NHL Preview: Dallas Stars vs. Edmonton Oilers

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers (4-3-2) are starting to sink and tonight’s matchup against the Dallas Stars (4-5-1) at Rexall Place could prolong their misery. For years the Stars have owned the Oilers, whether they’ve played at home or in Edmonton, and they currently have won four straight versus the Oilers and nine of ten overall, all in regulation.

Edmonton is going to have their work cut out for them. They will likely be facing Kari Lehtonen in net, who is 7-2-0 with a 2.12 GAA for his career against Edmonton. The Oilers are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have not been able to score more than two goals in any of their last four games. This does not bode well for a squad that has been held to one goal in each of its past two matchups with Dallas. The Oilers are averaging less than 25 shots per game and have been outshot by their opponents in six consecutive games.

Adding to the trouble is their injury situation. Some reports are suggesting that Shawn Horcoff could be out for up to a month with a broken knuckle, while Eric Belanger, Mark Fistric and Ryan Jones continue to nurse injuries of their own. When you take away the Oilers’ only effective faceoff takers and two of their grittier, more active players, right before a matchup against the Stars, who are consistently one of the toughest teams in the league, you are begging for trouble. This is despite the Stars being a team that is scoring less than two goals per game and has only scored on 2 of their last 29 power plays.

Special teams could be a difference-maker here, but it’s not a sure thing. Edmonton ranks third on the power play (28.6%) while Dallas ranks 26th (12.1%), but the Stars (11th, 84%) are much closer to the Oilers (sixth, 88.6%) in terms of penalty kill effectiveness, so it is possible both teams will be able to negate the other’s power play chances. If that happens and the Oilers are left to the 5-on-5 game, they could be in trouble as they rank near the bottom of the league in even-strength scoring and are being outscored on the 5-on-5 by an average of two to one.

Add all of this up and you have the potential for a four-game losing streak in Edmonton. Even goaltender Devan Dubnyk‘s sub-two GAA in his past six games might not be enough to save this team from another loss to the Stars.

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