The Oilers have won 3 in a row for the first time this season. Wins are wins and they all count for 2 points but the Oilers were not playing the élite clubs of the National Hockey League. With all due respect to the Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Florida Panthers, they are not in the top end of the standings. Tonight’s tilt with the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks will offer a true Litmus test on whether the Oilers wins were more of a mirage or a true indication of the Oilers turning towards respectability.
There are expected to be no line-up changes for tonight’s game. Dubnyk who was named the NHL’s 3rd star of the week, for the week ending November 24th gets the start in net. Dubnyk posted a .50 GAA and a very impressive .974 save percentage last week.
The Oilers power play has climbed to 9th overall in the NHL and need to take advantage of Chicago’s 29th ranked penalty kill. The Oilers penalty killing is now 15th in the NHL after being 30th in the NHL early in the season. The Oilers need to limit turnovers and manage the puck well. Jeff Petry thinks they are up to the challenge.
It’s something that we look forward to. ” “It’s a good test for us as a defensive core and as a team. We played well against them the majority of the game in Chicago but didn’t get the result we wanted too. Here’s a chance. We’re coming off of three wins but it’s definitely going to be a strong test for us tonight.”
News and Notes:
David Perron has made the trade of Magnus Paarjarvi to St. Louis look like highway robbery. Paarjarvi scored his first goal recently while Perron has tallied 8 goals and 10 assists for 18 points in 20 games. He has added much needed grit to the top 6 as well. Ryan Smyth has been a much different player than the guy that looked like he was skating in quicksand last year. The new shallower nets has helped Smyth create scoring chances and he has been excellent on a checking/scoring line with Perron and Boyd Gordon. Their play has given the Oilers 3 scoring lines and is the key reason while the Oilers have won 3 in a row.
The result tonight will give the Oilers players and staff a better idea if the Oilers have progressed or just rose above meagre competition.