Oilers open seven-game road trip in Music City
EDMONTON OILERS (4-3-1) at
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (4-4-1)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MDT (5:45 p.m. PPV)
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Game Notes | Oilers/Predators Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
If, as some hockey pundits believe, road trips foster camaraderie and team cohesion, the Oilers are poised to be one tight unit come mid-November.
The Oilers will say goodbye to Rexall Place until Nov. 13—a total of 16 days and seven games—when they’ll play the Toronto Maple Leafs for a two-game “homestand.”
Edmonton’s first stop on their Eastern U.S. tour will be in Nashville where they’ll take on the Predators following a heartbreaker on Monday versus Boston.
The Oilers were shut out for the second time this season—both times with Dwayne Roloson in net—for a scoring total of four goals in four games.
“It was a disappointing effort at the start,” head coach Craig MacTavish said. “Rollie kept us in it.”
“We’re not creating a lot of offense but we’re still playing like we are,” Captain Ethan Moreau said. “We really have to simplify our game.”
The Predators are tied with Oilers at nine points on the season but the important difference in tonight’s game may be the special teams. Nashville is near the bottom of the league in special teams as they are ranked 21st on the powerplay and 25th on the penalty kill. Edmonton is 11th on the powerplay but sits last in the league on the penalty kill.
Just The Facts...
Mathieu Garon is starting in goal tonight for the Oilers. Jason Strudwick
is expected to miss another game due to injury.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Lubomir Visnovsky has 17 points in 23 games played versus Nashville and is looking to break out of a five-game pointless streak after a hot start to the season. Ethan Moreau has 10 goals versus the Preds in 32 games and may lead the physical charge the Oilers need.
PREDATORS TO WATCH:
Edmonton’s first round choice in 1993, Jason Arnott, has 20 points in 22 games played against his former team and eight points in his last five games... Goalie Dan Ellis is 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .936 save percentage versus Edmonton... Three Predators – Arnott, J.P. Dumont and Martin Erat – registered three goals and three assists in four games last season in the series, with Erat notching his first career hat trick, and just the second road hat trick in franchise history, on March 4, 2008. Five other Preds, four of which are still on the roster (Vernon Fiddler, Ville Koistinen, David Legwand and Scott Nichol), also averaged a point per game against the Oilers in 2007-08 with a goal and three assists each.
Edmonton – Jason Strudwick
(shoulder) is questionable; Nashville – Jed Ortmeyer (blod clot) is out. Steve Sullivan (back) is out.
All-time Nashville is 19-13-5 against Edmonton since joining the League in 1998-99 including eight in a row... After scoring just 30 goals in 82 games in 2007-08, Nashville's blueline leads the league so far this season in goals by defencemen with eight. The defencemen have 24 points on 31 Nashville markers this season...
MacIntyre rewarded for his perseverence
- Steve MacIntyre
gave up hockey after the birth of his son, but still found a way to reach the NHL with the Oilers. ...more
The Other Side
- Mr. Jones goes to Washington - Ryan Jones discusses the team's trip to Washington, D.C. in his latest blog entry, including the team bus tour of the monuments. Photo Gallery | ...more
- Milwaukee Admirals Update - With his first period goal Friday night against Peoria, Antti Pihlstrom extended his goal scoring streak to four games. Pihlstrom has five goals on the season, which ties him for seventh in the AHL. ...more
Odds and Ends
- Download your November Wallpaper today! - The 2008-09 season is now well underway with a new month right around the corner and with it, a new wallpaper. Follow the link to download one of THREE different versions of your Oilers November calendar wallpaper. ...more
- Game Day in the Press Box- The Bill Tuele Press Box in Rexall Place is a busy place during every Oilers home game, but preparation for puck drop starts the night before and includes everything from writing statistics to stocking the ice cream reserves. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Edmonton Oilers' fast start has been all but completely erased by a four-game losing streak. Opening a grueling seven-game road trip against the Nashville Predators - a team they haven't beaten in nearly three years - won't offer any easy solutions, either.
The struggling Oilers hope to rediscover their scoring touch and end a five-game skid in Nashville on Thursday night at Sommet Center.
Starting a season with four consecutive wins for the first time in 23 years was a very good sign for the Oilers, who hope to return to the playoffs after a two-year absence. The scoring, however, has disappeared lately with Edmonton (4-3-1) getting shut out twice and totaling only four goals during its current 0-3-1 stretch.
A brilliant 35-save performance from Dwayne Roloson wasn't enough on Monday as Boston beat the Oilers 1-0 in overtime.
"It's always hard to take a loss," Roloson said. "It doesn't matter if that goal comes in overtime or on the first shift or the last shift of the game. It's always hard to lose a game. The parameters don't change. It's still frustrating."
All four of Edmonton's wins have been by one goal, a fact not lost on coach Craig MacTavish.
"We haven't, as a team, been able to dominate anybody. It's time for us to realize that," he said. "It was hidden in the record but that is over."
Thursday's game starts a trip that has the Oilers playing seven games in 12 days, capped by a contest against the New York Rangers on Nov. 10.
If overcoming a dormant offense doesn't present enough of a challenge, Edmonton also will be trying to end an eight-game losing streak against the Predators (4-4-1). The Oilers haven't beaten Nashville since March 5, 2006.
Ales Hemsky is the Oilers' leader with six points, but has yet to score a goal while offseason acquisition Erik Cole has no goals in his last five contests and only one this season.
MacTavish has a decision to make on his starting goaltender for Thursday. Mathieu Garon allowed six goals in his first three starts before giving up 10 in his last two games. Roloson, meanwhile, has stopped 66 of 70 shots in his two appearances.
Neither has had much success against Nashville (4-4-0). Roloson is 2-5-0 with one tie and a 2.64 goals-against average while Garon is 2-5-0 with a 4.20 GAA.
The Predators came to life after a slow start and salvaged a point from Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss at Washington. Jason Arnott scored twice and J.P. Dumont had three assists for Nashville, which was outshot 19-4 in the first period.
"Obviously we want to get the win," coach Barry Trotz said. "But we'll take the point after the start we had."
Scoring hasn't been a problem for the Predators, whose 32 goals are among the league's highest totals. While Nashville has scored at least three goals in eight straight games, it has also allowed at least three in the past six contests.
Dan Ellis has had a rough start to the season, going 4-4-1 with a 3.28 GAA, but is 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA in four career starts against the Oilers.
Arnott and Dumont have both been very productive versus Edmonton. Arnott has four goals and three assists in the last five games against his former team while Dumont has four goals and five assists in that span.