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Gameday: Thrashers Welcome Edmonton Oilers to Philips

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Atlanta Thrashers Edmonton Oilers
Philips Arena
2:00 PM
Radio: 680 the FAN
SBNation: Game page, The Copper & Blue
Johan Hedberg
Nikolai Khabibulin
(3-1-0, .917% 2.77) (7-8-1, .907 3.11)

Max says "Jump for notes!"

Oilers Notes

Edmonton is sitting fourth in the Northwest (11th in the Western Conference), nine points behind division leader Colorado and looking to break a 2 game losing streak.

Last Game: 3-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabres. Edmonton was coming off a hard-fought loss to Ottawa, and kept pace with the Sabres deep into the third before Jochen Hecht's empty-netter sealed the win. The Oilers started strong with a 6-3 record, but are 2-7-1 over their last ten games. the biggest difference between those two stretches has been offensive production: they've watched their goals per game drop from 4 GPG over the first nine games to just 2 GPG over the last ten.

Road Trip:
The Oilers are 2-7 on the year, 1-2 so far on this 5 game roadie.

Special Teams: PP - 22.37% (9th), PK - 81.61% (13th)

Who to Watch Out For:
Dustin Penner is Edmonton's leader in most all offensive categories, including nose hair (11-11-22, +9). He's currently tied for 3rd in the NHL for even strength points (14).

Speaking of Injuries: The Oilers have been a walking M*A*S*H unit lately - as of Saturday they have 10 players injured, with 5 on Injured Reserve. Sheldon Souray may re-enter the lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion back on October 8th.

Good Blogs: The Copper & Blue, Lowetide, Irreverent Oiler Fans. Any of these Edmonton guys are great bloggers - serious hockey fans who would probably never drop a musty old Bob Uecker reference.

Thrashers Notes

Atlanta is third in the Southeast (9th in the Eastern Conference), also nine points behind division leader Washington but with four games in hand. The Thrashers have won three straight, with the last two coming at home.

Last Game: A 7-0 disassembling of the Los Angeles Kings. The Thrashers took their mongoosing style to the Kings hard and fast, and it paid off. Nine different Thrashers found their way to the scoresheet, with four having multi-point nights. Look for more of the same against an injury-depleted Oilers lineup.

Homestand: After starting a dismal 1-4 at home, the Thrashers have won their last two in Philips. This is game two of a five game stand, their longest so far this year.

Special Teams: PP - 24.6% (5th), PK - 83.3% (8th)

Who to Watch Out For: Half the team. Zach Bogosian leads the league in goals by defensemen (7). Tobias Enstrom is tied for 7th in points by defensemen. Rich Peverley looks to be the focal point of some kind of cult (I think our their mantra is "waiver-wire, waiver-wire..."). Evander Kane's is tied for third on the rookie scoring list with 11 points. Ilya Kovalchuk is tied for first in shooting percentage with 33.3%. That's right, one out of every three shots has been a goal. If you happen upon Nik Antropov and you'd like to find the puck, check behind you, because he's probably already passed it to someone else who has just scored (he's 5th overall in assists, btw). Max Afinogenov is playing with a vitality not seen in quite a while. And talk about secondary scoring: Todd White is... um... well... Slava Kozlov is really....having... yea. That's why we have defensemen. Moving on.

Speaking of Scary Stats:
the Thrashers are 1-5 after a one day break between games. This ridiculous NHL schedule has done no one in Atlanta any favors so far.

Atlanta Injuries:
Bryan Little is slated to miss todays game with a groin injury, and Boris Valabik is still recovering from ankle surgery.

Did You Know: The Thrashers current point percentage (.594) projects them to have 97 points by the end of the season?

Parting Shot: From the Thrashers main site, reason #23,985 to love Ilya Kovalchuk.

On Antropov not scoring but having 16 assists:

"That's why he's here- to set me up."

On Afinogenov's play:

"Max seems like he's got a second life in hockey. In Buffalo he just take a beating from the coach, and was told stuff and they bench him. You can't do that to those kind of players. He's one of the hardest working I ever see. Off the ice he's in the gym every day and he's preparing himself. Johnny trusts him and put him in key situations. He feels more comfortable and he gives you results... He's every day, he's smiling, and that's the most important thing. In Buffalo you can't smile. If you smile you sit on the bench."

On Afinogenov's chances of making the Russian Olympic team:

"He was in the training camp so everybody's got a chance. If he's going to play the same way, and I'm going to play the same way, hopefully we're both going to go. And maybe we bring Kozzie."