Saturday, January 7th, 2011, 1:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: The Copper & Blue
Today the Edmonton Oilers come to town for an extremely early (1:00pm CST, remember) tilt with Dallas as the American Airlines Center will give way to the Dallas Mavericks later tonight. The Stars are coming off an impressive 4-1 road win in Nashville and are looking for their first back-to-back wins since December 15th.
The Stars went 1-3-0 in games that started at 3:00pm Central time or earlier last year, including that disastrous last second loss to the Kings at home and the game in which Brad Richards suffered his concussion, so they're hoping this season's matinee schedule is a little kinder.
In their first meeting with Edmonton the Stars broke a five a game losing streak despite giving the Oilers six power plays spanning over 10 minutes of game clock. Dallas won the game 4-1 on the strength of en eclectic scoring mix of Petersen, Ryder, Ott and Dvorak.
The Oilers enter looking to end a long seven game trip on a positive note after falling to St. Louis on Thursday night despite leading 3-1 heading into the third period. They've dropped eight of their last ten, are 6-15-1 on the road and just 16-21-3 overall on the year. Despite their disparate places in the Western Conference standings, the two teams share a goal differential of -5 on the year.
Much more on each team after the jump...
It looked as though the Stars may have lost another body in Mike Ribeiro after getting one (Stephane Robidas) back but after taking a slap shot to the face Thursday night it looks like he suffered no broken bones and will be OK to play. He wore a full cage for the third period after losing teeth and having stitching done on his mouth but will reportedly be back to just the visor today.
Robidas said he felt better as the game went on in Nashville and was not bothered by his foot, so he should still be in this afternoon. The Stars dressed seven defensemen Thursday, opting to double shift Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson with the fourth line throughout. When Ribeiro went out they were reduced to a three line team, with Tom Wandell jumping up. No word yet on how the might handle things today but the guess is that Jordie Benn would get the scratch and that Toby Petersen or Jake Dowell will come back in on the fourth line.
"We're going to kick it around, but I don't think that's where we'll go," said Gulutzan of using seven D again. "Robi got through that game, and we knew the Fisty thing was going to surface, so we just wanted protection."
The guess is that they keep Robias and Goligoski together and scratch Jordie Benn.
Kari Lehtonen said Friday that he is feeling better with each passing game as he gets into the swing of things. He's 2-2-0 since returning and allowed just one on 25 shots in Nashville.
The Stars out-chanced the Predators by our count 12-4, so let's see if they can produce similar results (on both sides) two games in a row with a similarly healthy lineup.
Edmonton got themselves into a bit of a special team's quagmire with the Blues on Thursday by the looks of the game sheets. The Oilers went 2 for 5, the Blues went 2 for 6 and the game featured nearly 20 minutes of combined power play time. Their power play has been hot of late, scoring five times in their last three games (5/13 = 38.5%)
According to Stars PR, "Dallas has not lost a game in regulation at home against the Edmonton Oilers since Dec. 8, 2006. In 10 home games since then, the Stars have earned a 9-0-1 record outscoring them 39-22 in that span. The Stars have a four-game winning streak against them at home."
Rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the big story for the Oilers right now. He was injured against the Blackhawks Monday night, suffering a separated shoulder and could miss three to four weeks because of it.
When asked about him Oilers head coach Tom Renney said recently: "What will I miss most about not having him? Everything. He's a great player, his style of playing is infectious. He runs our power play."
The rookie scored the Oilers' lone goal against the Stars in the team's first meeting on one SOG, recording a -1 on the night. He wears #93 to remind us all that was the year he was born, and that we're all old.
Nikolai Khabibulin is forever young and remains this team's number one goaltender. He's 11-11-3 with a .922 save percentage and a 2.33 GAA, though he's largely slave to the play in front of him this season.
The Oiler lineup as of late resembles something like this...
Hall, Eberle, Hall, Hemsky, Gagne... their lineup has offensive talent to be sure. It's the defense that hinders them, and you can read a rather harsh opinion on that from Edmonton blogger/columnist David Staples here at the Edmonton Journal.