Friday, December 09, 2011

Game Day: Avalanche vs Oilers

Colorado (13-15-1) vs Edmonton (13-12-3)

Time:      7:30pm
Where:   Rexall Place
Watch:    TSN

Listen:    630 Ched

Projected Line Combinations

Eberle - Nugent-Hopkins - Gagner
Hemsky - Horcoff - Smyth 

Eager - Belanger - Jones
Paajarvi - Lander - Petrell

Coming off their worst performance of the season, the Oilers coaching staff has decided to change things up. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle will be paired with a resurgent Sam Gagner. While the three vets, Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky, will be reunited and considering those three are coming off their worst individual performances of the season, they better bring against the Avs.

After playing his best game of the year, winger Ben Eager has been bumped to the third line. He will skate alongside Eric Belanger and Ryan Jones, in what many felt would have been the Oilers actual fourth line to start this season. The pre-season injury to Gagner changed all that but we now get the chance to see the trio in action.

That leaves an interesting fourth line of Petrell - Lander - Paajarvi. The two Swedes and the feisty Finn could be a solid combination but is far from your traditional energy line. That side of the game will be left up to Eager and his linemates.

Defence Pairings

Gilbert - Smid
Whitney - Petry 
Teubert- Peckham 

Andy Sutton has been suspended indefinitely, as he awaits the forthcoming suspension from the league. With Sutton just coming off a five game suspension, for hitting Colorado rookie Gabriel Landeskog, it would surprise no one if they league throws the book at the hulking defenceman. When you consider his history along with the fact that he was just suspended for a similar play, Sutton is likely looking at another lengthy trip to the sidelines. If I were to guess, I think Sutton gets somewhere between five to ten games.

With Sutton out, youngster Colten Teubert will draw back in. Teubert struggled at times when he has been in the lineup but he does not look out of place on the Oilers blueline. He understands his role, tries to keep his game simple and focuses on taking the body. While Teubert still needs to develop his game, Edmonton appears to have a keeper in the former Los Angeles Kings first rounder.

The club will need more from their top two pairings, as both were poor against Carolina on Wednesday. Gilbert and Smid are tiring. Unfortunately, Ryan Whitney's game is nowhere near it's "A" level so he can't take on anymore minutes and Petry is a game by game surprise. Some nights he look s great, while other nights he looks as though he still belongs in Oklahoma City.


Nikolai Khabibulin

After another less then stellar performance from Devan Dubnyk, on Wednesday night, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if Khabibulin plays both ends of this weekends back-to back games. If the veteran netminder is on his game against the Avs, I fully expect to see him in goal Saturday night against the Flames. Khabby hasn't played since last Saturday and Edmonton has another lengthy break after the Calgary game. He is well rested so I can't see him playing back-to-back games being an issue. Edmonton needs to turn things around and they'll do it with their number one guy in the nets.

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