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Oilers’ seesaw season continues

The seesaw goes up on one side, the seesaw goes down on the other. The Oilers gained a regulation win in Dallas for the first time in seven seasons, then they faltered defensively against the feisty St. Louis Blues, blowing a two-goal lead and losing 4-2.

Consistency has been an issue for the Oilers this season. They are constantly winning one game and then losing the next. In fact, only once this season have the Oilers won two games in a row: a convincing home win against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 28 and a hard-fought overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 30. At least for today, the Oilers hope the trend continues when they take on the Minnesota Wild tonight at the Xcel Energy Center.

But with 20 games already in the books for the Oilers, and because the season is shortened, the time is now for the team to start thinking about the playoffs and stringing together some wins to catch up with the teams ahead of them in the standings.

One of the teams the Oilers are trying to catch is the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are currently two points ahead of the Oilers and one point out of the final playoff spot. It goes without saying that tonight’s game is vitally important for both teams, so it should prove to be an exciting battle between two Northwest Division rivals.

Road games in Minnesota have been the black plague for the Oilers over the years. Last season, the Oilers snapped a 17-game winless streak at the Xcel Energy Center, a streak that dated back to Jan. 16, 2007. The Oilers have dropped 19 of their last 21 trips to Minnesota and they lost the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season at Rexall Place.

Oilers’ seesaw season continues
Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall, left, hits Minnesota Wild’s Mikael Granlund during NHL action in Edmonton February 21, 2013. Hall is questionable for tonight’s game in Minnesota.
(REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

Tonight may or may not be redemption time for the Wild as well, because it’s the first time these two teams will meet since Taylor Hall’s questionable centre-ice hit on Cal Clutterbuck.

Hall is questionable to play after he fell awkwardly into the boards in Friday’s game against the Blues and suffered a minor hamstring injury. Clutterbuck, on the other hand, has not returned to the Wild lineup since the hit from Hall and will not play in tonight’s game. If Hall does end up in the Oilers’ lineup tonight, he says he doesn’t want to fight.

“I honestly don’t know what to expect,” Hall revealed to the Edmonton Journal. “I don’t see myself having to fight. I don’t like fighting.”

Similarly, Wild tough-guy Zenon Konopka says he and his teammates won’t be hunting for Hall’s head if Hall is in the lineup.

“Let’s let the game play out,” said Konopka. “Our number-one priority is winning the game. Our number one priority is not getting Taylor Hall. We weren’t happy with the hit, but it’s a long season. I’ve seen all different scenarios after a suspension. Sometimes nothing happens. I’m sure it’ll be a pretty intense game.”

 

Evan Davits

Evan Davits

I grew up playing hockey on the roads, outdoor rinks, and ice surfaces of various arenas in Edmonton and around Northern Alberta. Now, I am a father of three and a journalism student at MacEwan University in Edmonton. My words are often brutally honest and critical; however, I have never been the type to shy away from sarcasm and humour.
Evan Davits
Evan Davits

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