The Edmonton Oilers return home from yet another tough road trip with four points added to the bank. Tonight, they’ll try and capture the emotion sure to be inside of Rogers Place and rebound from Thursday’s loss. The Oilers host the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second and final meeting between the sides this season.
The Oilers rallied on Thursday, but came up short in a 4-3 defeat in Chicago. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, blew a late lead and lost 3-2 in overtime to Calgary. The Oilers won the first meeting between the sides, 4-1, in October in Ohio.
Mikko Koskinen gets the start for the Oilers, while Joonas Korpisalo gets the go for the Blue Jackets.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Show up on time. Yes, the third period was great on Thursday but the the first 40 minutes were brutal. The Oilers cannot afford to keep no-showing the start of games against lesser opponents. Tonight is no exception. Get out there and set the tone early. The Oilers cannot afford to be giving away points, their cushion is not that big.
Columbus: Pressure the puck carrier. The Blackhawks had the Oilers “stuck in the muck” on Thursday night for 40 minutes. Dallas did the same thing on Tuesday night at five-on-five. Both teams clogged up the neutral zone and pressured Edmonton’s puck carriers intensely. That is the key to beating this team.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Connor McDavid, again, has two new linemates. Tonight, he gets Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian on his wings. McDavid and RNH looked great together at the end of the 2017-18 season, while Kassian has been terrific next to the captain since 2019 began. Can this trio provide a spark? McDavid has been down at five-on-five as of late.
Columbus: Zach Werenski is anchoring what is a makeshift Columbus defense right now. With Seth Jones done for at least the regular season, Werenski has had to take on an even bigger role. He has been up to the task, and will likely face Edmonton’s top forwards for at least 20 minutes.
Dave Tippett is tinkering with his top-six, moving Nugent-Hopkins to the top line and bringing Kassian back up. As a result, Patrick Russell and Gaetan Haas will be scratched. Matt Benning sits on defense, while William Lagesson was assigned to AHL Bakersfield this morning. Oscar Klefbom returns, while Joakim Nygard (hand) and Mike Green (knee) remain on IR.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Zack Kassian
Tyler Ennis – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Andreas Athanasiou – Riley Sheahan – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Jujhar Khaira – Alex Chiasson
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones – Kris Russell
The Blue Jackets are extremely injured. Cam Atkinson (ankle), Seth Jones (ankle), Dean Kukan (knee), Alexandre Texier (back), Josh Anderson (shoulder), and Brandon Dubinsky (wrist) are all on IR and will not play. Oliver Bjorkstrand (ankle) recently took a nasty spill and is out for the season. Oh, and Nathan Gerbe (groin) and Ryan Murray (undisclosed) will not play tonight.
Columbus Blue Jackets Lines:
Alexander Wennberg – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Emil Bemstrom
Nick Foligno – Boone Jenner – Gustav Nyquist
Kevin Stenlund – Riley Nash – Eric Robinson
Jakob Lilja – Devin Shore – Stefan Matteau
Zach Werenski – Markus Nutivaara
Vladislav Gavrikov – David Savard
Scott Harrington – Andrew Peeke
The Oilers get a huge boost to their lineup with the addition of Klefbom. The veteran Swede is 5th in the NHL in ice time, averaging 25:36 per game. Edmonton will get their powerplay quarterback, penalty killer and five-on-five stalwart back for the stretch drive. It’s a return that should make everyone a little better on defense.
Edmonton has 80 points, which trails the Vegas Golden Knights by two for the Pacific Division crown. The Oilers have a game in hand and will host Vegas on Monday night. Their opponent tonight is just 2-4-4 in their last ten and 12-9-11 on the road this season.
Leon Draisaitl’s special season is becoming a historic season. With 100 points, Draisaitl has the 3rd most points in a single season by an Oiler since 1989-90. He has a point in an NHL-high 56 games this season. 33 of those outings have been multi-point affairs.