Monday, April 5, 2010

Kerrzy's Notebook: Oilers This Week

Last week:

The Edmonton Oilers went winless last week, stretching their current losing skid to five in a row.

The team battled hard in a 5-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings that came down to a goal with 1:07 to go, before falling to the Stars and the Coyotes. In Dallas, the Oil went down 3-0, battled back to 3-3 and lost 6-3 and then lose 3-2 in a shootout the next day.

With the loss to the Wings, the Oilers clinched last place overall.

This week:

Edmonton is at home to the Minnesota Wild and the Colorado Avalanche to begin the week, before they head to California for games against the Kings and the Ducks. This is the last week of the 2009/2010 season for the Oil (and the Wild, maybe the Avs and the Ducks).

Wild @ Oilers
Monday April 5th - Pre game: 6pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-This is the final meeting of the season between the two Northwest Division rivals, neither of whom will be playing beyond the regular season. A win for the Oil would tie the season-series at three each. The Wild come into this week having lost three straight and four of five. Mikko Koivu leads the team in scoring with 68 points in 77 games, while Guillaume Latendresse leads the team in scoring with 25 goals, followed by Andrew Brunette with 24. Between the pipes, Nik Backstrom has been the go-to guy all season despite suffering a few injuries. He's got 26 wins in 57 starts and is always capable of stealing the show.

Avalanche @ Oilers
Wednesday April 7th - Pre game: 6pm, Puck drop: 7:30pm; 630 CHED

-Win or lose, the Oilers will get a chance to play the role of spoiler against the Colorado Avalanche this week - a win would hurt Colorado's chances at a playoff berth, while a loss would hurt Calgary's shot. Coming into this week, the Avs had lost four of five but sit two points up on the Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, with a game in hand. Colorado is led by youngster Paul Stastny, who has 76 points in 78 games this season, with Chris Stewart leading the way goal-wise with 28. In all, the Avalanche have four players with at least 19 goals. In goal, Craig Anderson has made 69 starts, putting up 37 wins along the way.

Oilers @ Kings
Saturday April 10th - Pre game: 2:30pm, Puck drop: 4pm; 630 CHED

-The Los Angeles Kings have already clinched a playoff spot, so the Oilers can't hurt them there, however where they wind up in the Western standings is still up for debate. Heading into this week, the Kings sit in seventh place but they are three points out of fifth. They'll be looking to help themselves out with some big points to end the season for a more favourable first round matchup. This season, the Kings are 2-0-1 against the Oilers, losing in a shootout in the last meeting between the two teams in early February. LA is a dangerous team on offence with players like Anze Kopitar (34g, 78pts), Alex Frolov (18g, 50pts) and Dustin Brown (21g, 29pts), among others. On the blue line, Drew Doughty is another player to watch, with 15 goals and 56 points to sit second in team scoring. Between the pipes, Jonathan Quick has 39 wins in his second full NHL season.

Oilers @ Ducks
Sunday April 11th - Pre game: 6:30pm, Puck drop: 8pm; 630 CHED

-This one could get ugly - last game of the year, two (probably) non-playoff teams and two teams that have grown to dislike each other, which has been fairly evident in their last few meetings. The Ducks are playing well lately but it appears to be too little too late - coming into this week, they've won four of five and are 8-2-1 in their last eleven games. Still though, they sit six points of eighth and would need a lot of help to make the playoffs. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan lead the Ducks offensively, with 73, 69 and 58 points respectively. Ryan leads the team in goal scoring with 31 goals, while veterans like Teemu Selanne (24g, 45pts) provide a good one-two punch up front. In goal, Jonas Hiller has been the clear-cut number one since the team dealt JS Giguere to the Leafs - he's on the verge of his first 30-win season, posting a 29-23-3 record with a 2.76 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

Who's hot:

Tom Gilbert - The defenseman has been putting up a lot of points since he's taken on more responsibility with the team and since he's been paired up with fellow American Ryan Whitney. Gilbert has four points in his last three games and eight points in seven games.

Dustin Penner - The big-bodied forward is looking for his first career 30-goal season and after goals in his last two games (and three points), the 6-foot-4, 243-pounder has 29. His game has been given a boost by playing alongside Andrew Cogliano.

What to watch for:

Playing for Jobs - Just like the last few weeks, a lot of players are fighting for employment with the Oilers beyond this season. Who will step up and try to impress the coaching staff?

New guys - Charles Linglet played his first career NHL game on Friday night after leading the Springfield Falcons in scoring all year down in the AHL; Ryan Jones is back in the lineup after getting hurt in his first game with the Oilers. It will be interesting to see how these guys stack up.

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