This afternoon the Oilers take on the Avalanche for the second time in this shortened season. The last time out the Oilers’ Power Play was the star of the game, as it has been most games for the young Edmonton squad. The struggling Avalanche are the right team for the Oil to get back on track against.
Against the Sharks the Oilers played a pretty good game. I’m sure Krueger didnt appreciate all the chances that were given up, but on the flip side the Oilers created some grade a chances themselves, many at Even Strength. I think the Oilers are getting better as they get more games under their belts. The Hall-Nuge-Eberle line is just heating up now. Nuge hasnt been able to capitalize on his chances the way he should and yet he still has 5 points in 7 games. Gagner has been great on the 2nd line with Yak and Hemsky. And Smyth is only now waking up from his Lockout slumber.
The Avs have some key names still out of the lineup, including the Captain: Young Landeskog. Between him, O’Reilly, and Downie the Avs have lost their forward scoring depth. Their team is led by Duchene and Parenteau (7 points each). After those two the scoring takes a long walk off a short pier. Quite frankly the Avs just dont match up against the Oilers and should be overwhelmed.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Hot Streaks
Both Hall and Gagner are on 7 game point streaks. Considering that means the Oilers have had scoring from both of their top 2 lines in every game I’d say these two streaks are without a doubt the driving force behind Edmonton’s success. Gagner’s offense was not predicted by most this year and is the most likely to drop off. Hopefully when it does fall away the other two on his line will pick it up.
2) Adding a Physical Dimension
The Oilers are not an overly physical team so the few on the roster that CAN add that dimension must do so. Fistric is the sort of bruising defender that can help prevent other clubs from imposing their will. That’s great in the D-Zone but the forwards have to get a little more greasy to open up the Offensive Zone. More grit from skill players will go a long way.
3) Adapt to the Change in Routine
Historically these afternoon games kill the Oilers. I dont know why but the change in their daily routines has killed them. They often looked flat in the past. These high powered Oilers are dead in the water when they play without their spark. They just arent experienced enough to fake it for a period or two. They have to be ready at 1.
The Puck drops at 1:00 PM Mountain time on Sportsnet. Game On!