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Desire to win hasn't gone from Oilers, Avalanche

Saturday, 03.19.2011 / 4:48 PM / NHL Insider

By Robin Brownlee - NHL.com Correspondent

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Desire to win hasn't gone from Oilers, Avalanche
The Oilers and Avalanche may be at the bottom of the League standings, but winning and pride remains important to both sides
EDMONTON -- While nobody is going to mistake Saturday's game between the 30th-place Edmonton Oilers and 29th-place Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place as a meeting of powerhouses, don't tell the players or the coaches there isn't anything at stake.

"We'll let the people who want to discuss that do that," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "That's their privilege. We're going to go try and win a hockey game.

"We're just going to go play. We want to win. That's what we're supposed to do and that's what we're going to try to do."

The Oilers, 0-4-1 in their last five games after a 3-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday, have already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche, winless in 10 straight and 14th in the conference, will join them if they lose in regulation Saturday.

"Colorado has a lot of pride, just like we do," said Oilers defenseman Kurtis Foster. "I think we all understand where we are in the standings, but we want to get wins.

"It's not about where we are in the standings or if we want to get the first or second pick (in the 2011 Entry Draft). It's not about that. You ask any player in here, any player in the League, they're not botching games just to get a pick. You want the guy beside you to know you're going to give it your best every night. We're out there to win."
 
Around the rink -- Colorado's 5-2 loss in Calgary on Thursday dropped them to 2-20-2 since Jan. 20. ... The Oilers have won three of four meetings in the season series and are 4-0-1 in their last five games against the Avalanche. ... With season-ending injuries to Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Whitney and Taylor Hall, rookie Jordan Eberle is Edmonton's leading active scorer with 36 points. ... Matt Duchene leads Colorado in scoring with 54 points and he's second with 22 goals. ... Colin Fraser took a shot in the right foot against Phoenix and will not play Saturday, so the Oilers' depleted forward lines have been juggled again. ... Colorado is will be without Milan Hejduk (shoulder) and Adam Foote (ankle). ... Devan Dubnyk is 2-0-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average against Colorado this season, but Nikolai Khabibulin will get the start.

Here are the likely forward lines and defense pairings for tonight's game between the Oilers and Avalanche:
 
EDMONTON
Matt Jones-Andrew Cogliano-Jordan Eberle
Magnus Paajarvi-Liam Reddox-Linus Omark
Alexandre Giroux-Ryan O'Marra-Teemu Hartikainen
Steve MacIntyre-Chris Vande Velde-Jason Strudwick
 
Ladislav Smid-Tom Gilbert
Jim Vandermeer-Jeff Petry
Theo Peckham-Kurtis Foster
 
Nikolai Khabibulin
Devan Dubnyk
 
COLORADO
Mark Olver-Matt Duchene-Daniel Winnik
Kevin Porter-Paul Stastny-David Jones
Cody McLeod-Ryan O'Reilly-Brandon Yip
Ryan Stoa-Philippe Dupuis-Jay McClement
 
John-Michael Liles-Erik Johnson
Jonas Holos-Ryan O'Byrne
Matt Hunwick-Ryan Wilson
 
Brian Elliott
Peter Budaj

Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff