When the Blackhawks last visited Edmonton, the result was, to say the least, a bit lopsided. I haven't been to many game this year, but this was one that my wife and I attended, along with our daughter who was not quite two months old at the time. I know, it's borderline child abuse taking a kid to an Oilers game these days. Anyway, the Oilers did their part to make that joke a little less funny and a little more true by losing 7-1. And we stayed until the final whistle blew. Why? So that Maëlle could start to learn early on why her father is so unhappy all of the time. We're not going to the game tonight, but for those that are I hope that they keep things a tad closer.
How To Tune In
If you're not going to the game tonight, you can tune into Sportsnet West at 7:30PM to see what all the fuss is about.
What To Watch For From The Oilers
Whenever a team changes coaches there is a rush to identify the things that are different and are contributing to the team's (hopefully) improved on ice performance. Even though it's been only ten games since Eakins was fired, and it's really to early to assign credit for anything, that's what some are doing.
And why are the Oilers better? Practices. Apparently under Eakins the practices were much more technical, with Nelson they're harder working. I'm not going to pretend to know how this affects the players, but it seems odd that we heard so little about practices before (I know that Reid Wilkins talked about it and I've been told Jason Gregor did as well) and now it seems to be all the rage.
But the Oilers have led or been tied after one period in 7 of 10 games since Eakins was fired and considering how often they looked lifeless and were down goals early under Eakins, maybe there's something to this practice thing after all. Not giving the Hawks and early lead won't guarantee the Oilers a victory tonight, but it can't hurt their chances.
What To Watch For From The Blackhawks
From Second City Hockey:
The Blackhawks arrive in Alberta off a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, despite being outshot, 44-20, with most of the Wild's shots coming in last 40 minutes.
Patrick Sharp scored the first period to give Chicago their first opening goal in six games, while Patrick Kane also found the net and Bryan Bickell added two goals in the third period for a 4-2 win in Minnesota on Thursday.
Bickell's stick is red-hot, having scored four in his last five games. The 28-year-old was moved up to the second line alongside Brad Richards and Kane against Minnesota, providing a spark from a player who's at times disappointed in the regular season. He has 16 points (8G, 8A) at the midway mark this season.
Kane's goal was his 20th on the season, marking the eighth time in as many NHL seasons he has reached the milestone.
Toews enjoys playing the Oilers as he has tallied 27 points in 26 games. His 16 goals against Edmonton is the best against any NHL team.
As we look back upon these Oilers we can be sure of one thing: the team improved tremendously with the Horcoff millstone gone— elQuain (@elQuain) January 9, 2015