Turmoil in Edmonton and smooth sailing in big D. These teams are on opposite trajectories, but have many of the same problems, especially defensive depth. They're both reliant on their big goaltenders and they both figure to be in the mix for the 7-10 spots in the West if they can get and stay healthy.
Oilers Report: Oh boy. Ryan Smyth and Ryan Whitney are in the press box tonight, making it a very expensive guest section. Darcy Hordichuk is gone (hopefully for good) and Shawn Horcoff is still hurt. That puts Chris Vandevelde into the lineup between the recently extremely effective Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen, but leaves Eric Belanger in the midst of Ben Eager and Lennart Petrell - a zero chance of offense line. The Oilers have to find a way to beat Jamie Benn and Derek Roy - something they couldn't do last time around.
Stars Report: The Stars are heating up now that Benn and Roy have fit in. The defense is still suspect, but the forward depth, especially at centre, is creating opportunities through puck possession, something the Stars haven't had much of in recent years. While Benn and Roy are getting headlines, Cody Eakin has been mild surprise. Eakin is breaking even with the protection of Roy and Benn in front of him and if he keeps it up, he'll solve a big problem for the Stars - a third NHL centre.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ben Eager - Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell
Magnus Paajarvi - Chris VandeVelde - Teemu Hartikainen
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ladislav Smid - Corey Potter
Mark Fistric - Jeff Petry
Scratches: Ryan Smyth, Ryan Whitney, Theo Peckham (on assignment)
By The Numbers
Through the first twelve games of last season Oilers named Ryan combined for 14 goals and 13 assists. This season just one goal and ten assists. In both cases one Ryan spent the first twelve games on the injured reserve.
Since the 2003 season when these two teams last played in the playoffs the Oilers have won just nine of 33 meeting against the Stars.
After starting the season with power play goals in six straight games the Oilers have gone a combined 3 for 26 with the man advantage in their last six games. Despite the recent slump the team still ranks fifth in the NHL with a 24.1% conversion rate.
This season the Oilers have the third fewest shots/60 in 5-on-4 situations, 37.3, but the fourth best shooting percentage at 20.0%.
Thanks to strong play from Dubnyk the Oilers find themselves with the ninth fewest goals allowed per game. The last time the Oilers finished the season better than 20th was in 2005/06.