Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Oilers This Week

This is a new idea I’m trying out for the ol’ blog where we’ll take a look at the week ahead for the Edmonton Oilers.

Who they’re playing, what the games mean, who’s hot, what’s happening with the team – in theory, you’ll find it all here every Monday, or at least some of it.

So, here we go:

The Edmonton Oilers finished October with a 7-6-1 record, despite a stretch that saw them go 6-1-1 in games two through eight. They didn’t finish strong though, losing four of their last five games, including three shutout losses. It seems to be feast or famine right for the Oil in terms of goal scoring – in that one win, they blew a 5-1 lead but beat the Red Wings 6-5 in a shootout.

This week:

The Oilers have just three games in the coming week and play six of the next seven games on the road (seven of eight counting Saturday’s loss in Boston). For some reason, the Oil play the Islanders in New York, the Rangers in Edmonton and then they embark on a five game road trip starting with the Avalanche on Sunday.

Oilers @ NY Islanders
Monday Nov. 2nd - Pre game: 3:30pm, Puck drop: 5pm; 630 CHED

-It took the NY Islanders until October 21st to earn their first win of the season and four more games to notch win number two, but they’ve since won three straight. All three wins were over quality opponents too, the Rangers (19pts), the Capitals (20pts) and the Sabres (17pts). Jeff Tambellini, son of Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, is coming off a hat-trick performance in a shutout of the Sabres, and some of their other younger players, like Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares, are starting to find their groove.

NY Rangers @ Oilers
Thursday Nov. 5th - Pre game: 5pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-After a 7-1-0 start to the season, the NY Rangers have cooled off significantly, losing five of their last six games (1-4-1) in October before a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins to start the new month. Marian Gaborik missed a couple of games with a “lower body” injury, but returned to score the lone goal on Sunday and now has seven points in his last four games (5g, 2a). Other players to watch for the Rangers are Vinny Prospal, who is benefiting from playing alongside Gaborik (4g, 13a), former Oiler Ales Kotalik (12pts) and rookie blue liner Michael Del Zotto, who leads all rookies with 12 points.

Oilers @ Avalanche
Sunday Nov. 8th - Pre game: 4:30pm, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-The Colorado Avalanche have been easily the biggest surprise of the season so far across the entire league, losing in regulation just twice in October. In fact, after one month, they’re one of only three teams with at least 10 wins (the others being San Jose and Pittsburgh). The Avs offence is led by youngsters Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski (13 points each), with Milan Hejduk and 18-year-old rookie Ryan O’Reilly right behind them with 11 points. In their last meeting, the Avs shutout the Oilers 3-0, a second straight game where the Oil failed to register a goal and a third straight loss against their division.

Who’s hot:

Dustin Penner – The Oilers have had their chances, despite being shutout in three of their last four games, and leading that charge is Mr. Penner. Against Detroit, Penner had four points, his sixth multi-point game and second with at least four points. He currently leads the team in scoring with 19 points in 14 games.

Ales Hemsky – Again, the offence has struggled in the past few games, but when they get rolling, there’s a good chance Hemmer is a part of it. He had three points against the Red Wings and is second behind Penner in team scoring with 15 points. Basically, whatever centre coach Pat Quinn puts between them on the top line will see a boost in their offensive production, whether it’s Shawn Horcoff or Sam Gagner.

Nikolai Khabibulin – His stats might not be the greatest, but the Bulin Wall has kept a lot of games close for the Oilers so far this season. He’s faced the third-most shots of any goalie in the league and has come up with key saves. He’s been very impressive as far as I’m concerned.

What to watch for:

Moustaches. Seven players are growing moustaches in “Movember” to raise awareness for men’s health for Prostate Cancer Canada. I think Zack Stortini is going to look awesome by about Movember 5th.

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