Preview: Ducks at Oilers
ANAHEIM DUCKS (38-32-6) at
EDMONTON OILERS (36-31-9)
Start Time: 7:38 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Ducks Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 27: Dustin Penner #27 of the Edmonton Oilers scores a goal in the second period against goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere #35 of the Anaheim Ducks during the NHL game at Honda Center on March 27, 2009 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Oilers Twitter Lineup Updates:
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The playoffs start now for the Edmonton Oilers.
Two points back of the final playoff spot, the 10th-place Oilers absolutely need a win tonight against the 9th-place Anaheim Ducks simply to keep pace in the Western Conference.
The St. Louis Blues are not playing tonight so a victory would at the very least temporarily move Edmonton into a tie for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.
Edmonton has dropped four of its last five games, including a difficult 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Rexall Place on Sunday night.
Anaheim, meanwhile, has played some of their best hockey of the season. They had five straight wins going into last Friday's tilt with the Oilers. Edmonton had lost three straight going into that same contest. However, it was the Oilers who gutted out a 5-3 win with Dwayne Roloson stopping 51 of 54 shots.
Anaheim rebounded to better Colorado on Sunday 4-1.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between the Oilers and Ducks. Edmonton has won twice while Anaheim has won once. The lone Ducks victory was here at Rexall Place.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
At this point in the season every goal, every helper, every blocked shot and save contributes to the collection of precious points down the stretch. Alternate Captain Ales Hemsky
is often the go-to goal scorer for the Oilers. Recently surpassing the 60 point mark for the second consecutive season, Hemsky has six points in his last four games. Hemsky’s fellow Czech countryman Alex Kotalik has played well for the Oilers since being acquired from Buffalo on the trade deadline. Kotalik has 18-22- 40 this season and has four goals in as many games. Centremen Sam Gagner
has two points in his last five games. Gagner, who started the season off slowly, has now picked up the momentum with 14-22-36. Rearguard Denis Grebeshkov boasts the team’s highest plus/minus ranking thus far with +8. Also a solid offensive player, Grebeshkov has 5-29-34 this season with two points in his last four games. Grebeshkov has received praise as of late from his coaches on his overall game improvement this season and has earned a regular spot on the team’s powerplay. The team’s last line of defence, goalie Dwayne Roloson has been exceptional having played 32 consecutive games. Roloson sports a .915 save percentage this season, an improvement over his last season’s .901.
DUCKS TO WATCH:
The Ducks have put forth a valiant effort in recent weeks to tie down a Playoff spot in the very tight Western Conference. Leading those efforts is the team’s offensive frontrunner, Ryan Getzlaf. With seven points in his last five games, Getzlaf has 26-56-81 this season and is eighth in the league for assists. Right winger Corey Perry has an impressive record in the last week including two game winning goals. Perry is having an excellent season with 28-37-65 and a competitive +7. Veteran Teemu Selanne is showing his experience and skill this season with 23-23-46. Selanne has five goals including one game winner in his last seven games. Twentytwo year old Bobby Ryan has played two consecutive multi-point games this week and also scored a game winning goal. Ryan has 26-24-50 this season and an excellent +14. Perennial superstar and NHL veteran Scott Neidermayer, is leading blueliners on his team with 12 goals, 37 assists and 49 points. Neidermayer has picked up three goals in his last five games.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (shoulder) is out. Ladislav Smid
(hand) is out. Anaheim—Brad Larsen (Sports hernia/Hip surgery) is out. Francois Beauchemin (Torn left ACL) is out. Bret Hedican (Back spasms) is questionable.
Anaheim is 24-1-0 when leading after two periods this season... The Ducks are the second most penalized team in the NHL, averaging 17.1 penalty minutes per game... Edmonton is the fifth-most penalized team at 15.5...The good news for the Oilers is that they have five of their final six games of the season on home ice at Rexall Place while the team they're chasing - the St. Louis Blues - are exactly the opposite. The Blues have five of six on the road. The bad news for the Oilers is that they only have 16 wins at home this season (16-14-6). That number is the lowest in the Western Conference, tied with Los Angeles. The Oilers have 20 wins away from home which is second only to Detroit, who has 23. Anaheim is also a very good road team with a record of 19-15-3 this season... The Ducks have been moving up the standings having earned 14 points in their last ten games after a difficult February which saw the team collect only 10 points. The Oilers and Ducks are neck-in-neck battling for the final Playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Oilers hope fans become the 7th man
- Every game is becoming more crucial as the Oilers race down the stretch for the final playoff spot in the West. Several Oilers players took the time to address the fans asking for support and a playoff atmosphere from here on out. ...more
The Other Side - news from anaheimducks.com
- Ducks at Oilers - Anaheim will be looking for revenge and two more critical points toward their playoff push when they take on the Oilers tonight at Rexall Place. Join other Ducks fans at the Official Watch Party at Zito's Pizza in Anaheim. ...more
- Road to Glory? - The Ducks embark on a crucial three game road trip to Edmonton, Vancouver and San Jose that could make or break their playoff hopes. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- The LINK: Oilers fan playoff memories - In this edition of The Link, Oilers players ask for fans to put on their playoff faces tonight and Oilers fans talk about some of their favourite memories of years past. ...more
- Playoff Race Update: Oilers 2 points out -Updated March 29 at 9:18 p.m. MDT. After their loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Oilers now sit in 10th place in the Western Conference. They are two points behind St. Louis for the eighth and final playoff spot. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Anaheim Ducks have started to look like a playoff team over the past two weeks, and a home loss to the Edmonton Oilers was the only sour note in that stretch.
The Ducks can't afford to falter against the Oilers again.
One point out of the Western Conference's eighth playoff spot, Anaheim will look to avenge its only loss in its past seven games Tuesday night in Edmonton, where the Oilers can leapfrog the Ducks with a regulation win.
Anaheim (38-32-6) looked to be fading from the playoff race in the middle of this month after dropping four of five to fall into 12th place, five points out of the West's eighth slot.
But the Ducks, knowing they needed an impressive finish to qualify for a fourth consecutive postseason, have played some of their best hockey all season. They've won six of seven, including a 4-1 victory over visiting Colorado on Sunday that pulled them within a point of eighth-place St. Louis
"We know every two points is incredibly valuable," rookie Bobby Ryan said scoring two goals. "Look around; other teams are winning as well, so it's important for us to control our own fate and put another run together like we did last week."
There are six teams in the West separated by six total points for the final three playoff spots.
Anaheim earned two points against the Avalanche, but on Friday gave two away against the Oilers (36-31-9). The Ducks threw a season-high 54 shots at Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson, but the veteran goaltender was up to the task, stopping 51 to help his team win 5-3 while counterpart Jean-Sebastien Giguere was pulled.
"Everybody in the room realized we dropped one on Friday that we felt like we should have had and we lost two valuable points," Ryan said after the win over Colorado. "We had a day off to address it, and we knew coming into this one that we had to get off to a good start and come away with two before we go on the road for a couple of tough games."
Edmonton had dropped three in a row prior to the critical win at Anaheim, but reverted back to its losing ways on Sunday against another playoff hopeful. Minnesota scored two first-period goals and pulled within one point of the Oilers with a 3-2 victory.
"We played poorly and got what we deserved," coach Craig MacTavish said. "Too many guys are too content to be a non-factor rather than be a factor and step up and be assertive in a game that you desperately need. With six games left we are still looking for a team that will take charge of an opportunity."
Roloson, who's started Edmonton's past 32 games, allowed three goals on 21 shots Sunday after stealing a win from the Ducks on Friday.
"It's pretty much my fault isn't it?" said Roloson, who has allowed three goals apiece in his last five starts. "Two bad goals. You don't let those two bad goals in and you win the game. I have to do my job and stop the puck. If I did that tonight than we would have won, case closed."
Roloson may find another game against the Ducks the perfect opportunity to bounce back. He was excellent in his other start against Anaheim at home on Dec. 19 - making 34 saves - but the Oilers lost 3-2 in a shootout.
Jonas Hiller, expected to start Tuesday, stopped 51 shots in that win, and he's been outstanding lately for Anaheim. The second-year netminder is 4-1-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average since March 15.