Game Thread: Edmonton Oilers @ Chicago Blackhawks - Ending a Streak

Eberle needs to step into the Hall-Hartikainen-Horcoff void. - Bruce Fedyck-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago is riding a streak like the league hasn't seen since Mario Lemieux's Penguins. The Oilers have 3 regulation wins in 17 games. It seems unlikely, but the Oilers desperately need points, and tonight works like any other.

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6-3. All the Oilers have to do is go 6-3 on this road trip and they should be in 7th place when they leave Denver. 4-4-1 and they're likely still in 12th place with four teams between them and a playoff spot. It's not likely (they play the 15-0-3 Chicago Blackhawks twice in nine games) but it wasn't likely that the Oilers would come back on Phoenix.

Team Reports

Oilers Report: Teemu Hartikainen is out, so the team's most consistent physical power play presence is gone. Combine that with Taylor Hall's absence, and Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle are going to have to pick up a bunch of slack. Magnus Paajarvi has been bumped to the Gagner - Ales Hemsky line, hopefull he can stop the bleeding that Nail Yakupov and Teemu Hartikainen haven't been able to help. Ben Eager is again on the de facto third line with Eric Belanger and Ryan Jones - that is not a line Ralph Krueger wants to expose to Joel Quenneville.

Blackhawks Report: The Blackhawks can thrown it in cruise control from here out and coast into the playoffs. A little bit of effort should keep them ahead of Vancouver for home ice in the West.

Expected Line Combinations

Ryan Smyth - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Magnus Paajarvi - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ben Eager - Eric Belanger - Ryan Jones

Nail Yakupov - Chris VandeVelde - Lennart Petrell

Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz

Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry

Mark Fistric - Corey Potter

Nikolai Khabibulin

Scratches: Taylor Hall, Theo Peckham, Ryan Whitney

Broadcast Information

United Center, 6:30 pm MST
TV - Sportsnet
Radio - 630 CHED

By The Numbers

  • The Chicago defense is loaded with names, but it's Nicklas Hjalmarsson leading them in even strength and short-handed time on ice per game.
  • The Oilers play their next 9 games in 17 days - their previous 9 games were played in 20 days.
  • Surprisingly, Chicago is not Sam Gagner's favorite victim. Gagner has 18 points in 20 career games against the Hawks.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin's .923 save percentage against the Blackhawks is his second-highest against the West. His .932 against Phoenix is his career-best against any Western team.
  • Ales Hemsky is playing just 16:16 per game. Should this continue, it would be his lowest average time on ice since 2003-04, when he was 20 years old.
  • Sam Gagner is the Oilers best regular penalty-killing forward thus far and it's not close. Not only is his shots against/60 of 34.6 the lowest on the team, his shots for/60 of 15.4 is the 8th-highest in the league among regular forwards. Put it together and he's got the sixth-best short-handed Corsi in the league. He's had a bunch of short-handed chances, including some breakaways, but hasn't been able to bury one. It's time to break onto the short-handed goals list.
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