The Oilers are back on home ice tonight looking to rebound from a lacklustre performance against the Flames on Saturday night. The Oilers lost that game by a final score of 4-3 and now have developed a rather interesting pattern of playing one good game followed by one bad game. That's a pattern I'm sure is frustrating to everyone involved - the players, coaches, and fans - but one I also suspect everyone would be happy to have continue through tonight's game before going by the wayside. With the visiting Avalanche taking to the ice without their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, you've got to like the Oilers chances.
Oilers Report: As was the case following the Oilers loss to the Sharks last week, Ralph Krueger has decided to make a change to his third defensive pairing in an effort to shake things up. That means Corey Potter draws back in and Mark Fistric will get the night off. Krueger can blend that pairing every single game but as long as Ryan Whitney remains a fixture on the pairing it is likely there will be struggles.
Teemu Hartikainen also steps back into the lineup in place of Darcy Hordichuk who did his best to show the world just how useless he is on Saturday night. Hartikainen will again be skating on the fourth line with Eric Belanger and Magnus Paajarvi; Lennart Petrell has been promoted the duty alongside Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth.
Avalanche Report: As mentioned above, Landeskog has been ruled out of tonight's game due to head and neck issues. Nobody is saying for certain but it's likely that Landeskog suffered the injuries when he was hit by Brad Stuart during Saturday's game against the Sharks. It looked like a head shot to me but there was no penalty on the play and Stuart won't be receiving a call from Brendan Shanahan either. I guess we're still not taking player safety seriously.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov - -
Lennart Petrell- -
- - Magnus Paajarvi
Justin Schultz -
Ryan Whitney - Mark Fistric
Scratches: Ben Eager, Corey Potter, Darcy Hordichuk
By The Numbers
A lot is being made of the Oilers production, or lack of, at five-on-five so far this season. Without a doubt the results have not been there but the Oilers are actually taking slightly more shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five this year compared to last. The problem is a little bit of bad luck so far.
At the opposite end of the PDO spectrum you'll find the Avalanche with a 1038 - 93 points higher than the Oilers - through four games. If the Oilers have had some bad luck then the Avs have had some very good luck during the first week and a bit of the NHL season.
Since Nordiques moved to Colorado becoming the Avalanche the Oilers have posted a 19-20-4-5 against them at Rexall Place. A win tonight would obviously get the Oilers back to the Gary Bettman version of .500.
Dubnyk and Semyon Varlamov will both be making their fifth start of the season tonight. Both have started in all of their teams games so far this season and neither managed to play the full 60 minutes against the Sharks. Dubnyk was pulled after the first; Varlamov after the second.