The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets met nine times during the course of the 2020-21 regular season. Advantage? Decidedly Edmonton. The Oilers were 7-2-0 against the Jets, and have won each of the last six meetings between the teams. While those numbers have fans excited and analysts lining up to pick the Oilers to win the series, they mean nothing to the men who will be wearing the uniform on Wednesday night.
“As of right now, it means nothing,” Jujhar Khaira told reporters on Monday when asked about Edmonton’s regular season success against the Jets. “During the season, it was great and got us to the spot we wanted to be going into the playoffs. Everybody knows that playoffs are a different animal. Whatever happened in the regular season doesn’t count anymore. We’re going in there as a hungry team and a team that has something to prove. We’re excited to get going. It’s going to be a big test for us.”
It’s also going to be a great chance for the Oilers to wipe a bad taste out of their mouth. The Oilers were a heavy-favorite back in August against the Chicago Blackhawks, but lost the best-of-five series in four games.
They know a series cannot be won on paper, and that this time of year requires a different level of determination and commitment.
Veteran goaltender Mike Smith, who is almost certainly going to start Game 1, knows that better than most. He, like Khaira, also knows that regular season success doesn’t mean much when the playoffs begin.
“We’ve had success but they’re a good team,” Smith said about Edmonton’s fortunes in the season series. “A lot of the games were close throughout the course of the season. What’s done is done. The playoffs are just a new season altogether and a new animal. Whatever we’ve done throughout the regular season is over. We carry some confidence going into the playoffs knowing that we can beat anyone in the North Division. Hopefully, that shows come Game 1.”
It didn’t show in Game 1 last year, where the Oilers fell behind against a lesser opponent and never got back on track. They are determined for Wednesday night to be a different kind of game, to bring a different result.