G53: Blackhawks @ Oilers - Klefbom Returns
Hey everyone, it's been a whirlwind of a few days for me. Will be back to posting more regular blogs.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, that is what the Edmonton Oilers managed to do twice within a 24 hour period. Edmonton dominated 5 on 5 play against the Philadelphia Flyers, but dumb penalties and a horrible PK resulted in the game going to overtime, where Kris Russell did a bonehead move resulting in an OT loss.
Then in Montreal, the Oilers decided to mix things up...by controlling play at 5 on 5 but taking dumb penalties, resulting in the game going into overtime where Kris Russell did a dumb thing resulting in an Oilers loss.
With the end of the season creeping closer and closer, and the Bettman Loser Point Era, a team like Edmonton fighting to make the playoffs cannot afford to leave points on the board like that.
The good news for Edmonton is tonight marks the return of Oscar Klefbom into the lineup. Klefbom has been out months with a broken finger and was set to play over the weekend before injuring it again in practice. Klefbom will start tonight on a line with his partner Adam Larsson, but will not take over the 1st PP unit.
The Oilers now have a logjam in the bottom pairings, making the acquisitions of Brandon Manning and Alex Petrovic even more strange. Klefbom helps push the ice-time down for a number of these players, however his injury is still fresh and I believe they are bringing him into the lineup now because their playoff chances are slowly slipping away.
4 KEYS TO VICTORY
1) Discipline. I've been harping on the Oilers for their penalty killing for long enough to realize they aren't going to do anything different to fix it. Since they can't produce a proper PK unit, the least they can do is avoid the dumb penalties. There is no reason for some of the plays that guys like Lucic and Kassian have made in the past couple of games. These guys aren't proving their physical dominance. The other team is laughing and saying "thank you very much" every time they do it.
2) The Red Hot Blackhawks The Blackhawks are one of 3 teams that are lower than Edmonton in the Western Conference. The Hawks are currently on a 4 game winning streak...coming off of a 5 game losing streak. Bad teams will have good runs but are still bad teams. The Oilers should be able to play like the better team tonight.
3) The Drake Returns. Drake Caggiula will play his first game against his old team tonight. Caggiula was a polarizing player in Edmonton, and many, including myself felt much maligned about the decently skilled winger earning top minutes over certain other players. Nevertheless, Caggiula did provide some secondary scoring in Edmonton and has started to provide Chicago with a bit of the same. He will be on a top line with Toews and Kane tonight.
4) Protecting Klefbom. Having Klefbom back is a huge boon for the Oilers, however Hitch cannot afford to pile the minutes on Edmonton's #1 just yet. Klef should be used at 5 on 5, sparingly on the PP and not at all on the PK for the first few games while he gets back into game form. Re-injuring a finger is one of the easiest things to do and one that could officially signal the end of the Oilers season.