
- Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff & Craig MacTavish talk about the addition of Gagner to the top line of Horcoff and Hemsky. 700K
- Craig MacTavish talks to media on Sunday following practice. 700K
- Mathieu Roy talks about his injury status on Sunday. 700K
The Other Side
- Blue Jackets Weekly Report - The Columbus Blue Jackets are on one of their two trips to Western Canada this week, with games at Edmonton (Monday), at Vancouver (Thursday), and at Calgary (Saturday). Check out this week's information by reading ...more
Item of the Game
Each game, a different item is featured at The Oilers Store at Rexall Place.
Tonight's item is a Bevel T-Shirt (regular $24.99, now $12.49).
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- New Oilers Player Wallpaper Available! - You can now download the following players: Cogliano, Gagner, Greene, Hemsky, Horcoff, Moreau, Nilsson, Penner, Pitkanen, Roloson, Sanderson, Souray, Stoll, Tarnstrom and Torres with more coming soon! ...more
- Tickets for Troops Online Auction - Auction closes on Wednesday, November 28th at 9:00 p.m. MST. Proceeds from the Tickets For Troops Online Auction will go to the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation and the Garrison Edmonton Military Family Resource Centre. ...more
From the Wire
Facing the best teams in the league doesn't seem to be a problem for the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's the struggling ones that still give them trouble.
After beating division leaders in each of their last two games, the Blue Jackets hope to avoid a letdown when they start a three-game road trip on Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Blue Jackets lost three of four to the Oilers last season with the lone win being a 4-0 shutout on Dec. 2 in Edmonton. Columbus is just 3-8-0 with one tie all-time at Rexall Place.
Columbus (11-8-4) defeated Central Division-leading Detroit 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday to move six points back of the Red Wings. The win came a day after the Blue Jackets beat Northwest leader Minnesota 4-0.
"For some reason, playing teams higher up in the standings brings out the best in us," said Manny Malhotra, who scored his fourth goal on Saturday. "It really shouldn't be that way. Our intensity level and our effort shouldn't be predicated on who we're playing."
Columbus - 4-5-2 on the road this season - hopes not to overlook Edmonton, which is last in the Northwest with 19 points.
Goaltender Pascal Leclaire made 23 saves on Saturday after stopping 32 shots in Friday's win over the Wild for his league-leading sixth shutout. In his only career start against the Oilers, Leclaire made 25 saves in a 4-1 home loss on Nov. 10, 2006.
Both Nikolai Zherdev and Rick Nash will try to extend season-high point streaks. Zherdev has two goals and five assists during his five-game run while Nash has a six-game streak during which he's posted five goals and five assists.
Nash, the Blue Jackets' leading scorer with 16 goals and 27 points, has failed to register a point in his last five visits to Edmonton.
The Oilers (9-13-1), who will wrap up a season-high six-game homestand, are coming off a 3-2 shootout win over Chicago on Saturday. Rookie Sam Gagner scored the winning goal for Edmonton, which has won both of its games on the homestand in shootouts.
"We obviously have some pretty good confidence going in the shootouts," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose teams leads the NHL with six shootout wins. "Thankfully, we have that aspect of our game going."
Not much else has gone right for Edmonton, though. The Oilers are averaging just 2.3 goals per game, and converting a league-low 11.2 percent of their power-play opportunities.
Edmonton did get a solid outing from Dwayne Roloson against the Blackhawks, after backup Mathieu Garon had started the last three games. Having posted a 3.65 goals-against average in losing each of his last five starts, Roloson made 38 saves against the Blackhawks for his first win since Oct. 25.
Roloson went 2-1-0 with a 1.50 GAA and one shutout against the Blue Jackets last season, and is 5-6-2 with a 2.00 GAA and two shutouts against them in his career. Garon, who is 3-2-0 with a 2.34 GAA since Nov. 10, is 4-1-1 with one tie, one shutout and a 2.43 GAA lifetime against Columbus.
Ales Hemsky scored in his second straight game on Saturday, giving him seven this season. Hemsky has a goal and five assists in his last four games against the Blue Jackets.