On paper, Chicago’s game tonight in Edmonton doesn’t look like a huge challenge, given the Oilers’ lousy home record (3-7-0) and the Hawks’ impressive road mark (7-3-1).
That said, Joel Quenneville refuses to take the Oilers lightly.
“Coming into this building is kind of scary, I know that they’ve had some success against us in here,” Quenneville said, as per NHL.com. “They’re playing well right now. They’re a dangerous team, they’re an attacking team and they’re dangerous off the rush.”
To their credit, the Oilers are playing well of late. They’ve won three straight, outscoring opponents by a combined 15-3 scoreline, and have won consecutive games at Rexall against Columbus (7-0) and Florida (4-1).
Two things stand out in particular. One is the play of Devan Dubnyk, who is 2-0-0 with a 0.50 GAA and .974 save percentage over his last two games, earning NHL third star of the week honors in the process.
The second is Edmonton’s power play. It’s been good throughout November (11-for-33, 33 percent) and downright scorching over the last two contests, going five-for-nine. That could spell trouble for a ‘Hawks team that, while successful in many facets, has struggled on the penalty kill this year, operating at a 72.5 percent clip — the second-worst mark in the NHL.
Quenneville said he definitely doesn’t want to be trading chances with the Oilers tonight.
“We have to be a little more patient with these guys, otherwise we get in a track meet and it seems like they’re better at it than we are,” he explained. “So we have to be smart and we have to be respectful of their skill and their speed and their quickness on the attack.”
In related news, the ‘Hawks will return forward Michal Handzus to the lineup for the first time in 14 games on Monday. He’s been sidelined with an upper-body injury, and may play on the wing as opposed to his usual center position.