The Oilers recent games have conspired to make this game against St Louis a virtual ‘Must Win’. Are the young Oilers up to the task?
Ryan Whitney was on the ice for two goals against and in the box for another as the Oilers squandered a 2 goal lead against a very beatable San Jose club. Even though they held onto a point in that game it has them out under the gun right now. A bad stretch of a couple games and the pack can pull away from the Oilers.
Khabibulin is getting the call tonight in net. This move is one I wouldnt have likely made, especially considering the Oilers schedule gets really compacted after tonight. Devan Dubnyk would have had 2 nights rest to prepare for this game. Even though he let in a couple absolute softies, not counting that ridiculous final shootout goal, I would have gone back to him. I’m not as sold on Dubnyk as his supporters are, but his save percentage is still good. He is still making saves, even with the weak ones going by him.
RNH is going to miss his 2nd game in a row due to illness and the twitterverse is absolutely in fire. For anyone who hasnt yet I would highly suggest following Rob Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun. Always funny and the baby Nuge illness is just amazing fodder. Back to the actual illness, Krueger has said that Nugent-Hopkins might not even make the 2 game road trip that follows this game. What kind of plague does the little guy have?
My guess? Chicken Pox. Hall and Eberle probably had to tape oven mitts to his hands so he wouldnt scratch them. Poor guy.
Oilers Keys to the Game
1) Hitchcockian Work Ethic
The Oilers will need to match the work ethic of Hitchcock’s St Louis Blues. It seems that no matter where he goes Hitch can get his team to put in a blue collar effort. The Oilers havent found that drive to always push and outwork their opponents. If the Oil dont match the Blues in that department all the skill in the world wont help them one bit.
2) Whitney What Are You Doing?
As mentioned above, Ryan Whitney played a brutal game on Wednesday. It wasnt even the fact that he was on the ice for two against, because those were failures by a couple people. It was the penalty away from the puck where he hit a Shark in the numbers for no reason whatsoever. Maybe its the lack of foot speed resulting is boneheaded plays like that, but it is maddening watching him play out there.
3) Belanger Triangle
Belanger should draw in tonight as well. This should help alleviate some of the depth crisis the Oilers have down the middle, but he probably wont be bringing any secondary scoring with him. Belanger ought to help when the 4th is stuck out in the defensive zone for a draw, but at this point Belanger isnt really giving the Oilers much else. The better news is that Belanger in should shift at least one player to his natural position.
Puck drops at 8:08 PM Mountain Time on CBC. Game On!