The facts don't lie, Oilers have not had very much success at Xcel Energy Center ever since the departure of Ryan Smyth. However, does Ryan Smyth back in the Blue and Orange mean that Oilers, in fact, do stand a chance tonight? Why don't we start by breaking down what really matters.
The Minnesota Wild did not look too good on Tuesday, as it was clear that they were outplayed by the Ottawa Senators. The Senators are among the most inexperienced of teams this year, and high achievements are not expected of them. However, there were emotional intangibles that could be incorporated into the motivation that Ottawa displayed in their home opener, as Heatley made his return to Scotiabank Place for the second time since his unpleasant departure.
Niklas Backstrom was the main reason why Ottawa did not score alot more goals on Tuesday, and if the Wild bring anything tonight that could be described as on-ice product similar to their last game, they might not be as fortunate against a very determined Edmonton Oilers young squad. The Wild defense did not look good last game, and they might really be starting to show signs that they really miss Brent Burns.
On Paper, Edmonton's young talent looks to be a few notches above Ottawa's, and if they can get some repeat solid goaltending from their other tandem unit, Nikolai Khabibulin, they will have a strong chance to snap out of their drought in Minnesota. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be playing hard, as he is still on his rookie trial and realizes that he needs to impress in order to stay on the team. With him being a better playmaker, it will turn his Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky into even better offensive weapons as well. Edmonton also has a tremendously underrated defense, as they looked fantastic in their season opener versus the Penguins. Clearly, playing a Pittsburgh team minus Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, certainly makes things easier to contain, but Pittsburgh has been on a scoring rampage against every other team they have faced so far, despite not having either of these guys in their lineups or at a hundred percent.
The truth is, both teams look like they are drifting in opposite directions while coming into this one. Edmonton is leaving an impression that they would like to be taken seriously this year, while the Wild have displayed that they have yet to settle in.
By no means, will it be easy to pick a winner in this one, as the past trends clearly favor the Wild, however, if there is a time for the trend to be bucked, Edmonton is poised to turn the tide. Maybe I'm wrong though. Perhaps this home game for the Wild is exactly what their arena name suggests. Perhaps the energy in this building is the rejuvenation that Minny needs to erase their last two games and continue their dominance against their division rival.
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