The Formidable Avalanche Pile Into Edmonton

Antony TaContributor IOctober 27, 2009

EDMONTON, CANADA - NOVEMBER 15:  Shawn Horcoff #10 of the Edmonton Oilers and Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche vie for position during their NHL game on November 15, 2008 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The Avalanche defeated the Oilers 3-2 in shootout overtime. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

That image is a preview of Shawn Horcoff 's job on Tuesday night, as one of my favorite players in Paul Stastny rolls into town along with the rest of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Oilers will have their hands full with the revamped Avs who are leading the Western Conference with 18 points. More so than Edmonton, Avs' fans have found their team in the standings where no pundits would have placed them before the season started, and they are doing it on the back of the NHL's newest goaltending star in Craig Anderson.

Most likely all of Anderson's doubters have now been silenced by his perfomance. He's no longer the also-ran of Tomas Vokoun . He's his own man.

This has led to a steady appeciation of his abilities and an increase in my goal-tending points acquired via the Fantasy Pool. Thanks Craig.

Also of note is the deft play of Kyle Quincey, who many thought would suffer as a result of his move to the mile high city. Boy, were the pundits wrong.

Horcoff has traditionally played very well against the Avalanche, and one Sam Gagner has as well. However, the last time the Oilers played the Avs, Kotalik and O'Sullivan was flanking Gagner's wings, not Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky .

Here's a little recap of the last time these two teams met.

I have my fingers crossed that the Oilers resemble that team more than the flu-ridden Oilers of the weekend past. The effort from the Oilers in the last two games was relatively poor in comparison to the run-and-gun, bull-in-a-china-shop style they have been playing up until the past weekend.

The fact that Mike Comrie is sick and Ryan Stone is injured may have something to do with it as well.

Whatever the case, the Oilers can't afford to slip any farther in the standings. They've come out this season with something to prove and they haven't done nearly enough to prove it yet.

They've done lots of good things and the next thing on the to-do list is not to hand the title of "Most Improved Team " to the Avalanche without a fight.

After losing two games to Calgary that they should've won but lost due to their luck, and then being completely invisible against Vancouver and Calgary (again) for back-to-back nights, expect the Oilers to come out with a bang against the rejuvenated Avalanche.

And that's the Avs sans Darcy Tucker , of course.