Better know an Opponent: The Edmonton Oilers
Notable wins: at Anaheim, at Philadelphia, Calgary
Notable losses: at Nashville, Boston
Last game: 5-4 loss last night in Columbus...We watched a little of this back and forth battle; Rick Nash is a monster but Edmonton played a very free skating and lax defensive game
Statistical star: Ales Hemsky [3 goals and 9 assists in 12 games]
Disappointment so far: It’s tempting to go with 19 year old sophomore sensation Sam Gagner here [0 g, 2 a, -2 in 11 games] but we’ll give the honor to Brooks Orpik’s old buddy Erik Cole [2g, 1a, -4, 23 PIMs]
Notable Notes: The Oilers given up 36 goals (3.00 a game) and only have scored 30 goals (2.50/game)….They’ve also only played 3 home games compared to tonight’s 10th road game and after tonight they still have two more games on the East coast…Finally, since starting the season 4-0, Edmonton’s only won two games since Oct 18th.
Whew, what's seemed like forever but we finally have a Penguins game to discuss. The Pens layoff after a 1-2-1 west coast swing came at a good time, as dinged up players got a chance to rest. Pascal Dupuis is slotted to get on the 2nd line with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora, while if Ruslan Fedotenko can go it’ll appear he’ll be on the 3rd line with Jordan Staal and Tyler F. Kennedy.
It’ll be interesting to see how this relatively long regular season layoff effects the Penguins; a team that really has only put in one sixty minute effort all season. Will they be rusty or will the couple extra days of practice have helped breed a little more familiarity, especially between sniper Miroslav Satan and Mr. Deadwood himself, Sidney Crosby.
TST Opposing Player to Watch: Sheldon Souray
--The Oilers have a great “kid line” including Gagner and Andrew Cogliano; two very shifty, fast offensive players. Hemsky is always a guy who can burn a defense too with speed or precision passing. But the guy who always catches our eye is Souray. It’s hard to differentiate the speed of most NHL players slapshots, since they’re all big boys wielding cutting-edge sticks that can whip pucks at the net at very high velocities. But Souray’s shot, even to the naked eye, just appears to be a notch or two harder than everyone else’s in game situations. Souray already has 30 shots for the season on goal. Last night in the game we watched he was unleashing shots left and right, 11 in total. But of those eleven 3 missed the net and 4 were blocked. Souray will shoot when he doesn’t have lanes to do so for those unfortunate defensive players out there. You have to get the feeling a guy like Rob Scuderi is going to earn his paycheck tonight in a painful way.
TST Homeboy of the Game: Maxime Talbot
--It’s kind of a cop-out just to go with Crosby or Malkin every game, so tonight we’ll shine the spotlight on another superstar, your friend and ours Max Talbot. Max is set to join Sid and Satan on the 1st line, a position he looked comfortable in when he got bumped up last game and scored a goal. Pair Talbot’s speed and determination with Crosby’s passing abilities and the potential for Satan leaving a rebound and it seems certain that Talbot (or any other winger on this line) ought to get one or two dynamite scoring chances a game…Then comes the execution, so we’ll see if Talbot has it in him tonight to hold up his end of the deal.