Edmonton enters tonight’s game against a streaking St. Louis Blues team. Since firing Head Coach Davis Payne the team has gone 21-5-6 under Ken Hitchcock. They are within two points of the NHL leading New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks with 60 points. Needless to say Hitchcock has instilled a new mentality within the team. When opponents are asked about what makes the Blues so difficult to play against, a common theme is that the team is very positionally sound, and are always in the right place at the right time. If that isn’t troubling enough for Edmonton Oilers fans, St. Louis’s 19-3-3 home record will cause the anxiety to go up. It’s clear that in this game, in any game, the Edmonton Oilers are underdogs.
St. Louis’s lines:
Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barrett Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russel-Roman Polak
David Backes-David Perron-Chris Stewart
Matt D’Agostini-Patrick Berglund-TJ Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka-Jason Arnott-Jamie Langenbrunner
BJ Crombeen-Scott Nichol-Ryan Reaves
Edmonton’s lines have yet to be released. We should expect Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth to play over 20 minutes, and Ales Hemsky to play close to that mark as well.
Statistically the Blues own this matchup. They are 6-0-1 in January while the Oilers are 2-5-1, while the Blues are looking to extend a modest two game winning streak. The Oilers are in perhaps the lowest point of their season, following up a great home effort versus Los Angeles with a disasterous game against Columbus. Before LA they lost to Anaheim 5-0. Could another poor effort tonight finally lead to some changes in the roster? Steve Tambellini is the only one that can answer that question. Bodog.ca has the Oilers paying out at 3.45-1 should they somehow eek out a victory. The smart money tonight goes to the home warriors in St. Louis, who will defend the Scottrade Center again.
Follow Salim Valji on Twitter