After a much-needed five days off due to the NHL all-star break, the Edmonton Oilers return to action tonight against the San Jose Sharks.
Edmontons last game before the break was a 4-0 loss at home to the Calgary Flames but overall theyve played well in the month of January with a record of 5-3-2. However, they went into the break in fifth place in the Northwest Division and remain four points back of Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
San Jose has played very well of late with only two losses in their last nine games. One of those losses was a 3-2 defeat on home ice at the hands of the Oilers back on January 10. The Sharks also lost their last game before the all-star break, 1-0 at home to St. Louis.
OILERS TO WATCH: Shawn Horcoff
had a four-game scoring streak snapped on Friday. He had two goals and three assists for five points during the streak. Horcoff had two other four-game scoring streaks earlier this season Having participated in the NHL All-Star Week in Dallas, Ryan Smyth
and Ladislav Smid
both might have a little extra jump early on since the rest of the Oilers didnt skate until yesterday. Smyth played in Wednesdays All-Star Game and Smid was a part of Tuesdays YoungStars Game.
SHARKS TO WATCH: After having won the leagues goal-scoring title last season, its been a difficult season for Sharks winger Jonathan Cheechoo. He had 56 goals in 2005-06 but had only 16 through 42 games this year The Sharks have been getting some scoring from unlikely sources, however. Ryane Clowe has 12 goals through 24 games. Nine of Clowes 12 goals have come in his last eight games following his return from injury on January 4. Fellow rookie Joe Pavelski has nine goals in 26 outings Vesa Toskala has been almost unbeatable this season for the Sharks. He has a 20-6-0 record, which is the best winning percentage of any goaltender in the NHL.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) is doubtful. Steve Staios (knee) is questionable. Jarret Stoll (fractured nose) is questionable; San Jose – Scott Parker (ankle) is doubtful. Kyle McLaren (knee) is questionable. Marcel Goc (back) is questionable.LINEUP UPDATE (2:46 PM):
Steve Staios is likely to return soon but will probably not play tonight. Coach MacTavish noted that he will return Saturday or Wednesday. Jarret Stoll will be back in the lineup tonight and Dwayne Roloson is starting in goal.OILERS' STARS RETURN AFTER BREAK: Ryan Smyth
and Ladislav Smid
return to the Oilers following the 55th NHL All-Star Game in Dallas. Smyth, making his first NHL All-Star Game appearance, scored an assist in helping the Western Conference defeat the Eastern Conference 12-9. Smid skated for the YoungStars West Team in the NHL YoungStars Game on Jan. 23 and tallied an assist in a 9-8 loss to the YoungStars East Team. Smyth was -2 with three shots on goal and two takeaways in 16:27 minutes of ice time in All-Star debut. Smid played 12:57 and was -3.
FAST FACTS: Theres a good chance that tonights game will not be going to overtime if the San Jose Sharks have anything to say about it. In fact, San Jose has only had one overtime game in 2006-07 – a season-opening 5-4 win over St. Louis. Their current stretch of 47 straight games without going to OT is an NHL record, eclipsing the 1996-97 Toronto Maple Leafs who went 41 in a row without playing overtime Since December 1, 2005 Joe Thornton has more points than any other player in the NHL at 152. Next on the list is Alexander Ovechkin at 145 followed by Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby at 143.