Hawks Host Oilers

Chicago, Illinois - Considering the late surge the Edmonton Oilers put together to conclude last season, it shouldn't be too surprising that they're off to one of the best starts in the NHL thus far.

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The unbeaten Oilers look for their fifth straight victory on Wednesday, when they kick off a three-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Chicago -125 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -125 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Edmonton (4-0-0) went 14-5-1 over the final five weeks of 2007-08, but missed the playoffs for a second straight season as it finished tied for ninth in the Western Conference with Chicago (2-2-2) and Vancouver.

But despite failing to come away with a postseason berth, the Oilers carried their positive momentum into the new season as they've opened with four straight victories for the first time since starting 5-0-0 in 1985-86.

Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani each had a goal and an assist during a three-goal second period as the Oilers topped visiting Calgary 3-2 on Saturday.

Andrew Cogliano notched his second goal of the season, but indicated that 28-year-old rookie Steve MacIntyre's punishing hit and subsequent fight sparked the club's offensive barrage.

"That was a momentum turner for us," Cogliano said. "We were joking on the bench that we hadn't seen a hit like that in a long time. The guy that took that hit, we feel bad for him. And then he wins the fight right afterward. It was a big boost for the team and something we didn't have last year."

Edmonton is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the West along with Minnesota.

The Oilers will try to contain a Chicago team that has won two of its last three games.

Patrick Sharp scored twice and added an assist, while Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists in a 4-2 victory over visiting Vancouver on Sunday.

It was the Blackhawks' first win under Joel Quenneville, who replaced the fired Denis Savard on Thursday and watched his team build a two-goal lead before an eventual 4-3 shootout loss in St. Louis two nights later.

"I liked the response," Quenneville said. "It was a real emotional loss for us (in St. Louis). There's a big picture that's very bright here.

"The skill level of our kids will get better and better. But as a coach, we're in a short-term business. We want to win hockey games."

Kane - the reigning Calder Trophy winner - appears to have benefited from Quenneville's presence, providing three goals and three assists since the coaching change.

He and Sharp - tied for the team lead with eight points apiece - converted two of the Blackhawks' five power-play chances after entering Sunday's game 2-for-22 with the man-advantage.

Goaltender Cristobal Huet made 28 saves Sunday for his first victory with Chicago, and has compiled a 2.03 goals-against average in splitting two games versus Edmonton.

Huet signed a four-year, $24.45 million free-agent contract on July 1, but continues to share the net with Nikolai Khabibulin, who is 5-1-2 with a 1.94 GAA in his last nine matchups against the Oilers.

Meanwhile, the Oilers' Mathieu Garon, who made 31 saves versus Calgary, is 6-2-0 with a 2.37 GAA in eight all-time games versus Chicago.

The Oilers went 3-1-0 in last season's series versus the Blackhawks, winning once in two tries at the United Center.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1996
EDMONTON is 22-15-7 straight up against CHICAGO since 1996
20 of 39 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1996. (Over=+0.1 Units)
Games over the last 3 seasons
EDMONTON is 5-3 (+2.0 Units) against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons 
EDMONTON is 5-3-0 straight up against CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons 
4 of 6 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+1.5 Units)
All games played at CHICAGO since 1996
CHICAGO is 10-9-3 straight up against EDMONTON since 1996
11 of 18 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1996. (Over=+3.5 Units)
Games played at CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons.
CHICAGO is 3-1 (+1.6 Units) against the spread versus EDMONTON over the last 3 seasons 
CHICAGO is 3-1-0 straight up against EDMONTON over the last 3 seasons 
2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons . (Under=+0.7 Units)
Key Player Injuries
EDMONTON
No significant injuries.
CHICAGO
[LW] Ben Eager has been suspended 3 games - Suspension - 10/08/08

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Posted: 10/22/08 12:56 AM

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