NHL Preview – Minnesota Wild vs Edmonton Oilers

This evening we have a Western inter-division tilt as the surging Minnesota Wild close their tour of the Great White North, seeking to leave Canada with a win under their belts against the lowly Edmonton Oilers.

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The turning of the New Year has been incredibly welcome by the Minnesota Wild, whom after an incredibly woeful start after coming off a playoff campaign, they have finally started to find their feet. This couldn’t be truer as of late, as they’ve won 9 of their last 11 games. The Wild have been an average away outfit this season, earning 13 wins from 29 games (19th in the league), but again, recently, they’ve been good, winning 4 of their last 6 games on the road. They’re currently anchoring 17th in the league, 10th in the West, and 5th in the Central. These positions look bad, but this is primarily due to the bad start. They have games in hand on the rest of the conference, and only trail 3 points to a playoff spot, meaning playoff contention is still well within their range.

They will only be without one player tonight, Jared Spurgeon, which is a loss on the blueline but manageable, which was seen in their previous win against the Calgary Flames. Devan Dubnyk will get the much anticipated start between the posts tonight against his former team which lost faith in him, and I see that as a problem for the Oilers. Since being traded to the Wild earlier this season from the Coyotes, Dubnyk has been absolutely phenomenal, starting 14 games, winning 11 of them and losing one in overtime. His numbers are even more impressive with a meager 1.73 GAA and a .936 SV%. It’s easy to tell that this is a man on a mission, and I don’t expect him to let up tonight versus his former team. Minnesota have fared well against Pacific division opposition this season, winning 9 of their 16 games. The Wild have beat the Oilers in Edmonton once already this season, winning 2-1 just before their hot run in January.

It’s hard to get excited by the Oilers. It’s another season where they’re largely rotting at the bottom of the league and not doing much good for the careers of any of the bright young prospects they drafted. Oilers have 17 wins on the season, 10 of which came at home, but that is paired with their 18 losses. on home ice, making them the second worst home team in the league. They are 29th in the league, and currently the worst team in the West and the Pacific division. They have the last place Buffalo Sabres hot on their tail, sitting 6 points behind and 1 game in hand, but the Sabres have also started winning recently.

They look as if they have a few injury woes going forward as well, with top forwards and d-men Jeff Petry and Anton Lander going out during their previous game. Keith Aulie, Luke Gazdic and Rob Klinkhammer were all scratched last game and there’s been no words about them being brought back to the squad for the game against the Wild. Ben Scrivens gets the start tonight, and it’s a shame that Scrivens plays for the Oilers because he’s a talented tendie, but the defence in front of him are atrocious, which don’t do his numbers any justice. He has won only 11 of his 35 starts and has some of the league’s worst numbers, a 2.98 GAA and .896 SV%. Scrivens has never won against the Wild in his career, going 0-2, with a 3.50 GAA and a .870 SV%. The Oilers have only managed FOUR wins against Western opposition this season, and only ONE against teams in the Central division.

The numbers don’t lie in regards to how bad the Oilers are and definitely how bad they are against divisional opposition. They’re taking on a white hot Wild team who have won 8 of their last 10, and currently have the privilege of having one of the hottest goaltenders in the league protecting their net. The Oilers did good to get the win against the Bruins on Wednesday night, but going to overtime and having a twelve round shootout will usually make a team exhausted. The Wild will be expected to carry on their hot streak and pounce on this down-and-out Oilers team.


Categories: NHL, NHL Tips, Preview, USA Sports
Tags: nhl tip, sport

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