Blues get McDonald back for game against Oilers
Friday, 02.04.2011 / 7:00 PMOILERS (15-27-8) at BLUES (22-20-7)
TV -- SNET-West (HD); FS-Midwest (HD)
Edmonton 2-7-1; St. Louis 2-7-1
Season series --
This is the second of four games this season. The Oilers took the first meeting with a 2-1 overtime win at Edmonton on Dec. 4. Rookie Taylor Hall
tallied in the extra period.
Big story --
Both teams have struggled recently, as the Blues return from the All-Star break seeking to snap a four-game losing streak and the Oilers are looking to avoid losing three in a row. But the Blues will get some help on the offensive side, as center Andy McDonald
(17 points in 25 games) has been cleared to play after missing the last 24 games due to a concussion suffered in the clubs' last meeting.
Edmonton currently resides in last place in the Western Conference with 38 points and will need to play much better hockey if it is going to catch up to Blue Jackets or Blues, who both sit right above with 51 points each. But if the Oilers remain in the cellar, they will no doubt be able to improve on an already young and talented squad by getting a shot at drafting one of the top prospects for 2011.
The Oilers' first-round draft picks from the last three years are all among the 2010-11 team scoring leaders. 2010 pick Hall is second on the club with 31 points, followed by 2008 choice Jordan Eberle
(sixth with 23 points) and 2009 first-round selection Magnus Paajarvi
, who is seventh on the team with 20 points through 48 games.
St. Louis has a tough hill to climb if it hopes to return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, but it should benefit from being the best-rested club in the West coming out of the All-Star break -- the Blues had a full nine days off due to the postponement of its Feb. 1 game at Colorado.
McDonald should help provide an offensive spark, while the return of defenseman Barret Jackman
from a nagging lower-body injury strengthens the blue line.
Who's hot --
Paajarvi scored the lone goal in Edmonton's 3-1 loss to the Kings on Wednesday and now has 3 goals and 5 points in his last seven games. … Center Patrik Berglund
has reached the scoresheet in six of his last seven games for St. Louis, tallying 3 goals and 4 assists over that span.
Injury report --
Eberle (ankle) and Gilbert Brule
(upper body) remain day-to-day for Edmonton, while Ryan Whitney
, the Oilers' best defenseman, is out for the season with a knee injury. … Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo
has missed the last four games for the Blues with an eye injury and the club has not yet provided a timetable for his return.
Stat pack --
The special teams for Edmonton this season hasn't really been too special at all, as the power-play unit is last in the West at 12.5 percent and its penalty-killing team is at the bottom of the NHL at 73.4 percent.
Puck drop --
Hockey players are some of the toughest athletes out there, but an eye injury will lead to some of them counting their blessings. Colaiacovo spoke to the club's website reporter, Chris Pinkert, on Thursday to share his thoughts about getting hit in the eye with a puck on Jan. 18 vs. Los Angeles.
"Really scary moment for me, it really made me appreciate the gift of having two eyes," Colaiacovo said.