The Edmonton Oilers are 2-4-0, and tonight will take on the Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season. The Jets, who played against the Ottawa Senators last night, will be completing a back-to-back set and could be prime for the picking against the Oilers.
Edmonton, who just split a two-game set in Toronto, is hoping that is the case. Yes, it is still early in the season, but falling too far behind early in a 56-game season could be fatal. The Oilers need to string some wins together, and fast.
If they are going to do that, they’ll need more production from some players. It’s been a quiet start for guys like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris and Zack Kassian. Head Coach Dave Tippett acknowledged the slow starts and the need for more from some of his key players.
“It’s certainly a concern,” Tippett admitted when asked about the early struggles of some of his players. “You want to get everybody up and going. We chart a lot of stuff with scoring chances and stuff like that. There are times where players are getting chances and it’s not going in. You can keep them up that way. There are times when you wish they were getting scoring chances but they’re not and you got to make some adjustments.”
One adjustment could come on the top line. Zack Kassian, the normal right winger on the line, was shifted to the third line on Friday night after another ineffective outing. Jesse Puljujarvi, in his first season back from Finland, shifted up with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“We’ll see where things go,” Tippett said when asked if that line would stick on Sunday night. “We’ve got a couple of injury issues that we’re looking at that might be a concern for tomorrow. Jesse’s game has been good. He’s playing a North American-style, he’s competing hard in the corners, going to the front of the net. His game is going to the front of the net. His game is moving in the right direction. We’ll see where things go.”
Hopefully, for the Oilers, things will go in the right direction. So far, the club has failed to meet the expectations set coming into the season. There’s still plenty of time, however.