Monday, February 1, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

Another week has come and gone without an Oilers win – this time around they fell to Chicago and St. Louis at Rexall Place before getting their butts kicked by the Flames in Calgary on Saturday night.

In Tuesday’s loss to Chicago, the Blackhawks scored on their first shot of the game and built up a 4-0 lead before the Oilers even got on the board. On Thursday, the Oilers held the Blues to just one shot in the third period, but that was all they needed in a 2-1 win.

Saturday night’s loss to Calgary may have been the toughest to swallow as the Flames were winless in nine prior to that game but came out and dominated the Oilers in a 6-1 game.

This week:

Edmonton’s winless streak now stands at 13 games and they are still without a win in 2010, but they get right back to it on Monday night, one of four games this week.

The Oilers host the Hurricanes and the Flyers before embarking on a five-game road trip, which starts Thursday in Minnesota and continues on Saturday in Denver.

Hurricanes @ Oilers
Monday Feb. 1st - Pre game: 6pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Carolina Hurricanes are seven points ahead of the Oilers in second last place overall, but they’re not playing like it – the ‘Canes have won four in a row and five of six coming into Monday’s game and have nine wins in fourteen games this month. Carolina is coming off a big win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday and will be a confident bunch as they try to add to the Oilers woes. The ‘Canes are led by Eric Staal, who has ten points in six games since being named captain earlier this month and is riding an eight game point streak. He’s not the only Carolina forward having success right now though – 37-year-old Ray Whitney is second in team scoring with 16 goals and 41 points and Jussi Jokinen is right behind him with 39 points on the season. Between the pipes, Cam Ward might not have the numbers this season (14-19-5), but he’s always capable of shutting the door and stealing a game for his club, like he did in a 39-save performance against Chicago this weekend.

Flyers @ Oilers
Wednesday Feb. 3rd - Pre game: 6pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Philadelphia Flyers kick off the week in Calgary having lost two of three (coming off a win over the Islanders), but have won four of their last six, going 8-5-1 in the month of January. The Flyers have lost three of their last four on the road and are sitting in the middle of a very tight playoff race in the East, so they need all the points they can get right now. The Flyers sit in a three-way tie for sixth place with 57 points in a conference where three points separates sixth from 13th. Up front, the Flyers are a dangerous team with players like Jeff Carter (22g, 47pts), Mike Richards (20g, 42pts) and Danny Briere (18g, 34pts), while Chris Pronger (29a, 37pts) is a serious threat from the blue line. Philly is a tough, gritty team with a lot of secondary scoring, but their goaltending isn’t always there. Ray Emery has looked great and average from game to game this season, posting a 15-11-1 record with a 2.73 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

Oilers @ Wild
Thursday Feb. 4th - Pre game: 4:30, Puck drop: 6pm; 630 CHED

-The Oilers and Wild split their first two meetings of the season and since then, Minnesota has been a very up and down team, always threatening to make a push in the Northwest, but never quite doing it. Their last win over the Oilers came at the start of a three-game win streak, which was followed by four straight losses, four straight wins, four straight losses, and almost another four game win streak, which was halted by the Sharks on Saturday. Before they host the Oilers, the Wild play the Dallas Stars having won three or four, putting them four points out of the playoffs. The Wild are led by Mikko Koivu up front, one of eight players with at least 10 goals. Koivu’s 16 goals and 49 points is tops among his teammates, with Andrew Brunette (14g, 42pts) and Martin Havlat (11g, 37pts) right behind him. Nick Backstrom is Minnesota’s starting goalie, but has been down with the flu as of this weekend, but hasn’t played since January 23rd with a back injury. Josh Harding has started the last three games, going 2-1-0 with a shutout and seven goals allowed in that span.

Oilers @ Avalanche
Saturday Feb. 6th - Pre game: 6:30, Puck drop: 8pm; 630 CHED

-The Avs have split their four meetings with the Oilers so far this season, including a 6-0 win back on January 18th. That win came in the middle of a six-game win streak, but since then the Avs have lost three in a row. Before they host the Oilers, the Avs play the Jackets and the Predators as they try to get back on top in the Northwest division. Rookie and second year forwards Matt Duchene and Chris Steward lead the team with 17 goals each and Paul Stastny has the team lead in points with 48, followed by Wojtek Wolski with 45. Craig Anderson has started Colorado’s last nine games and has a 26-14-5 record in 46 starts.

Who’s hot:

Sam Gagner – The young forward continues to put up points on a consistent basis, despite the team’s struggles. Gagner scored Edmonton’s lone goal against Calgary and has five points in his last five games. He’s also one of two Oilers that wasn’t a minus player in January.

What to watch for:

When will it end? – The Oilers current streak sits at 13 games without a win and losses in 20 of 21 games. How much longer can this thing go?

Will a road trip help? – The last time the Oilers played more than two in a row on the road they won five straight – will another five game road trip help them get out of this funk?

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