The Edmonton Oilers have just ten games remaining in the 2020-21 regular season. Currently, the Oilers are set up nicely to not just make the playoffs, but to get home-ice in the first round next month. Tonight, the Oilers look for their fourth win in their last five games as they open a back-to-back set on the road.
The Oilers are in Winnipeg to take on the Jets for the ninth and final time this season. The game concludes a two-game trip to Winnipeg, and opens a back-to-back set that concludes tomorrow night back home against the Calgary Flames. The Oilers have won five straight against the Jets, and are 6-2-0 overall this season. This is more than likely a first round matchup in the North as well.
Connor Hellebuyck gets the go for the Jets, while Mike Smith gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: A better start for the Oilers could be enough to knock off the Jets for a sixth straight time. Yes, the Oilers jumped out to a 5-0 lead on Monday night, but they spent the first five minutes of the game chasing in their own zone with Mike Smith making some key saves. If the Oilers can come out swinging, and perhaps strike early, they could completely kill what little confidence the Jets have left in this matchup.
Winnipeg: Tighten up defensively. The Jets are far too content to play an open game with the Oilers, and it has killed them. The Jets have had no answer for Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl this season, what they are doing is not working. The Jets need to be harder in the neutral zone and force the Oilers to dump the puck in more. They need to be much more physical and make life tougher for the Oilers.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Connor McDavid says it doesn’t matter to him, but his pursuit of 100 points in a 56-game season has the attention of the hockey world. McDavid is putting together an offensive season not seen in over a decade. McDavid is a special player who has put on some special shows against the Jets this season. How will he follow up Monday night’s four point outburst?
Winnipeg: Blake Wheeler is one of the most underrated players in the NHL. He’s been mostly irrelevant against the Oilers this season. Overall, Wheeler has scored 34 points (10 g, 24 a) in 42 games this season, but has just four points (2 g, 2 a) and is -14 against the Oilers. He has to be better if the Jets want a chance in these games.
The Oilers confirmed they will roll with the same lineup that took home a 6-1 win in Winnipeg on Monday night. That means Patrick Russell, Kyle Turris, William Lagesson, Kris Russell and Alex Stalock are healthy scratches. Joakim Nygard is day-to-day with a hand injury, while Jujhar Khaira is also day-to-day with an upper body issue.
Zack Kassian (lower body) was placed on LTIR on Monday and does not have a timetable for return.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Dominik Kahun – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Devin Shore – Ryan McLeod – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Dmitry Kulikov – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
Like the Oilers, the Jets will run with the same lineup as Monday night. Forward Nikolaj Ehlers (upper body) is out for the remainder of the regular season, while Adam Lowry (upper body) is day-to-day and will not play tonight. Nathan Beaulieu (hand) is on IR, while Bryan Little (ear) has not and will not play this season.
Winnipeg Jets Lines:
Andrew Copp – Mark Scheifele – Mason Appleton
Kyle Connor – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Blake Wheeler
Kristian Vesalainen – Paul Stastny – Mathieu Perrault
Jansen Harkins – Nate Thompson – Trevor Lewis
Josh Morrissey – Tucker Poolman
Derek Forbort – Neal Pionk
Jordie Benn – Dylan DeMelo
“Just because there were a couple of highlight-reel plays that put you in front, doesn’t mean that you actually played a really good game,” Dave Tippett said from Winnipeg on Wednesday. “We capitalized on some chances and kind of pushed the game ahead for us. We gave up too much in certain situations and those are areas that we’ll have to be better in tonight.”
How about some love for Darnell Nurse? In the season series between the Oilers and Jets, Nurse has scored nine points (2 g, 7 a). That would be the most among all Jets skaters, not just defensemen. He’s been lethal in this season series, and scored again on Monday night to keep the good times rolling.
The Oilers dropped two of the first three meetings between these teams, but have been outstanding head-to-head since then. Edmonton has won five straight against the Jets, and holds a 6-2-0 advantage in the series. The Oilers have the three highest scorers (McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse) and have outscored the Jets 31-21. Coming into tonight, the Oilers are 3-1-0 at Bell MTS Place.