Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week: 

After a big win over the Colorado Avalanche last Sunday, it looked like it might be a successful road trip for the Edmonton Oilers. However, a shootout loss in Ottawa followed by losses in Buffalo and Atlanta drop them to 1-2-1 through four games and 8-10-2 overall – two points out of last in the Northwest Division.

The Oil have now lost eight of their ten road games this season, racking up just five of a possible 20 points, and bizarrely, they’re 0-3-1 when out-shooting their opponents.

This week:

Edmonton wraps up a five-game road trip in Columbus tonight, before playing five straight at home – starting with the Northwest Division leading Avalanche and the Central Division leading Blackhawks.

The Oilers are 3-1 against the Central Division so far this season, and two players in particular – Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky – have had a lot of offensive success in those games. Penner has 13 points and Hemsky has 10.

Oilers @ Blue Jackets
Monday Nov. 16th – Pre game: 3:30pm, Puck drop: 5pm; 630 CHED

-The Columbus Blue Jackets wrap up a four-game homestand against the Oilers tonight – they were humbled 9-1 in front of their own fans by the Red Wings on Wednesday, but rebounded with a 3-2 shootout win over the Ducks two nights later. Columbus has at least a point in six of their last seven games and are 5-2-2 at Nationwide Arena this season. Rick Nash is playing extremely well right now, leading the Jackets with 13 goals and 24 points – he’s got points in three straight games. I assume Steve Mason will start in net, he let in eight in his last start, so it’ll be interesting to see how he responds.

Avalanche @ Oilers
Wednesday Nov. 18th – Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-The Colorado Avalanche were first overall in the NHL last week, but three straight losses have seen them drop off a little bit, and they now sit in third overall, second in the West. Before they come to Edmonton, the Avs will have to get through the Calgary Flames, coming off an 8-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. In their last meeting, the Oilers were 4-for-7 on the power play and pulled out the 5-3 win. Wojtek Wolski leads Colorado with nine goals on the season, while Paul Stastny is the team leader in points with 18 in 20 games. Craig Anderson was pulled after four goals on Saturday night, but is 11-5-3 overall this year.

Blackhawks @ Oilers
Saturday Nov. 21st – Pre game: 6:30pm, Puck drop: 8pm; 630 CHED

-The Chicago Blackhawks have won four in a row and have points in their last five games – so the Oilers will face a tough test. Edmonton’s PP has been struggling and the Hawks have been sharp on the penalty kill, with just one goal allowed in their last 19 kills. Chicago has a potent offense led by Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews – overall a fairly balanced attack. In their only other meeting this season, the Hawks beat the Oilers 4-3.

Who’s hot:

Dustin Penner – the big-bodied forward has a goal in three of his last four games and leads the Oilers with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists). He’s skating very well and also leads the team with a +9 rating.

What to watch for:

The Oilers power play improving – Edmonton was 4-for-7 on the PP against the Avalanche last Sunday, but since then they’ve scored just once in 13 tries. Oilers coach Pat Quinn has been very critical of his clubs lack of scoring opportunities when on the man advantage.

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