NEW YORK RANGERS (20-17-4) at
EDMONTON OILERS (17-21-4)
8:08 p.m. MST
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Rangers Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
After a four-game road trip, the Edmonton Oilers return home to open the second half of the season against the New York Rangers.
It’s been over six years since the Rangers last paid a visit to Edmonton. On January 2, 2002 the Oilers defeated New York by a score of 4-1. The last time these two teams met at all was almost two years ago on January 12, 2006. The Rangers prevailed 5-4 in overtime. Prior to the game, Mark Messier’s jersey was retired by New York.
Edmonton ended a six-game winless streak with an overtime victory Wednesday in St. Louis but fell 5-2 to Nashville the next night to finish their four-game road trip 1-2-1. Tonight’s game commences a five-game homestand in which the team needs to put together a string of wins if they want to get back in a playoff spot.
The Rangers are currently in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but with only six points separating third from 13th there are no guarantees. Right now, they are tied with Boston for sixth spot.
New York has been playing better of late after a tough start to December but are still experiencing some hiccups. After a stretch during the month that saw them go 2-6-2, they won three straight before losing back-to-back games in Calgary and Vancouver on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. The Rangers look to salvage their three-game Western Canadian road swing this evening.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATES (1:00 PM):
Denis Grebeshkov is a healthy scratch tonight due to Sheldon Souray
coming back in for the Oilers... Gagner will be playing on a line with Stortini and Brodziak, Hemsky is back on the top line with Penner and Horcoff while the other two lines remain the same for tonight. Defence pairings are Tarnstrom and Smid, Souray and Staios plus Pitkanen and Gilbert.
LINEUP UPDATES (11:56 AM):
There are plenty of changes to tonight's lineup for the Oilers. Ales Hemsky
returns to the lineup along with Sheldon Souray
. Sam Gagner
is also playing after being a healthy scratch Wednesday and missing Thursday's game with the flu. The healthy scratch is Robert Nilsson while Geoff Sanderson has the flu and will sit this one out... Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal tonight for Edmonton for the third straight game.
OILERS TO WATCH:
After taking part in three fights through his first 20 games of the season, Zack Stortini
has been dropping the gloves with regularity of late. In his last seven games, Stortini has been in six fights. He also scored his first goal of the season last game in Nashville... The Oilers would welcome the return of Ales Hemsky
to the lineup tonight. He has 17 points and seven goals in 19 home games this season. Only Shawn Horcoff
has more with eight goals and 19 points in 20 games at Rexall Place… Third on the Oilers in home scoring is Dustin Penner
with nine points. Tied for fourth is Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano
and Sam Gagner
with eight points each... After being a healthy scratch on Wednesday then missing Thursday's game with the flu, Gagner will be re-inserted into the lineup tonight. His father, Dave Gagner was originally drafted by the Rangers in 1983 and played 80 games with the club over parts of three seasons.
RANGERS TO WATCH:
A player that will make an impact one way or another tonight is Sean Avery. He has only 12 points in 19 games this season but he has 68 penalty minutes. Since returning from injury he has three points (all assists) in five games… Since the 2005-06 season, Jaromir Jagr and Marek Malik have both ranked among the league leaders in plus/minus – Jagr at +61 and Malik at +60. Jagr has struggled somewhat this season with only 11 goals and 36 assists through his first 40 games. Two seasons ago he had 54 goals and 123 points and last year he had 30 goals and 96 points… Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been solid between the pipes once again for the Rangers, carrying the bulk of the workload with a 2.28 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 35 games… Brendan Shanahan is quietly leading the Rangers this season with 15 goals midway through the season. He’s on pace for his 13th 30+ goal season.
Edmonton – Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is probable. Ales Hemsky
(knee) is probable. Geoff Sanderson (flu) is doubtful. Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; New York – Brendan Shanahan (neck) is questionable.
- Comments from Moreau, Hemsky, Stortini & MacTavish. 700K
- Souray touches on various subjects including his shoulder injury. 700K
Souray & Hemsky back; Garon starting - Sheldon Souray
is back tonight but the shoulder injury is something he's going to have to manage throughout the season. Also, Ales Hemsky
is returning, Mathieu Garon is starting and Matt Greene is getting closer. ...more
The Other Side
- Tonight's Game Preview from newyorkrangers.com - The Rangers conclude their three-game swing through Western Canada tonight, when they face the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. The Blueshirts will look to pick up two points against a struggling Oilers team that has had trouble winning at home. ...more
- Rangers prospects go for WJC medals - Four Rangers prospects will go after hardware in the gold- and bronze-medal games at the World Junior Championship on Saturday. First-rounders Alexei Cherepanov (left) of Russia and Bobby Sanguinetti of Team USA will face off for bronze. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Getting to know your captain - Edmonton Oilers captain Ethan Moreau returned to action last week after a lengthy absence due to injury. Prior to him returning, we asked several of his long time teammates some questions to see how well they knew their captain. ...more
- A Day with Dustin - We take a look at what a typical gameday is like with Oilers winger Dustin Penner in this Molson Canadian Oilers Pay Per View feature. Follow the link to view the feature. ...more
From the Wire
A trip through western Canada and the absence of Brendan Shanahan have the New York Rangers stumbling again.
They hope to get their top goal scorer back Saturday when they visit the struggling Edmonton Oilers for the first time in just over six years.
The Rangers (20-17-4) opened this three-game trip with a 4-3 loss to Calgary on Wednesday before falling 3-0 to Vancouver the following night, dropping to 0-5-1 against Western Conference teams this season. The two defeats have come after New York finished December on a three-game winning streak to bounce back from a 2-6-2 stretch.
Shanahan missed his first game of the season Thursday with a stiff neck after scoring a goal in each of the previous three contests to give him a team-leading 15. It's uncertain if the 38-year-old left wing, who also leads the Rangers with seven power-play goals, will return Saturday.
"We need him healthy for the long haul," Rangers coach Tom Renney told the team's official Web site.
If Shanahan can't play, Petr Prucha could fill his spot again after returning from a two-game absence due to a bruised wrist Thursday. Prucha has just four goals in 2007-08 after scoring 52 in his first two NHL seasons.
He scored a goal and assisted on another in the last meeting with the Oilers, a 5-4 overtime win for New York at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 12, 2006.
The Rangers have won two of the last three matchups with Edmonton - all at home - and haven't visited Rexall Place since a 4-1 loss on Jan. 2, 2002. New York is 1-2-0 with two ties in its last five trips to Edmonton.
The Rangers are expected to have Henrik Lundqvist back in net after he was rested Thursday in favor of Stephen Valiquette. Lundqvist, though, has struggled of late, allowing four goals on 22 shots against the Flames to give him a 2-3-1 record and a 3.75 goals-against average in his last six games.
During that stretch, Lundqvist is 0-2-1 with a 4.91 GAA in three road games against West teams. He won his only career start against the Oilers, making 26 stops on Jan. 12, 2006.
Edmonton (17-21-4), which has the second-fewest points in the conference, is opening a five-game homestand. The Oilers are looking to rebound from a 5-2 loss at Nashville on Thursday, one night after halting a season-high six-game skid with a 3-2 overtime win at St. Louis.
"We just lacked any composure whatsoever," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said.
The Oilers have dropped five of their last six at home (1-4-1), including three in a row while only managing one goal in each game.
Edmonton's scoring issues could stem from Shawn Horcoff's recent lack of production. The team leader with 16 goals and 35 points, Horcoff has only one assist in the last eight games after registering seven goals and seven assists in the previous 10.
He has an assist in each of the last three games against the Rangers.