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GAME PREVIEW: Edmonton Oilers vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Oilers right back at it after disappointing finish versus Vegas last night

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (23-17-3), 5th, Pacific)

Chicago Blackhawks (16-23-7), 7th, Central)

08 February 2022

Rogers Place

7 PM MT

TV: Sportsnet West

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Second City Hockey

MISTER ZEROS

The Oilers came out buzzing early on, but it was all for naught. A shaky first goal, followed later in the period by a shorthanded goal would give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead heading into the second. In the end, four different Golden Knights would score to spoil Mike Smith’s return to the crease after a five week absence. The Oilers would be unable to slide even one past former Oiler Laurent Brossoit, and the Golden Knights took this one by a 4-0 score.

The Oilers can’t let this one linger in their minds too long, as they’re right back at it against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. Can they hit the reset button and find some goals again?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“Our start was good, there were a lot of almost-plays...We just missed on a play or were just a half second late and your timing is just a little bit off. Those half-second plays lead to chances and goals. We were just a little bit sloppy in that sense and our execution on certain plays wasn’t there.”

Source

That’s Oilers forward Zach Hyman after his club’s 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

Once the Golden Knights had their second goal of the first period off a shorthanded tally, the writing was on the wall. The Oilers mounted some pressure late in the third, by this time it was already 4-0 Vegas and the game set.

THE BLACKHAWKS ARE SAYING

Derek King isn’t exactly wrong when he describes the Oilers as “fragile”, but a quick look at the guide and record book would suggest that the Blackhawks have exactly 16 wins on the season so far.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • Stuart Skinner should go for the Oilers tonight in net. Skinner (5-6-0, .908 SV% / 2.85 GAA) hasn’t played since January 29th, a win versus the Canadiens. Marc-Andre Fleury is the likely starter for Chicago (14-16-3, .908 SV% / 2.93 GAA).
  • Mike Smith didn’t have the outing he wish he would have had last night. Four goals against (and no goals for the Oilers) had him sitting with an .857SV% on the night. Why hasn’t he gotten a conditioning assignment this year? According to the Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, Smith himself would need to ask for one. A couple of games in Bakersfield might not have hurt Smith, but it sounds like he was ready to come back as soon as he could.
  • The Oilers will face the fourth worst team on offence tonight as they take on the Blackhawks. They’re averaging just 2.37 goals per game, and they’re ranked 25th in the league at 3.37 goals per game allowed. On average, they’re allowing one more goal per game compared to what they’re scoring. If the Oilers can outwork the Blackhawks tonight, they’ll have a good shot at making good things happen.
  • The Blackhawks will be missing Jonathan Toews from the lineup due to concussion protocol, but they’ll have plenty of firepower on the top line with Patrick Kane, Dominik Kublalik and Dylan Strome to deal with.
  • The Oilers need this one tonight to keep pace with Calgary in the standings. The Flames will be ramping up against Vegas tonight.