Oilers seek to play spoilers Vs. Blues

St. Louis Blues Jay McClement and Edmonton Oilers Kurtis Foster fight for the puck during the first...

St. Louis Blues Jay McClement and Edmonton Oilers Kurtis Foster fight for the puck during the first period of their NHL hockey game in St. Louis, Missouri, February 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Sarah Conard)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:16 PM ET

It’s no secret that misery loves company, just like it’s no secret that the Edmonton Oilers want to drag as many teams into the Heartbreak Hotel with them as possible.

They can go a long way toward adding St. Louis to the rooming list tonight with a win over the slumping Blues, who are seven points below the playoff cutline and running out of time.

The Blues, who’ve lost three in a row, are playing their second game in as many nights after losing 3-2 in Vancouver Thursday. A loss to the 30th place Oilers - who’ve won four of their last five - would almost be a death blow.

St. Louis tends to give the Oilers all kinds of trouble, though. The Blues won four of their last five games with Edmonton, including a 5-3 decision before the All-Star break in which they took it to the Oilers physically.

“They’re a big, strong, hard, heavy team,” said Oilers coach Tm Renney. “We have to make sure we use our tenacity and our speed to get in on the forecheck and try to bottle them up if we can, early.”

•Edmonton will be without netminder Nikolai Khabibulin, who caught an ice chip in the eye during practice on Monday. Khabibulin played on Tuesday, but eye doctors took a look and decided he should sit.

“It was in a drill, a shot came in, the skater went to the net and in swinging at the puck or stopping or whatever, ice chips flew up,” said Renney. “There was an issue there with some bleeding and they decided to hold him out.”

With Khabibulin on IR, the Oilers called up Martin Gerber from Oklahoma City.

•Gilbert Brule, who hasn’t played since Jan. 6, has been healthy for two weeks but can’t get his foot in the lineup. With Edmonton winning four of its last five, Renney’s been reluctant to make changes.

Maybe tonight?

“He’s ready to go if I want to use him,” said Renney, who’ll be able to add him to the roster without demoting anyone now that Taylor Chorney is going on IR with a knee injury. “The numbers all fit it’s just a matter of when I want to get him in.”

They won’t have to ask him twice.

“He’s got a great attitude,” said Renney. “He works hard and he’s kept his spirits about him, which is not easy when you’re not playing. We can’t wait much longer in fairness to him and us. We’ll make a game time decision.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/TYCHKOWSKI


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