Preview: Oilers vs. Blackhawks
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (27-13-8) at
EDMONTON OILERS (25-21-3)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST (PPV starts at 6:45)
Television: Molson Canadian Oilers Pay Per View (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes
LINEUP UPDATES: Robert Nilsson joins Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky on the top line, while Dustin Penner slips down to fourth with Zack Stortini and Kyle Brodziak... Andrew Cogliano centers Pouliot-Moreau line and Ryan Potulny stays on the second line with Gagner and Cole... Roloson starts in net despite not participating in the morning skate.
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Edmonton Oilers close out a six-game homestand tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, while the 'Hawks continue their longest road trip of the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in fourth place in the Western Conference after a month of ups and downs with a record of 5-4-1 in their last ten games. In December the team was on a tear winning 10 of their 12 games but they had only won two of six in late January before prevailing 4-2 in their last outing over the San Jose Sharks.
Edmonton sits in a tie for sixth place with five teams as the tight squeeze that is the Western Conference playoff race continues. The Oilers are 6-3-0 in their last nine games following a 2-1 setback to the Nashville Predators on Sunday afternoon.
This is the third of four meetings this season between Edmonton and Chicago. The Blackhawks have won the prior two meetings by a combined score of 12-2 - including a 9-2 drubbing here at Rexall Place in mid-December. The Oilers will be looking for some payback from that game.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Sam Gagner
is expected to make his return to the Oilers lineup tonight after missing a pair of games due to an ankle injury. In both games this weekend Ales Hemsky
and Lubomir Visnovsky collected points. Hemsky is the team’s offensive leader with 16-27-43 and a solid +6 ranking. He has eight points in his last five games and played an impressive 23:17 in Sunday’s game. Visnovsky has 8-23-31 and has been instrumental in many of the team’s goals as of late with five points in his last five games. He is tied for 12th place among NHL defencemen in points. The Oilers 21 year old centre, Andrew Cogliano
picked up two assists on Friday night’s game versus Minnesota. He’s at 12-15-27 for the season and has five points in his last five games. Another young player, Robert Nilsson has put some important numbers on the board lately. After coming back from injury, Nilsson collected four points in his last three games and has 7-10-17 for the season. Shawn Horcoff
has been consistent this season and has four points in his last six games. He’s has the second most points among Oilers at 11-22-33. Dwayne Roloson had a solid weekend blocking 59 shots and only allowing three goals. On Friday night’s game his save percentage was an impressive .967. For the second consecutive month Roloson received the Molson Cup. He has played in 32 games this season, has 2.74 goals against average and 16 wins to his credit.
BLACKHAWKS TO WATCH:
Chicago goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
is 8-2-0 with a 2.52 GAA in 11 starts away from Chicago since November 18.He's played well against the Oilers the past several seasons with a record of 5-1-1 with a 1.42 GAA in seven starts versus the Oilers since the start of the 2006-07 season... The team’s offensive leaders are the young duo of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who are sitting at 17-27- 44 and 16-23-39, respectively. Kane is playing his second NHL season, both of which have been with the Blackhawks. He was named to the 2009 All-Star starting line-up and has collected two points in his last three games. Toews is the team Captain and was also named to the 2009 All-Star starting line-up. He’s had an impressive week with three points in three games, two of which were the game winning goals. Toews is no stranger to collecting the game winning goal with five to his credit this season. Another player who’s been pivotal to Chicago’s wins is Patrick Sharp who has four game winning goals this season. Having played in every game this season he’s at 22-15-37 and has two points in the last three games. Brian Campbell is the team’s leading blueliner with 7-27-37. In his last three games he’s posted four points and is in fifth place across the league among defencemen for assists. Another D-man who’s posted really strong numbers as of late is Duncan Keith who has six points in his last five games and has an exceptionally high +26.
Edmonton— Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out.. Sam Gagner
(ankle) is probable Chicago—Brent Sopel is out.
Steve Staios leads the Oilers and is tied for 14th place in the NHL with 98 blocked shots. ... Shawn Horcoff
has won 53.0% of his face-offs (573-1082) this season to rank 30th in the NHL in face-off winning percentage. He leads the NHL with his 1082 face-offs and is 2nd in face-offs won with 573. Gilbert's 22 assists are a single-season career-high, surpassing his previous high of 20 assists scored with the Oilers in 2007-08. Edmonton's all-time record against Chicago is 45-46-12. Goals for and against is also nearly a saw-off with Edmonton scoring 366 and allowing 365... This game is the last of a six-game homestand for the Oilers. split by the all-star break The last two months saw the Oilers at home eight of 13 games in December and nine of 12 in January. In February the team will be traveling more as only half of the team’s 14 games this month will be played at home including four in the last week of February. The Oilers are over .500 at home and on the road with a record of 12-10-3 at Rexall Place and 13- 11-0 when playing away from Oil Country.
Bid on Cole, Nilsson and Smid's favourite things tonight
- An autographed Alexander Ovechkin jersey, pre-loaded iPod Shuffle, and hundreds of dollars in restaurant and clothing gift cards are included in the three gift packages you can bid on in Tuesday night's Oilers Favourite Things auction. ...more
The Other Side - news from chicagoblackhawks.com
- Comcast Sportsnet Sports Awards - Patrick Kane will accept the “Blackhawk of the Year” award and Bobby Hull will receive a “Lifetime Achievement” honor at the 21st Annual Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards to benefit the March of Dimes on February 9. ...more
- Hawks upend Sharks in San Jose - Kris Versteeg returned to the lineup and notched a goal and an assist, while Jonathan Toews tallied twice as the Hawks handed the Sharks just their second regulation home loss, 4-2, Saturday. Photos | Versteeg | Toews | Quenneville | ...more
Odds and Ends
- 5 Questions with Steve MacIntyre - Steve MacIntyre is one of the toughest Oilers on the ice, but how does he react to tough questions off the ice? We drilled him with five frequently-asked fan questions on topics like pre-game meals and roommate habits. ...more
- MacTavish comments on Penner - Follow the link for comments by Oilers Head Coach Craig MacTavish on Dustin Penner following Sunday's game vs. Nashville, including Penner's reaction. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Chicago Blackhawks had not been playing their best hockey, but a win over the Western Conference's top team their last time out has restored their confidence.
The Blackhawks hope to carry some momentum from that victory into February when they continue their eight-game road trip Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers.
Chicago (27-13-8) owns the fourth-best record in the West, but the last few weeks have been a struggle. After posting the league's second-best December record at 10-1-1, the Blackhawks went 7-6-1 in January. They had trouble generating offense, scoring 38 goals in the month after tallying 48 in December.
Chicago wrapped up January in exceptional fashion, though, defeating San Jose 4-2 on Saturday. The Blackhawks, who hadn't beaten the Sharks in the previous 13 meetings, handed San Jose just its second regulation home loss since last February.
"We can be happy about this win and celebrate it the next few days," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after scoring twice. "We played a solid game from start to finish and now it's time to take our game to another level."
Chicago, coming off a 5-2 defeat at Los Angeles on Thursday night, played crisp, sharp hockey from the drop of the puck.
"It was a huge game for us," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose team is 2-1-0 on its longest trip of the season. "We played with a lot of enthusiasm, we were on the puck and had good speed. All aspects of our game was rock solid."
Chicago also excelled in all aspects of the game in its last meeting with Edmonton (25-21-3).
The Blackhawks defeated the Oilers 9-2 on Dec. 16 at Rexall Place. Seven Chicago players scored, and Troy Brouwer led the way with two goals and an assist.
The seven-goal margin of defeat tied an Edmonton franchise record for home games, which was broken in last Tuesday's 10-2 loss to Buffalo.
The Oilers, one of five teams with 53 points that are in the mix for the final four Western Conference playoff spots, have been in a bit of a funk lately. They've scored six goals in losing two of three games since the All-Star break after tallying 13 goals in winning their previous three contests.
Edmonton fell 2-1 to Nashville on Sunday, with Ales Hemsky scoring his team-leading 16th goal to provide the Oilers with their only offense. Hemsky has six goals in his last five games.
"We really have to work on being more consistent," defenseman Tom Gilbert said. "We don't want to fall back into the habit of winning one, losing one. Going back and forth when you are trying to catch teams for a playoff run. We have to get back on the same page again."
Dwayne Roloson made 27 saves Sunday, and has stopped 56 of 59 shots in his last two games. He allowed three goals on eight shots in the first 10:17 before being pulled in the loss to the Sabres.
Roloson is 0-1-0 with a 4.80 goals-against average in the two games against Chicago this season.
The Blackhawks' Nikolai Khabibulin made 33 saves Saturday for his second straight win on the road trip. He's 8-2-0 with a 2.52 GAA in 11 starts away from Chicago since Nov. 18.
Khabibulin stopped 31 shots in the victory at Edmonton in December, and made 23 saves in the Blackhawks' 3-0 win over the Oilers on Oct. 22 - his only shutout of the season. He's 5-1-1 with a 1.42 GAA in seven starts versus Edmonton since the start of the 2006-07 season.