Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oil Notes: Khabibulin set to return to Oilers lineup

With the Edmonton Oilers decision to place netminder Yann Danis on waivers Tuesday morning, one can safely assume that veteran Nikolai Khabibulin is ready to make his 2013 debut. With the Oilers in the midst of a four game in six night stretch, which includes a three game in four night road swing, the return of the Russian netminder could not have come at a better time.

While he did take part in the Oilers brief training camp, Khabibulin's next start will be his first since March 30, 2012. Definitely a long time between starts and word is Edmonton plans on bringing Danis to Phoenix, as a safety precaution, but all signs are pointing to the forty year old making his first start against the San Jose Sharks or Colorado Avalanche.

Smart money would be on Khabibulin getting the nod against the Sharks, being the back half of back-to-back games and against arguably the hottest team in the NHL. One would think, the Oilers would be looking to not only tighten things up for their goaltender but also to prove that last week's six goal first period shellacking, at the hands of Patrick Marleau and company, was nothing more than a one-off.

The former ninth round pick of the Winnipeg Jets would likely love to see a ton of rubber and San Jose would be more than willing to oblige on that front. That being said, Ralph Krueger may very well decide to go with Devan Dubnyk in both games, leaving Khabibulin to start on Saturday afternoon in Colorado.

Regardless of which game, the seventeen year vet has to get into one of these games on their current three game road swing. Edmonton will definitely need a well rested Dubnyk to face the visiting Vancouver Canucks in their first game back on Monday night, which has traditionally been a struggle for the Oilers.

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