With a win tonight, the Blackhawks are guarenteed to go at least .500 on this road trip from hell. In their final stop in Canada on this trip (and for the regular season, unless you count Minnesota), they're playing a team that has one win in their last 18 games. In the last 10 games, they're 0-8-2, they've scored 20 goals but they've let in 37. Not only are they at the bottom of the Western Conference, they'd be at the basement of the East as well. So yeah, things aren't too great up in Edmonton. At least the quality of their ice is the best in the league, right? Oh wait.. that'll help the Hawks too. Sorry Oil fans.
The Oilers are coming off a heartbreaking loss against the Stars. Trailing almost the entire game, the Oilers caught a lucky break as Mike Modano attempted to kick the puck away from the crease but instead booted it top shelf to tie the game with only 62 seconds left. You'd think that'd at least be good enough to get your team a consolation point for OT, but you wouldn't expect James Neal to score again for the Stars with only 23 seconds left. The Oilers have had all weekend to stew over this loss and get ready for the Hawks tonight. Lets hope they didn't get any ideas from watching the Canucks game.
Even if they did though, they're pretty far from the talent level of the Nucks, and even further from the douche level,of course. Dany Heatly is looking like a genius for snubbing Kevin Lowe and the rest of Edmonton. Of all people, Dustin Penner is leading the Oilers in points with 43 (and that's only 7 more points than Patrick Kane has assists by the way). After him, there's a considerable drop off for second on the team (Lubomir Visnovsky at 29). Sheldon Souray will make you pay if you let him get his shot off from the point but he also has the teams worst +/- rating for defensemen. Sam Gagner has been heating up with a couple of goals in the Stars game.
Things are even worse between the pipes for the Oilers. Our dear old friend Nikolai Khabibulin has the team's best SV% and GAA, but he's been sidelined since November 16th with a herniated disc and is done for at least the year, if not forever. With Jeff Deslauriers, who is starting tonight, and Devan Dubnyk splitting time in the crease, the Oilers have the second worse GA/G and are only being saved from the basement there by the hilariousness that is Vesa Toskala and the rest of the Maple Leafs. The Oilers have the second worse penalty kill as well (again, thanks to the Leafs) but surprisingly have a decent power play (11th overall).
For the Hawks it'll be Huet getting the nod again as the Hawks will try to put their biggest loss of the year behind them. Even with the Oilers getting a healthy rest, I'd still expect the Hawks to come out flying.
Lets Go Hawks