Fresh off a three-day break, the Oilers will try to extend their three-game winning streak vs. the defending Stanley Cup champions. Since the start of the 2010/2011 season the Oilers are 6-5-1 against the Hawks. The Oilers are 2-3-0 at home at 4-2-1 on the road.
The games in Edmonton have been blowouts. The Oilers have won by scores of 9-2 and 8-4, while the Hawks won 4-1, 5-0 and 4-1. The Oilers have outscored their opponents 15-3 during this short winning streak, but beating Chicago should be more difficult than beating Calgary, Columbus and Florida.
The Oilers’ are playing their best hockey of the season, but so are the Hawks. Chicago is 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and they’ve scored 4+ goals in nine of those games. Patrick Kane is on a ten-game scoring streak and has 16 points in 13 games, while Jonathan Toews has 15 points in that same span, and they are on different lines.
No reason to change anything when you are winning, although at some point you’d like to see more from Jesse Joensuu. He hasn’t done much, and once they lose I could see Ryan Jones and Marc Arcobello re-inserted into the lineup.
Marian Hossa is in Chicago taking care of a personal matter, so look for Brandon Saad to play with Toews and Patrick Sharp. Kane has Brandon Pirri as his centreman, and recently acquired Kris Versteeg will play the other wing.
- This is the healthiest we’ve seen the Oilers in years, and if they can stay healthy we will get a much more accurate assessment of who they are as a team. The Blackhawks have 12 skaters who have played every game. Their top-five D-men; Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya and Leddy, and forwards Toews, Sharp, Kane, Shaw, Saad, Kruger and Bollig. Hossa had missed four games and Bickell has missed two. Being healthy, especially when it is yoru best players, gives you a much better chance to win.
- Look for the Oilers to attack Kane when he has the puck and not give him time to set up. If Kane has time to set up in the offensive zone he will embarrass you. Eakins said he’d rather see the puck on Kane’s linemates’ sticks.
- Ken Hitchcock moving close to Hall of Fame, a goalie the Oilers have to look at in free agency, and a major blunder by the CFL. Read here.
- Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team’s MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn’t watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don’t overestimate his contributions.
- After reading Willis’ solid piece on Perron’s spike in shots on net, I asked the winger about his increased totals. "I’ve always liked to shoot, and right now I’m getting a lot of chances to shoot. I’m not sure if the system allows me more chances, or if I’m just getting more right now. It is early, but it seems every game I’m in a good spot to shoot. I really like playing with Gordo (Boyd Gordon) and Smitty (Ryan Smyth). We work well together and they get me the puck in good areas. I don’t think I’m doing anything really different than I have in the past, but I noticed I have almost as many shots this year than I had all of last season, so hopefully I can keep it up," Perron said.
He said he wanted to shoot more the past few years, but this year he said he has tried to shoot the puck quicker, and felt that he had more shots blocked last year. Interesting.
- The Oilers PP is now 9th in the league at 21.5%. After going 6 for 49 (12.2%) in their first 15 games, they are a sizzling 11 for 30 (36.7%) in their last nine games. The Oilers are 18th in PP chances, but if you went by games played, they’d be closer to 23rd.
- The Oilers PK has moved up to 15th overall at 83%. In their first 15 games they allowed 13 goals in 55 attempts (76.4%), but in their last nine games they’ve only allowed 2 goals in 33 kills (93.9%).
- The Oilers still take too many penalties. They’ve been shorthanded 88 times thus far, tied for 7th most in the NHL. Eakins has no problem with aggressive penalties, but he feels his team still takes too many stick infractions. They’ve been one of the most penalized teams for the past four seasons, and eventually that needs to change if they want to start winning.
- A big thank you to everyone who came out to DJ Suitcase party on Friday. It was a great night and we raised over $15,000 for the Inner City Children’s Program. Nice work.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fans will be entertained with nine goals, but this won’t be a blowout…The Hawks pick up their second 5-4 victory over the Oilers this season.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up two more points. Hall has 7-10-17 in 11 career games vs. the Hawks.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner scores the first goal of the game, and a few people suggest he’s on his way to another 8-point night. That won’t happen, but Gagner picks up an assist to finish with two points. Gagner gets rocked by Andrew Shaw early in the 2nd period, and can’t drop the mitts because his jaw isn’t 100%, so Andrew Ference rushes in and he and Shaw have a spirited tilt.