Preview: Oilers vs. Wild
MINNESOTA WILD (24-20-3) at
EDMONTON OILERS (24-20-3)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST (PPV starts at 6:45 p.m.)
Television: Molson Canadian Oilers Pay Per View (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Wild Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINEUP UPDATES: Ryan Potulny will get a chance to show his stuff, centering the second line between Robert Nilsson and Erik Cole... Liam Reddox drops to the fourth line where he will play with Steve MacIntyre and Kyle Brodziak... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in goal.
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The man who was pulled 10 minutes into Monday’s crushing loss to the Buffalo Sabres said it best:
“I think everybody is pretty embarrassed in this locker room,” Dwayne Roloson said. “We’ve got to forget about it...and be ready to go for next game and get a win. Everything’s washed away. Nobody would remember it then.”
Indeed, tonight’s matchup between Edmonton (24-20-3) and Minnesota (24-20-3) is as important a game that the Oilers have played all season.
The Oilers and Wild are tied with 51 points apiece—along with Dallas, Columbus and Vancouver—and are right in the middle of a Western Conference playoff logjam that currently has four points separating eleventh place from fifth place in the conference.
Also, how the Oilers respond after the organization’s worse home loss in their existence may very well set the tone for the next run of home games.
The Oilers will have their work cut out for them as the Wild top the league with the stingiest defence as they’ve allowed only 108 goals allowed this season.
The Wild are coming off a 6-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs but have alternated wins and losses since a 5-1 win over Edmonton on Jan. 15.
Edmonton has two more games at home (vs. Nashville and Chicago) before hitting the road for a three-game set against St. Louis, Detroit and Minnesota.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Ales Hemsky
’s offense is key to Oilers success. He had six points and four goals in his first two games back from a concussion before being kept off the scoresheet against Buffalo on Monday...Ryan Potulny makes his return to the team after playing four games with the Oilers from Jan. 11 to Jan. 16. He had three assists in his first two games...Dwayne Roloson will need to be sharp early to give the Oilers confidence. He’s 5-11-0-2 against his former team.
WILD TO WATCH:
Niklas Backstrom is an astounding 10-0-0 in 12 games vs. Edmonton in which he’s given up only 17 goals and had three shutouts. He allowed only one goal the last time he faced the Oilers...Pierre-Marc Bouchard had two goals and an assist in his last game and had a goal and two assists in the Oilers’ and Wild’s first meeting of the season. He’s scored 10-16-26 in 44 games this season.
(ankle) is doubtful; Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. Minnesota—Marian Gaborik (hip) is out; Kurtis Foster
(fractured leg) is out.
The Wild are 22-16-8 all-time vs. Edmonton, their best record against any opponent... Ales Hemsky
was named the NHL's "Third Star" for the week ending January 25th…Hemsky equalled a career-high with four points (2-2-4) in the Oilers 4-3 win vs Columbus (Jan. 20)… Tom Gilbert
brings a career-high four-game scoring streak into tonight's game vs. Minnesota…He scored 1-5-6 from Jan. 16-27…Gilbert’s 22 assists are a single-season career-high, surpassing his previous high of 20 assists scored with the Oilers in 2007-08…Steve Staios is playing in his 499th career Oilers game tonight…Dustin Penner
leads the Oilers and is tied for 10th in the NHL in game winning goals (5).
Ryan Potulny recalled from Springfield
- General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have recalled centre Ryan Potulny from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. ...more
The Other Side - news from wild.com
- Wild acquires Fritsche - Making a move for a "versatile player who can play center or wing," President and GM Doug Risebrough announced Wednesday that the Wild acquired Dan Fritsche (MORE: Hockey Ops Blog: Fritsche fits | Fritsche video) from the Rangers ...more
- Fit club - As the Wild defensive corps rounded into form, the blue line became crowded enough to facilitate the trade that brings C/LW Dan Fritsche to Minnesota. Ultimately, says Chris Snow in his Jan. 29 blog, the deal sets up as a great fit for both parties ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Edmonton Oilers Coach Connection presented by EnCana - As part of the Celebrate Hockey Segment, the Edmonton Oilers Coach Connection presented by EnCana launched today. ...more
- Bid on the Oilers' Favourite Things! - Ever wonder which band is Marc Pouliot's favourite, or which sweet treats are the first to disappear in the Moreau and Staios households? With the Oilers Favourite Things you can find out and bid on their personalized gift packs at Friday night's game. ...more
- 5 Questions with Shawn Horcoff - Shawn Horcoff is used to facing tough face-off situations, but we recently tested his ability to think quickly by asking him five frequently (or not-so-frequently) asked fan questions on topics like coffee shop orders and breakfast table requests. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom isn't who the Edmonton Oilers probably want to see after the worst home loss in franchise history.
The Oilers look to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat and earn their first win in 13 tries against Backstrom when they host Minnesota on Friday in a matchup of Northwest Division teams with identical records.
Edmonton (24-20-3) entered the All-Star break having won three straight and five of six, but that momentum came to a crashing halt Tuesday with an ugly 10-2 loss to Buffalo.
"It was a debacle of monumental proportions," coach Craig MacTavish said.
Dwayne Roloson allowed three goals on eight shots before he was replaced by rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers midway through the first period. The Sabres had a 4-0 lead before Erik Cole put Edmonton on the board 13:23 into the second period.
The loss surpassed a 9-2 defeat to Chicago last month as the worst home loss in franchise history. The Oilers entered Tuesday having allowed 60 goals in 22 home games this season.
"We didn't think that this could happen to us again," defenseman Steve Staios said. "Especially the way that we were playing of late. Hopefully the experience we have from trying to shake it off last time is the way to do it because we started playing better and got ourselves into a playoff position. You can't sugarcoat how tough a night it was but we have to put this behind us quickly and move on."
Bouncing back won't be easy, however, especially with Backstrom in net. Backstrom made 20 saves in a 5-1 home victory over the Oilers on Jan. 15 and improved to 10-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average and three shutouts in 12 appearance against the Oilers.
Although he didn't get much of a break during All-Star weekend, appearing in Sunday's game, Backstrom didn't show any signs of fatigue in Minnesota's 6-1 win over Toronto on Tuesday, stopping 27 shots to improve to 7-3-0 with a 1.86 GAA in his last 10 starts.
The offensive outburst by one of the NHL's lowest-scoring teams continued their improvement that began before the All-Star break. Minnesota (24-20-3), which came in last in the NHL in even strength goals, averaged 2.4 goals overall in its first 41 games this season but has averaged 3.8 in the last six. The six goals - all even strength - on Tuesday matched a season high.
Minnesota has won four of six.
"That's huge," said Andrew Brunette, who has two goals and six assists in his last six games. "For us, to feel good that we can score some goals and make some plays and gain some confidence before we go to a couple of tough places to play, getting even strength goals is huge."
The Wild made a minor trade Thursday, acquiring forward Dan Fritsche from the New York Rangers for defenseman Erik Reitz. Fritsche had a goal and three assists in 16 games with the Rangers this season.
Edmonton has lost its last two meetings with Minnesota but has won three of the last four at home.