The Avs and Oilers are both struggling to find their identity. Both teams got off to solid starts, but neither has been able to sustain their good fortune. After a 9-3-2 start, the Oilers went 4-9-1 and now find themselves in 11th place. The Avs started the year 6-0 on the road, but the wheels fell off and they are 0-6-1 in their last seven away from Denver.
Both teams will be hungry to reverse their recent skids tonight at Rexall Place.
The Oilers are coming off their worst and most disappointing performance of the season, and Tom Renney shuffled all four of his left wingers at practice yesterday.
Gagner – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
Smyth – Horcoff – Hemsky
Eager – Belanger – Jones
Paajarvi – Lander – Petrell
Smid – Gilbert
Whitney – Petry
Peckham – Teubert
It was one bad game, but Wednesday’s loss v. the Hurricanes had nothing to do with chemistry. They lost because they clearly didn’t work hard enough. Maybe the new combos will pique their interest, but I’d like to think that getting an NHL paycheque should be enough to entice them to put forth a solid effort.
I like putting Lander and Paajarvi together, because Paajarvi and Belanger were never on the same page. I’d keep the Swedes together for four or five games and see what they can do. Realistically though, they won’t get loads of icetime unless Renney plans on changing up his special teams units.
The Oilers penalty kill has been awful the last ten games.
They’ve allowed 12 goals on 46 attempts for a dreadful 73.9%. Their goaltending hasn’t been as good, but they four-man units haven’t been as aggressive as they were earlier in the year.
"It’s been a little bit frustrating. We’ve gotten away from what we were successful with early. We are allowing teams to set up, we’re not getting in shooting lanes enough, we aren’t paying the price enough and we’re weak in front of our net. It’s up to all four guys on the ice to work together." said Shawn Horcoff.
"It’s human nature if things go a little bit sour that you don’t want to make mistakes and you try to do the right thing, but with that comes some passiveness. A lot of times on the PK that is not good, because you don’t want to give skilled guys extra time. We’ve talked about it and I think you’ll see us get back to what we were doing early on," Horcoff added.
They just flat out need to put forth a better effort and after talking to numerous players I’d be stunned if they get outworked tonight.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Does anyone expect the Oilers not to be inspired after that horrendous performance on Wednesday? They will be so inspired that Magnus Paajarvi will score his first of the season in a 4-3 win. I just hope he has the same facial expression after his goal that he has on the FIST PUMP CAM during Oiler games. Hilarious.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite most of the Nation being collectively disgusted with the last two games, you’ll all be watching tonight. The organization should never lose sight of how loyal their fans are.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers will play their 3rd of four straight national broadcasted games tonight. That has to be a first, and after tonight’s win Leafs fans will start complaining that they are seeing too many Oiler games. The irony will be lost on them.
On Positive Friday we will have another great auction item for Santas Anonymous
- Signed Taylor Hall jersey courtesy of the Sports Closet in Sherwood Park Mall.
- A pair of seats, row 16 centre ice for the Oilers/Leafs courtesty of the Pint off Whyte.
- A party for 15 at the Pint Downtown.
The jersey is the old school colours.
To bid you can call 780.426.8326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Bidding starts at 2 p.m and ends at 5:45 MST with 100% of the money going to Santas Anonymous.
If you want to feel better about the Oilers, then bid and help out some families and kids who need the help. You’ll feel great. If you can’t bid on the entire package, you can drop off a toy HERE.
Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas.