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Oilers meet familiar face tonight

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers (6-2-0) attempt to hand the Anaheim Ducks (6-0-2) their first regulation loss of the 2006-07 season and in the process potentially move into a tie for first place in the Northwest Division with Minnesota.

Edmonton has won each of its last three games but is only 1-2-0 away from Rexall Place this season. Both of its losses came on the road and were by a 2-1 score to Calgary and Vancouver respectively.

Both of Anaheim's losses were at home and both came by way of the shootout in back-to-back games. The Ducks dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the NY Islanders on October 11 and then fell victim to the shootout mastery of the Dallas Stars on October 15.

OILERS TO WATCH: Oilers and Ducks fans alike will have an eye on Joffrey Lupul and Ladislav Smid in this game. Lupul has three goals and two assists for five points through eight games as an Oiler. The other component of the big trade this off-season was Smid and he has gotten better every game. Smid is tied for fifth on the team with a +4 rating and logged a season-high 17:13 of ice Monday against Phoenix.

DUCKS TO WATCH: Wearing the unfamiliar number 25 tonight will be a familiar face to Oilers fans, Chris Pronger. He is off to a bit of a slow start this season for Anaheim with a goal and three assists through eight games. His ice-time is also slightly below what would be expected at 26:53 a game but that could be attributed to Scott Niedermayer, who's logging 28:27 a night... Although Ilya Bryzgalov was the go-to guy in the playoffs last year, Jean-Sebastien Giguere has won back his starter's role in net. Giguere has started seven of Anaheim's eight games this year and has a 1.78 goals-against average and .941 save percentage to go with a 5-0-2 record.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out; Anaheim - no injuries to report.

FAST FACTS: The Arrowhead Pond is no more. The Anaheim Ducks now play out of the Honda Center... With 14 out of 16 possible points this season, the Ducks are off to the best start in franchise history... Anaheim is tied for second in the league for least goals allowed at 15. The Oilers are right behind them with 16 goals against.

With a 6-2-0 record to start the season, the Oilers have matched their best start since the 1987-88 campaign. They were also 6-2-0 to open 1987-88 but lost their ninth game - 5-0 to Quebec - to fall to 6-3-0.

A number of Oilers are near the league lead in a bunch of different categories. Roloson is 5th in wins (5), Sykora is 4th in points (13), Staios is 3rd in plus/minus (+7), Thoresen is 5th in rookie scoring (6 points) and Smid is 2nd in rookie plus/minus (+4).

After tonight's game, the Oilers travel to Phoenix for a rematch with the Coyotes Thursday night. That game can be seen on Molson Oilers PPV.
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