January 22 2010 11:38AM
Coming off their best effort in a month, the Oilers will try for their first win in 2010 tonight when the face the Dallas Stars. The Oilers are the only team in the NHL without a win in 2010.
The Stars lost last night in Vancouver, and sit five points back of eighth-place Detroit — the Phlegms have lost five in a row and are in 9th place, by virtue of playing one more game than the Wings.
I’m not a diehard fan anymore due to my job, but I’m an Edmontonian and I will always have a rivalry against Calgary. How much better would Oiler fans feel if you got the first or second pick and the Flames missed the playoffs? It's a Calgary thing to mock Edmonton, or basically try to cover their inferiority complex, but I think most Edmontonians would revel in watching the “C” go down in Flames.
I digress. Back to tonight’s game...
The Stars can’t keep the puck out of the net (161 GA) and that’s why they sit with 53 points and in 10th spot in the west. Only Columbus (176) and Edmonton (168) have given up more goals in the west, and the Stars don’t have enough scoring power to compensate for that.
Marc Crawford isn’t winning many fans inside his locker room. His caustic personality has rubbed a few the wrong way, which you’d expect, but when a team isn’t winning that type of coaching personality gets annoying much more quickly.
Brad Richards is having a stellar campaign, tied for 6th in league scoring with 57 points, but he is -10. Loui Eriksson, 21 goals and 48 points and James Neal, 19 goals and 37 points have been solid again. However, Mike Ribeiro, Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano are having below average seasons.
The Stars will go with all their power on one line.
Neal — Richards — Eriksson
Ott — Wandell — Brunnstrom
Sutherby — Benn — Sawada
Barch — Modano — Petersen
I think it's clear that Modano is near the end with only eight goals and 18 points. Ribeiro has ten goals, while Brendan Morrow only has 27 points. Morrow will sit out again tonight with a lower body injury.
We shouldn’t be surprised the Stars are struggling defensively with all the young defenders they have. Matt Niskanen, Mark Firstric, Nicklas Grossman and Jeff Woywitka along with Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Karlis Skrastins make up their blueline. Not a stellar cast.
The Stars are 0-8-2 in their last ten road games, so if the Oilers are ever going to win a game again, tonight would look like the night...
The Oilers only had 14 skaters on the ice this morning including Mike Comrie, so there were no line rushes. They did a lot of skating and shooting drills.
Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Lubomir Visnovsky, Ethan Moreau and Taylor Chorney didn’t skate. Chorney’s flight didn’t make it in time but he will play tonight in place of Ladislav Smid. Smid and Steve Staios along with Gilbert Brule and Comrie won’t go tonight.
The Oilers have won both meetings this year, and they won both in a shootout; 5-4 in Edmonton on Oct 6th and 3-2 in Dallas on Dec 5th.
The lines are the same tonight and Devan Dubnyk will start his second-straight game. He played his best game of the year v. Vancouver so Quinn will give him a chance to get on a roll.
Mike Comrie is hoping to play on Tuesday.
"I’ll be ready to go for the skills competition. I have to challenge Pouliot for the accuracy shooting. I think he went four-for-four last year so I’ll try to take his title."
Comrie is looking to have to solid skates over the weekend and then hopefully he can play v. the Blackhawks on Tuesday.