SUN Hockey Pool

Win would be nice send-off for road trip

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Facing the start of a gruelling road trip tomorrow that could make or break their season, the Edmonton Oilers know the importance of tonight's clash with the Atlanta Thrashers at Rexall Place.

"We need to get two points and go to the road with momentum," said Oilers defenceman Jason Smith.

The Oilers will make stops in seven cities - including Buffalo and Minnesota, the team they're chasing for the final playoff spot - over 14 days before returning home on Feb. 26, the day before the trade deadline.

Edmonton is now eight points behind Minnesota after the Wild beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 last night.

SHORT HITS: Joffrey Lupul is coming very close to uncharted territory.

Another bad night at the office could drop Lupul to minus-17, a new low this season for the struggling forward.

At the moment, Lupul is minus-15, the second-lowest rated forward on the club.

"He really has to continue working on being a little better with his stick, hunting down pucks and protecting the puck," said Oilers assistant coach Craig Simpson.

"His confidence is going to come out of continuing to work on the things of getting to the net, protecting the puck and getting to those tough areas."

NO BARGAIN: At $4.25 million US, Bobby Holik has just 22 points as a fourth-line centre for the Thrashers.


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