NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 1st
(All times eastern)
Minnesota Wild (35-23-6) at Edmonton Oilers (30-28-6), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers begin a new era tonight, minus forward
Ryan Smyth, when they host the Minnesota Wild at the Rexall Place.
Edmonton's fans went through a variety of emotions on Tuesday's trade
deadline. The Oilers began the day preparing to honor former Edmonton great
Mark Messier, but the day's joyous overtone was hit with a jolt later on when
the franchise was forced to deal fan-favorite Smyth.
Smyth was traded to the New York Islanders for young forwards Robert Nilsson
and Ryan O'Marra and a first-round pick in the 2007 draft. The transaction
became necessary when Edmonton and Smyth failed to come to terms on a new
deal. Smyth is a free agent at the end of the season and the club didn't want
to risk losing him and getting nothing in return.
Smyth had spent his entire career up to that point with the Oilers and was the
team's leading scorer this season with 31 goals and 53 points.
Smyth's departure was obvious on the ice as the team was blanked by Phoenix,
3-0, later that night. Dwayne Roloson allowed three goals on 32 shots in the
The Oilers escaped the fans' wrath on that evening due to the honoring of
Messier. Edmonton won't be as lucky for the remainder of its current four-game
homestand that began on Tuesday.
A native of Edmonton, Messier began his NHL career in 1979 with the Oilers and
was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoff MVP when Edmonton won
its first Stanley Cup in 1984. Messier went on to win four more Cups with the
Oilers and is the second all-time leading scorer in NHL history with 1,887
points (694 goals, 1,193 assists), behind only current Coyote head coach Wayne
Edmonton is 18-12-2 at home this season and trails Minnesota by 10 points for
the eighth playoff spot in the West.
The Wild had a three-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday, as Jarome
Iginla scored the only goal of the shootout to lead the Calgary Flames over
Minnesota, 2-1, at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Pavol Demitra tallied for the Wild, who lost goaltender Niklas Backstrom in
the game. Backstrom made five saves before leaving the game at the first
intermission due to a lower-body injury. Josh Harding took the loss despite
stopping 21 shots in relief.
Harding's appearance marked just his fifth in the NHL so far in his career,
but it is very possible the netminder will make his fourth career start
The Wild will hope Backstrom's injury isn't serious, as starting goaltender
Manny Fernandez (sore left knee) is still at least one week away from
Tonight's contest is the second on a three-game road trip for Minnesota, which
is 13-18-2 as the visitor this season, and concludes the swing Sunday in
The Wild made a small deal before the deadline when they acquired center
Dominic Moore from Pittsburgh for a third-round pick in the 2007 draft. Moore
had six goals and nine assists in 59 games with the Penguins this season.
This is the fifth of eight meetings between the clubs this season and the
third in Edmonton. Each team has two victories so far in the series, but the
Wild have won eight of the last 11 overall and are 6-1-2 (two ties) in their
last nine games in Edmonton.
03/01 10:15:38 ET