Preview: Oilers vs. Blues
ST. LOUIS BLUES (16-21-3) at
EDMONTON OILERS (19-18-3)
Start Time: 6:08 p.m. MST
Television: TSN (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Blues Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINEUP UPDATES: Robert Nilsson will not play tonight. Ryan Potulny will make his Oilers debut, assuming he can get in from Springfield in time... Dwayne Roloson starts in goal.
|Brad Boyes #22 of the St. Louis Blues defends against Ethan Moreau #18 of the Edmonton Oilers on January 2, 2008 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The 2008-09 NHL season is on the verge of the halfway mark for the Edmonton Oilers and so far, nothing has come easy. It’s been a case of two struggling steps forward and two quick steps back and it doesn’t look like wins will get any easier in the near future.
To add to the current loss of top scorer Ales Hemsky
for an indeterminate period of time and the revolving door of AHL players to make an appearance in Oiler copper and blue this season, the Oilers can add Zack Stortini
to the injury list. San Gagner and Sheldon Souray
have also had minor injuries that have been characterized as being dealt with in a “precautionary” manner.
Tonight, Edmonton (19-18-3) will face the St. Louis Blues (16-21-3) for the chance to enter the second half of the season on a winning note.
The Oilers and Blues come into tonight’s game going in opposite directions—Edmonton on a two-game losing streak and St. Louis a two-game winning streak.
The Blues did the Oilers a favour when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-4 on Friday night but they’ve struggled overall. St. Louis has lost nine of their last 14 games and sits in last place in the Western Conference with 35 points.
Edmonton last faced St. Louis on Nov. 29 when Edmonton won 4-2.
Edmonton will play two divisional rivals—Minnesota and Colorado—on their three-game road swing that starts in Washington on Jan. 13.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Andrew Cogliano
is on four-game point-scoring streak (2-2-4) which ties his career high. The sophomore selectee for the NHL Youngstars Game has scored 12-10-22 in 40 games this season...If the Oilers are to let their work ethic lead the way, it’ll be Erik Cole drawing penalties and crashing the net. He was scoreless against the Sharks on Friday but has four points in his last five games.
BLUES TO WATCH:
Brad Boyes leads the Blues with 19 goals and 25 points. He’s got three goals in his last five games and has scored 7-5-12 in nine games vs. the Oilers...Keith Tkachuk is quietly still getting it done scoring 14-15-29 on the season—his 15th. Tkachuk has 25 goals and 26 assists for 51 points in 56 games vs. Edmonton.
(strained knee) is out; Robert Nilsson is questionable; Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is probable; Sam Gagner
(ankle) is probable; Ales Hemsky
(mild concussion) is out; Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. St. Louis—Paul Kariya (hip) is out; Eric Brewer (herniated disc) is out; Andy McDonald (fractured leg) is out; Jay McKee (broken finger) is out: D.J. King (shoulder) is out.
Mathieu Garon needs one game for his 200th NHL game...Edmonton is 11-0-1 when leading after two periods...St. Louis is seventh in the league on the powerplay...All four games between Edmonton and St. Louis last season were decided by one goal with three of four going to overtime and one game needing a shootout. Edmonton won the season series 3-1... Edmonton is 45-42-11-3 in 101 games versus St. Louis since 1979-80 and the Oilers are 25-19-4-2 at home and 20-23-7-1 on the road.
Ryan Potulny recalled from Springfield; Zack Stortini placed on NHL Injured Reserve
- General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have placed forward Zack Stortini
on the NHL Injured Reserve List and recalled centre Ryan Potulny from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more
The Other Side
- Blues head to Edmonton - The Blues road trip continues when they travel to Rexall Place in Edmonton for a Sunday night meeting with the Oilers. The puck drops at 7 p.m. Fans can watch the game on KPLR 11 or KMOX 1120 AM. ...more
- Tkachuk selected for 2009 NHL All-Star Game - The complete Western Conference All-Star roster has been unveiled and Keith Tkachuk will represent the Blues on Jan. 25 in Montreal. The game marks Tkachuk's fifth career All-Star appearance. Bio | Stats | Video Highlights | ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Nine Days of Glenn Anderson: Day 1 - Leading up to the retirement of Glenn Anderson's jersey on Sunday, January 18 we will be rolling out features on the Oilers great daily. We start with one of his nine greatest Oilers memories. ...more
- The Link: Billy Moores and Rod Phillips - In this edition of The Link, we quiz Craig MacTavish, Charlie Huddy and Brian Ross on Oilers assistant coach Billy Moores and also look back on the career of Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Rod Phillips. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
Just when it seemed like the Edmonton Oilers were establishing some consistency, they've taken another step back.
The Oilers seek to avoid a three-game losing streak as they conclude a five-game homestand Sunday night against a St. Louis Blues team looking for its season high-tying third straight victory.
Edmonton (19-18-3) was feeling confident during a three-game winning streak from Dec. 22-28, but the Oilers have since gone 2-4-0. They opened January by winning the first two contests of their current stretch at Rexall Place, but lost 4-2 Wednesday to Vancouver before falling 4-1 to Western Conference-leading San Jose on Friday night.
"I thought we were making progress up until a couple games ago," coach Craig MacTavish said. "There is no end to the criticism you could direct at your team after a game like that."
The Oilers' frustrations led the players to hold a closed-door meeting after Friday's game.
"We have to be able to find a way to prepare and come out and play with emotion every night," defenseman Steve Staios said. "That's been lacking in this room. Whether we win or lose we have to do it in the fashion we are used to and that hasn't been happening for a while here."
A matchup with the Blues (16-21-3), who own the worst record in the West, might be able to help the Oilers regroup. They have won the last four meetings, most recently 4-2 in St. Louis on Nov. 29.
It's unclear, though, if Edmonton will have Sheldon Souray available Sunday. The All-Star defenseman, tied for the team lead with 12 goals and tied for second with 29 points, exited Friday's game in the second period because of an upper-body injury.
St. Louis' lineup has been hampered by injuries all season. The Blues have six players on injured reserve, including winger Paul Kariya, who underwent surgery on his left hip Monday and could miss the remainder of 2008-09.
Those setbacks have likely contributed to the Blues' position in the standings, but they've found success lately.
Five days after defeating Central Division rival Columbus 5-2 at home, they opened a three-game trip through western Canada with Friday night's 6-4 victory over Vancouver to end a seven-game road skid.
St. Louis relinquished the lead twice in the third period, but earned back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 6-8.
"A lot of times this year we haven't answered the bell and gone away and let teams trounce us so it's a sign of guys learning and the character of this team developing," said David Backes, who had a goal and an assist. "We need that every night to climb the standings."
St. Louis seeks its first three-game winning streak since Nov. 21-25. It's 6-3-1 in its last 10 visits to Edmonton, falling 4-3 in overtime on March 11 in its last game there.
Brad Boyes, who scored his team-leading 19th goal on Friday and tops St. Louis with 35 points, has seven goals and five assists in nine career games against the Oilers. All-Star left wing Keith Tkachuk, second on the Blues with 14 goals and 29 points, had two assists versus Vancouver and has 25 goals and 51 points in 56 contests against Edmonton.