After a sixteen-day break the Oilers get back at it tonight in Nashville where they’ll take on former teammate Denis Grebeshkov. I’m still a bit surprised some felt the Oilers should have gotten more for the inconsistent, $3 million D-man, because to me this trade was more about shedding cap space than anything else.
You won’t have the same emotion when you tune in to Sportsnet tonight as you did for the past week watching Canada in must-win situations, but the stretch run is here for the Oilers as they try to position themselves with the best chance to get the first pick in June.
The Oilers are 19-36-6, good for 30th in the league and they’ve given up the most goals, 211, while scoring 153, only Boston has scored less at 149. The Predators sit in 7th spot in the west, 33-23-5, good for 71 points. They are one point ahead of the Red Wings, two ahead of the Flames, three ahead of Dallas; Anaheim is four back.
The Preds aren’t home free by any stretch and tonight is a must-win over the worst team in the league. They’ve added Grebeshkov, and it seems likely that Dan Hamhuis will play his last game with the Predators tonight. I’d bet David Poile will want to add another forward before tomorrow’s 1 p.m. MST deadline, but don’t expect it to be Ethan Moreau or Fernando Pisani.
I’d bet those two veterans, barring a trade before game time, will play their last game as an Oiler tonight. Moreau has four points in his last three games, easily his most productive stretch of the season, and look for him to play well again tonight.
He’ll remain on a line with Shawn Horcoff and Mike Comrie. The other lines look like this:
Penner — Gagner — Nilsson
Pisani — Potulny — O’Sullivan
Brule — Pouliot — Cogliano
Ladislav Smid is out for tonight’s game so both Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney will play.
Peckham — Staios
Chorney — Visnovsky
Strudwick — Gilbert
Jeff Deslauriers will start in goal.
After watching Shea Weber and Ryan Suter perform in the Olympics, you realize why the Predators have been a playoff contender the past few years. Weber was outstanding for Canada, and Suter was equally impressive for the States.
Could David Poile roll the dice and keep Hamhuis to better his team’s chances of making the playoffs? Grebeshkov will be in the 3rd pairing along side Francois Bouilion, which is a pretty decent top-six, but knowing Poile, he’ll move Hamhuis for something by tomorrow rather than lose him for nothing this summer.
How hard have you tried to forget the first 61 games of the season? In case you’ve forgotten a few things about your beloved Copper and Blue here’s a quick refresher heading into the final 21 games.
- Penner leads the team in goals with 24. Potulny, yes Potulny, is tied for second with Gagner at 14.
- Only Penner, Cogliano and Gilbert have dressed for all 61 games.
- Outside of being a horrendous -29, Horcoff only has 90 shots on goal in 56 games. Feel free to shoot the puck. Cogliano and Moreau have more shots than Horcoff, although I wonder how many of Moreau’s were weak wrist shots from the top of the circles.
- Four of the D-men dressed for tonight don’t have a goal this season. Gilbert has two while Visnovsky has ten. Don’t expect much offence from the backend.
- The Oilers will need 17 points to avoid being the worst team in Oiler history; the 1992/1993 team went 26-50-8 for 60 points.
- They will need to score 43 goals to avoid being the lowest scoring team in franchise history; the 2006/2007 team scored 195 while giving up 248.
- If either Potulny or Gagner don’t score six more goals, this will be the first time the Oilers finish a full season with only one 20-goal scorer.
Oilers just sent this out:
"General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have acquired forward Matt Marquardt from the Boston Bruins in exchange for defenceman Cody Wild. Marquardt, 22, has appeared in 42 games with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League this season recording one goal and nine assists. Last season the 6’3”, 229lb left winger played in 71 games with the Providence Bruins and had 22 points (9G, 13A). He played junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats and Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL collecting 164 points in 203 games. Marquardt was originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 7th round, 194th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft."