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Oilers view latest game vs. Blackhawks as fresh start

by Brian Hedger /

BLACKHAWKS (27-12-2) at OILERS (9-23-9)


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers consider themselves a different team than the one that lost to the Chicago Blackhawks 7-1 on Nov. 22.

With a new coach, Todd Nelson, and a number of new players in the lineup, Edmonton (9-23-9) is going into its game against Chicago (27-12-2) on Friday with a different mindset.

"I don't think it matters, we've moved on from there," Nelson said. "We do have some new faces and it's a new group, so it's a fresh start for us."

The Oilers have earned at least a point in four of their past five games (2-1-2) since Nelson took over exclusively, replacing Dallas Eakins.

Edmonton was in a position to earn at least another point Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings prior to right wing Benoit Pouliot being assessed a double-minor for spearing late in the game. Detroit took advantage of the power play to score two goals in the final 36 seconds for a 4-2 win.

Pouliot owned up to his mistake and will be back in the lineup against Chicago. Nelson did not have any intentions of reprimanding Pouliot by taking him out of lineup.

"I think [Pouliot] was pretty hard on himself about the situation," Nelson said. "It's like if somebody turns over the puck and throws a [gift] in the slot, everybody in the hockey world knows it's not the right thing to do, including that player. So if you go down and say, 'Don't do that again,' I don't think that's going to carry a lot of weight. You talk about it. Obviously you have to be smarter about it in those situations and [Pouliot] knows that."

The Oilers have not defeated Chicago in their past five games, dating to the 2012-13 season.

The Blackhawks won 4-2 at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and did not have a morning skate Friday.

"They're a very good hockey team, an experienced hockey team, they're never out of a game," Nelson said. "Last night they found a way to win. It's a hockey team that we have to play a full 60 minutes, 65 if it takes. They have a lot of experience and they know if they play the game the right way they're going to have a chance to win."

Forward Marian Hossa had one goal and three assists in the 7-1 win against Edmonton in November. Forward Jonathan Toews scored two goals.

"I think we're a different team now," Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry said. "They are a skilled team and a team that has a lot of experience. But we've been playing better as of late so it's something that we have to focus on. Play the game that we've been playing in our last five or six games. If we rely on our system we'll be in a good position."

Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for Edmonton. Goalie Antti Raanta is expected to start for the Blackhawks in the second of back-to-back games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Brad Richards - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Teuvo Teravainen - Andrew Shaw

Daniel Carcillo - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Michal Rozsival - David Rundblad

Antti Raanta

Corey Crawford

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom, Tim Erixon

Injured: Trevor Van Riemsdyk (patella fracture), Kris Versteeg (upper body).


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot - Derek Roy - Teddy Purcell

Matt Fraser - Anton Lander - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Rob Klinkhammer

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Nikita Nikitin - Justin Schultz

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Keith Aulie

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen)

Status report: Aulie has not played since serving a two-game suspension. He will be a healthy scratch Friday for the second consecutive game. … Raanta has not played in Chicago's past six games.

Who's hot: Scrivens earned at least a point in his past four starts (2-0-2). ... Eberle scored three goals in his past two games. He has four goals and an assist in his past four games. … Bickell scored two goals in the win against Minnesota. He has four goals in his past five games.

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