In the game thread for the first Blackhawks matchup, I wrote:
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.
This has not happened at all. The Oilers are in trouble, and even with a bunch of positive players returning tonight, they're still in deep to a Chicago team that is really well-constructed.
Oilers Report: Teemu Hartikainen is back in along with Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and Potter, Corey. The first three bring some semblance of a player who belongs in the NHL, so it's disheartening to see that Mike "Meat Popsicle" Brown is still in the lineup.
Blackhawks Report: The Blackhawks lost Patrick Sharp and lost to Colorado, so they're probably annoyed.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Ales Hemsky
Magnus Paajarvi - Sam Gagner - Jordan Eberle
Teemu Hartikainen - Shawn Horcoff - Nail Yakupov
Ryan Jones - Ryan Smyth - Mike Brown
Nick Schultz - Corey Potter
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Ryan Whitney - Justin Schultz
Scratches: Lennart Petrell, Theo Peckham, Ben Eager
By The Numbers
- The Oilers are down to 7th in STE while the Blackhawks are in 9th. The Oilers have no advantage on the power play or short-handed - these are evenly matched special teams.
- The last time the Oilers played competitive hockey was 2008.
- The Hawks are still getting out of this world (for their two goaltenders, at least) goaltending at even strength. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery have combined for a .933 save percentage at evens, good for 4th in the league.