Preview: Oilers vs. Canadiens
MONTREAL CANADIENS (29-19-6) at
EDMONTON OILERS (26-23-4)
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. MST (PPV starts at 7:45 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/Canadiens Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|EDMONTON, AB - Sheldon Souray #44 of the Edmonton Oilers faces his former team tonight, the Montreal Candiens, for the first time. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
LINEUP UPDATE: The top line is reunited tonight with Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky together again... Steve MacIntyre is likely out with the fourth line being Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and Liam Reddox.
by Nick Conrad | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
With over a third of the NHL season still yet to be played, it seems almost too early to lay the fate of the season on each win or loss—almost.
With only three points separating fifth place from eleventh place in the Western Conference, a team’s playoff hopes will surely come down to the final games of the season and every game until then will thus be a virtual must-win.
The Edmonton Oilers (26-23-4) will try to climb the playoff ladder tonight against the Montreal Canadiens (29-19-6) at Rexall Place in a one-game homestand before again hitting the road.
The Canadiens sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference but have been on a horrendous slide. Montreal has lost eight of their last 10 games including six straight road games capped off by a 6-2 drubbing to the Calgary Flames on Monday.
The Oilers have also been playing less than stellar hockey of late going 1-3-1 in their last five games after an 8-4 January.
Tonight's game is Montreal’s first visit to Rexall Place since Dec. 15, 2005, when the Oilers won 5-3. The teams last met on Nov. 7, 2006, when the Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout in Montreal.
The Oilers are 4-1-0 vs. the Canadiens in their last five games at Rexall Place dating back to the 2001-02 season.
Edmonton will next play the LA Kings on Saturday, the first of four games on the road.
Chrome Domes for Charity
and Ethan Moreau will be a little lighter on their skates in tonight’s game. They shaved their heads to help Edmontonians raise over $25,000 for the annual Valentine’s Day Hair Massacure. Proceeds go towards cancer research at the Stollery Children’s Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH: Sheldon Souray
will play his first game against his former team since signing with the Oilers in 2007. He’s got two goals in his last three games...Shawn Horcoff
will be back in the lineup tonight after missing two games with a lower body injury. He leads the team in plus/minus (7) and ATOI among forwards (21:29)...Robert Nilsson enters tonight's game on a three-game scoring streak (0-3-3) having scored assists in each of the three games of the Oilers road trip.
CANADIENS TO WATCH:
Andrei Kostitsyn is tied for the team lead in goals with 18 despite going scoreless in his last three games... All-Star Alex Kovalev is third on the team with 38 points but hasn’t scored a goal in seven games. He’s scored 4-9-13 in 16 games vs. Edmonton...Andrei Markov leads the Canadiens with 41 points.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (dislocated shoulder) is out; Fernando Pisani (ankle) is out. Montreal—Guillame Latendresse (shoulder) is out; Robert Lang (Achilles tendon) is out; Alex Tanguay (shoulder) is out; Mathieu Dandenault (broken arm) is out.
Tonight will be Shawn Horcoff
's 532nd as an Oiler, tying him with Paul Coffey for 16th place on the Oilers all-time list...Since Nov. 15th Roloson has started 30 of 37 games and is 15-11-3 in the starts...He has allowed two-or-fewer goals in 18 of the 30 starts...After going 201 games without a hat trick in regular season play, the Oilers scored two hat tricks in a span of four games (Jan. 13-20)...Ethan Moreau scored his first career NHL hat trick with three goals in the Oilers 6-3 win vs. Phoenix (Jan. 18)...The Oilers captain scored twice in the first period and then completed his hat trick into an empty net with 0.4 seconds remaining on the clock...Erik Cole registered the Oilers’ first hat trick of the season in the 5-2 road win at Washington (Jan. 13)...It was Cole's first hat trick as an Oiler and the fifth of his NHL career.
Daum takes over as Springfield coach
- General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have appointed Rob Daum as head coach of the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, replacing Jeff Truitt for the remainder of the 2008-09 season. ...more
The Other Side - news from canadiens.com
- Hammer's "homecoming" - He may hail all the way from the Czech Republic but Roman Hamrlik is also no stranger to Western Canada. ...more
- My Playlist: Georges Laraque - Georges Laraque never gives less than his all. So, when we asked him for his ultimate music compilation, the Habs' heavyweight put together a list so diverse, it's like nothing you've seen before. Check it out and download his favorite tunes. ...more
- The Habs this week - The Canadiens get a tour of the Northwest this week as they begin a stretch of six straight on the road. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- The LINK: Tom Gilbert 101 & Stortini's Faves - In this episode of The Link, we test four Oilers with Tom Gilbert trivia and get the lowdown on one of the biggest and best Oilers Favourite Things baskets to date, courtesy of Zack Stortini and his fiancee Desiree. ...more
- PHOTOS: Ethan Moreau and Ales Hemsky get their heads shaved for charity - View photos from Tuesday's Valentine's Day Hair Massacure during which Moreau and Hemsky helped raise more than $25,000 for the Stollery Children's Hospital and Make-a-Wish Foundation. Photo Gallery
- Deslauriers, Hemsky and Stortini's Favourite Things - Massages, meals, game-used sticks, and an all-inclusive fishing trip are among the items included in Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, Ales Hemsky, and Zack Stortini's favourite things baskets, which will be up for bid during Wednesday's game. ...more
- 5 Questions with Ethan Moreau - Ever wonder what kind of food fuels Ethan Moreau before a game, or which teammate he would pick as his partner on The Amazing Race? We recently asked him those questions and three others, so follow the link to check out his answers. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
With their longest road trip of the season just getting started, the Montreal Canadiens have to be hoping their longest road losing streak in three years is nearing an end.
The reeling Canadiens will try to snap their six-game road slide on Wednesday when they face the Edmonton Oilers, who are also struggling as they scramble for points in a wild Western Conference race.
Montreal looked like one of the league's best teams when it went 11-2-1 from Dec. 18-Jan. 17, but the Canadiens (29-19-6) have since crumbled, going 2-8-0.
That includes their first six-game road losing streak since a seven-game skid midway through the 2005-06 season. They didn't show any signs of improvement in a 6-2 loss at Calgary on Monday, opening a six-game road trip by getting outshot 41-24 and allowing five unanswered goals in the second and third periods.
"Right now we're not playing with confidence," coach Guy Carbonneau said. "It seems that every time we make a mistake it's in our net. Making plays and making passes is really hard because of the confidence that we don't have."
Carbonneau is hoping a lengthy players-only meeting after Monday's game will help his team turn it around following three straight losses.
The Canadiens have scored two or fewer goals seven times in their last 10 games, and have been outscored 28-12 during their road slide.
Montreal also has had trouble defensively, and All-Star goalie Carey Price has a 3.64 goals-against average in his last eight starts. In his first start in nearly three weeks, backup Jaroslav Halak gave up all six goals against the Flames.
"The first thing is to really try and forget the last two weeks," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves and we know the situation that we're in. We're the only ones that are going to dig ourselves out of that hole."
The Canadiens have dropped to fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the sixth-place New York Rangers and two ahead of seventh-place Buffalo.
Edmonton is just three points out of fifth place in the West, but is also three points away from 13th in the conference's tightly packed postseason chase. The Oilers (26-23-4) have dropped four of five, however, coming off a 3-2 shootout defeat at Minnesota on Sunday following an ugly 8-3 loss at Detroit on Saturday.
"In the Western Conference now, every team is in it," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "We're competitive and we battle hard. We've just been short against the best teams in the league."
If they want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2006, the Oilers likely need to fire up what has been a stagnant offense this month. In five February games, they've scored just eight goals, with three of those coming after they already trailed the Red Wings by six in the third period.
It likely won't help playing without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who ranks fourth on the team with 31 points. Visnovsky is slated for season-ending shoulder surgery after an injury last week.
Edmonton is also missing forward Shawn Horcoff due to a lower-body injury. Horcoff has 33 points.
This will be the first game against his former team for Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray, who spent five full seasons in Montreal and scored 64 points in 2006-07 before leaving as a free agent. Souray has 34 points in 52 games after missing much of last season to injury.