Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

The Edmonton Oilers began last week with back-to-back losses and wrapped it up with two straight wins, as they added and subtracted players from the lineup at the trade deadline.

On Tuesday Denis Grebeshkov, who the Oilers dealt to Nashville a day before, burned his old club with a two-point night in a 4-3 Predators win. A day later, the Chicago Blackhawks scored three third period goals in a 5-2 win over the Oil, who dealt two veteran blue liners away earlier that afternoon.

After two days to regroup and get new bodies like defensemen Ryan Whitney and Aaron Johnson in the lineup, the Oilers beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout on Friday and followed that up with a 2-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Another newcomer, Ryan Jones, suffered a sprained knee against the Wild and is out for four weeks.

This Week:

It's an all-Canadian week for the Edmonton Oilers this week as they get set to host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday before visits to Montreal and Toronto on Thursday and Saturday, as the team looks for it's first three-game win streak since the second week of December.

Senators @ Oilers
Tuesday March 9th - Pre game: 5:30pm, Puck drop: 7pm; 630 CHED

-It’s been an interesting start to the year for the Senators – they lost six in a row and then eleven straight in January and early February. They then won three of five, followed by three straight losses coming into this week’s action. Much of their success came when forward Jason Spezza was on a roll, scoring 15 points in 11 games. He’s not their only offensive weapon though – Daniel Alfredsson leads Ottawa in scoring with 51 points, followed by Alex Kovalev at 47. In terms of goal scoring, Milan Michalek has 21, with Mike Fisher right behind him at 20. In all, the Sens have five players with at least 15 goals. Brian Elliot and Pascal Leclaire have both played at least 30 games, with Elliot posting the better record and statistics. The Sens are in a tight battle for the Northeast division with the Buffalo Sabres, sitting just two points back.

Oilers @ Canadiens
Thursday March 11th - Pre game: 4pm, Puck drop: 5:30pm; 630 CHED

-The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to even their season series with the Oilers when the two teams meet on Thursday – they’ll also be looking to keep a hold of their playoff spot in the East. Right now, they’re just one point up on the eighth place Bruins and three points ahead of the ninth place Rangers. Coming into this week, the Habs have won three of four and face the Lightning before their tilt with the Oil. Montreal is led offensively by forward Tomas Plekanec, who has 62 points in 67 games this season. The Habs have seven players with at least 11 goals – one of those guys is Mike Cammalleri, who is currently sitting out with an injury. Montreal has had troubles in goal as both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak have been good and bad this season – Halak has a better record but they’ve both had their moments.

Oilers @ Maple Leafs
Saturday March 13th - Pre game: 3:30pm, Puck drop: 5pm; 630 CHED

-The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers are the two bottom teams in the NHL and both clubs are playing for pride at this point – but you know players on both sides will want to win on the national stage of Hockey Night in Canada! The Leafs have won just once in their last six games and just six times in all of 2010, one more win than the Oil. Toronto has made big changes in the past couple of weeks, but their main pieces are still there – Phil Kessel has the most goals on the team (22), and is second in points (42), behind Tomas Kaberle who has 46 points. Jonas Gustavsson is the clear number one in T.O. now that Vesa Toskala has been shipped out of town; J.S. Giguere has been pretty brutal in the few games he has started for the Leafs.

Who's hot:

Gilbert Brule - Brule potted the game-winner against the Devils on Sunday and has five points in his last five games for 30 points on the season. Oilers coach Pat Quinn has said he likes what he's seeing from the Edmonton native and wants to see him develop into a solid two-way player.

Mike Comrie - Comrie has two goals in his last three games plus a shootout winner in the Minnesota game and three points in his last four outings. If Comrie is producing offensively, that's an obvious plus for the team.

What to watch for:

The Battle in Goal - With jobs on the line, look for one of Edmonton's goalies to emerge as the number one guy. It appears to be Jeff Deslaurier right now, but neither he nor Devan Dubnyk has shown enough consistency at this point to call it a sure thing. The coaching staff has said on several occasions that one guy has to step up, but who will it be?

Follow the Leader - Oilers coach Pat Quinn spoke to reporters at length about leadership on Monday, so who will be the players that emerge as the leaders of this team in the last part of the season? The Oil are playing good hockey in the last couple of games, but who will take charge and keep the team consistent?

New Faces - The team welcomed three new faces at the trade deadline in Ryan Whitney, Ryan Jones and Aaron Johnson. Whitney is an obvious top-line defenseman, but Johnson will also be playing some big minutes as he tries to show the coaches that he's worth keeping around after this season. Unfortunately, Jones is out for four weeks with a sprained knee after that Derek Boogaard hit. Another possibility? Jordan Eberle could make his Oilers debut after the WHL season ends in mid-March.

No comments: