|The Oilers are set to fend off a hot Capitals team. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)
WASHINGTON - The Edmonton Oilers might want to substitute their hockey gloves for asbestos ones now that they’ve made the jump from Philadelphia’s frying pan to Washington’s fire.
Unlike the slumping Flyers, who’d lost four in a row before ending their slide at Edmonton’s expense on Tuesday, Wednesday’s opponent is heating up down the stretch.
The Caps are cooking, and looking to match their longest win streak of the season, six games, with a win over the Oilers.
“It’s going to be a good test, they’re a pretty similar team to Philadelphia,” said Edmonton captain Shawn Horcoff. “They have lots of skill and obviously they’re hungry, getting ready for the playoffs.”
The Oilers were shaking in their skates in the first period of their 4-1 loss in Philly. They were outshot 17-1 and if you count shots that were directed at the net (including blocked and shots wide), the total was 34-3. They can’t let that happen against Washington.
“We can’t come into this game licking our wounds from Tuesday night,” said Renney. “Let’s get out there and be pro-active and take our game to them.”
Edmonton’s first period will likely determine how the rest of the night turns out. The notoriously slow starters will need to generate some energy and momentum early to prevent Washington from jumping all over them like Philly did.
“We’re going to have to get off to a better start,” said Horcoff. “We feel if we can get off to a good start in the first period we’ll give ourselves a chance to win.”
It’s their one an only meeting of the season against Alex Ovechkin, and even though the Russian sniper isn’t on top of his game points wise, he’s still a scary proposition.
“It’s a little bit different for him, he’s having an off year, but he’s still a dangerous player,” said Horcoff. “He’s the type of guy you don’t want to give too much opportunity to early. You want to let him sleep.”
Nikolai Khabibulin will start in goal and is looking forward to facing off against his Russian comrade.
“He’s one of the best Russian players right now and the way he plays, it’s fun to watch players like that,” said the Oilers netminder. “It’s always a challenge and the fact that he’s also Russian adds a little bit extra special.”
LATE HITS: Gilbert Brule is ready to go, but Renney wants to take another look at Alex Giroux, who’s been very good in the first two games of his call up. Once Brule returns to the roster, Giroux has to go down or it burns one of their three remaining call ups.
“I’d like to see Alex Giroux one more game, so I’m going to hold Brue out,” said Renney. “In fairness to Brue he’s ready to go, in fairness to me I want to see Alex play again and give ourselves a chance to make an informed decision becasue he’s a very, very intriguing player.”