NHL Preview: Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers

By brianpalmer
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

So with the visiting Colorado Avalanche coming to town to play the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, what do you think the chances are that these teams will be talking trade? The Ryan O’Reilly circus has been ramping up the intrigue in the past couple weeks, and the Oilers aren’t very deep at the center position, so Oilers GM Steve Tambellini will certainly be trying to get Avalanche GM Greg Sherman‘s thoughts on a deal this weekend, even if it’s simply to try and lay groundwork for a deal that’s still a couple months away.

But when that’s not going on this weekend, two of the NHL‘s lowest-scoring teams will be going at it on the ice. Edmonton is 27th in goals scored with 29, while Colorado is 29th with 27. Talk about a couple of anemic offenses. Edmonton can’t seem to get out of their own way when they are playing even-strength hockey, ranking near the bottom of the league in goals scored in that department, and yet they are dominant on special teams ranking in the top 8 in both power play and shorthanded goals scored. This is a team that desperately needs to become more dynamic on offense if they don’t want to find themselves dead in the water by the end of the month. For a team that’s only two points out of 8th in the West and yet is only three points from being tied for last, there is surprisingly little urgency coming from this club.

The Avalanche are looking to turn a corner themselves. By defeating the Minnesota Wild in a shootout 4-3 on Valentine’s Day, they ended a three-game losing streak and will be looking to build momentum as they head to Edmonton tonight. They continue to miss Gabriel Landeskog‘s presence in the lineup, O’Reilly’s absence isn’t helping things either, and they are a thin team all around in terms of depth, but they’re fighting and playing hard.

These are very similar teams on very similar paths. They have been decimated by injuries, their goaltenders are standing on their heads to make up for their numerous defensive shortcomings, and both offenses have been scuffling. The home team has won both games in the season series so far, so with Edmonton being at home and coming off what will be their longest rest of the season–four days–this could be just what the Oilers need to try and get on the right track again.

Look for Devan Dubnyk to be key, as usual, to Edmonton’s chances of winning as they try to break a slide that has seen them lose six of seven. It will also be interesting to see whether their power play–which has cooled dramatically in going 3 for their last 31 during these past seven games–can start scoring again. Expect another loss for the Oilers if they can’t succeed on special teams.

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