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Edmonton Oilers at Chicago Blackhawks Game 18 Preview: Omar Comin.

The Oilers start a nine-game road trip tonight - they get the Blackhawks twice. Ouch.

Jonathan Daniel
Edmonton Eskimos


Chicago Cougars
7-7-3, 1.0 p/g
15-0-3, 1.833 p/g
Western Conf: 12th Western Conf: 1th
NHLN Share: 16th NHLN Share: 2nd

1:30 p.m. MST | Sportsnet
Rexall Place

The opposing view: Second City Hockey

Top Story: The Oilers begged, borrowed and stole two points from Phoenix in the final game of the homestand to salvage something from the homestand. The Oilers begin a nine game road trip against Chicago tonight, the first of two meetings with the Blackhawks on this trip.

The Blackhawks are off to a ridiculous start, thanks to the hottest start in the careers of Ray Emery and Corey Crawford. The two have combined for an even strength save percentage of .940. That number will start to fall as the season wears on, but it won't matter. Chicago can go 11-19 the rest of the way and still make the playoffs. They can go 15-14-1 the rest of the way and probably still win the conference!

The Blackhawks are a juggernaut, but the Oilers desperately need two points.

The Oilers are saying:

"What’s going on with Whitney?" asked an NHL executive before Saturday’s game.
"He’s not even 30 and and he’s sitting out?" said the long-time NHL observer.
"Is his game that bad?"

--Edmonton sports writer Jim Matheson quoting an NHL executive and observer in his story on Ryan Whitney.

Who does Matheson hang out with? How can two people so closely tied to the NHL be so shocked that Whitney's play has been atrocious, when it was just as bad last season?

The Opponent is saying:

"It seems like things haven't changed. Everyone's playing hard and making the right plays, not turning pucks over and guys are coming back to help out our 'D.' It's just another solid victory for us."

--Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, on his win over Columbus yesterday.

Crawford just returned from an injury and played yesterday against Columbus, so it's likely that Chicago will play Ray Emery in goal against the Oilers. It won't matter that much - the Blackhawks are the second stingiest even-strength team in the league and the Oilers are the worst even strength scoring team in the league. Unless the dam finally breaks for Chicago, this game is going to be rough on Edmonton.

Key matchup: Nail Yakupov vs. Ralph Krueger. When the superstar is on the left wing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, the latter two are okay. When anyone else is there, Gagner and Hemsky have been a mess. Get Yakupov up to that line and give the Blackhawks something to worry about.

Edmonton Oilers Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Andy Sutton knee 01/16/2013
Shawn Horcoff other-excused 02/05/2013
Anton Lander foot 02/07/2013
Lennart Petrell concussion 02/13/2013

Chicago Blackhawks Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Steve Montador concussion 01/14/2013
Rostislav Olesz knee 01/18/2013