Scouting Report: Edmonton Oilers

BY foxsports • December 16, 2010

By Eric Smith
Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010

The Columbus Blue Jackets invade snowy Edmonton on Thursday to take on an Oilers team that has lost three of its past four.

The Oilers are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in which Edmonton gave up two goals on five power-play opportunities. The Oilers need look no further for an explanation for their last-place standing in the Western Conference.

Edmonton has the worst penalty kill in the NHL with a 71.3 percent kill rate; the Oilers have given up 33 power-play goals. And goalie Nikolai Khabibulin hasn't been much help, recording a 3.49 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.

Edmonton's problems don't end there, though. The Oilers offense has stagnated recently, including only a 12-shot effort Sunday in a 2-1 loss against Vancouver. A big reason has been the absence of two of their biggest guns, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. Hemsky will be out until Jan 1 with a groin injury and Horcoff until mid-February with a knee injury.

The Oilers are leaning heavily on their young upcoming stars in Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Hall has figured out how to score in the NHL. After scoring the first goal of his career against the Blue Jackets on Oct. 28, he now leads the team with 10. But Eberle has been the Oilers' only scoring threat lately: He has produced the only two goals they've scored in their past two games.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have manged only two points, in overtime losses, in their past two games on this western Canada trip. To beat the Oilers on Thursday, they must stick to these keys to the game.

1. Attack: The Oilers are young and rebuilding. And now, because of injuries to key players like Horcoff, their captain, they are looking for answers from inexperienced players. The Jackets shouldn't give them any time to figure it out Thursday and, thus, should take a high-pressure approach on the forecheck and by blistering pucks in high amounts at the net.

2. Moreau over: Ethan Moreau makes his first return to Edmonton since being waived by the Oilers, so it's likely he will try to make a statement to his former organization. Moreau can't let his emotion get the best of him, and he needs to play within himself. But a

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