Welcome, fair citizens, to a Hockey Night in Canada edition of the GDB as we all get set for tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets.
For me, a huge storyline leading into the second of three meetings between these two clubs is that both sides are trying to make the playoffs with significant chunks of their respective lineups sitting out with injury. Coming off a big shutout win over the Capitals on Thursday, the Jets roll into Edmonton missing the likes of Little, Perreault, Morrissey, and possibly Laine (supposedly a game-time decision) which is obviously a big hit to their lineup over and above the guys they lost on the back end last summer. Meanwhile, the Oilers continue to battle their own injury issues, Mike Green being the latest to go down, but could get some good news and reinforcements on the way. Yesterday, Dave Tippett said that he expects Andreas Athanasiou to play after leaving on Wednesday in Vegas while Kailer Yamamoto was to be reevaluated again this morning. Combined with Zack Kassian coming back from his suspension and the Oilers could have as many as three regulars ready to fill a top-nine role, which would be an obvious boost.
Good news? I think we could all use some. Fingers crossed, people.
After finishing off their road trip through LA, Anaheim, and Vegas at 1-1-1, the Oilers will be looking to rebound against a resilient Jets team that is doing what they can to claw their way into the final Wildcard spot in the Western Conference despite the holes in their lineup. Even with the absences and injuries, Paul Maurice has the Jets playing hard each and every night and it’s going to be a battle for the Oilers regardless of who’s available to play or not. Put another way, this game is going to be a massive test of depth for our boys as they are not only banged up in key positions, but also looking to turn the tides and get back into the win column against a team that is 8-4-2 in the month of February. Not that there’s ever an easy game against the Jets, they’ve won the season series against the Oilers the last two years, but it will be up to the Oilers to bring their best to ensure that they cut off this losing streak at two games. The Pacific Division is simply too tight right now to go on a run of losses, making this a huge night for our boys and one that I hope they’ll be fired up to win.
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-3-2||5-4-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||49.12||43.49|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Athanasiou – McDavid – Ennis
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto???
Archibald – Sheahan – Kassian
Khaira – Haas – Chiasson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Larsson
Lagesson – Benning
The lines posted above are what the Oilers were running with yesterday at practice but I have no idea if that actually means that both Kailer Yamamoto and Andreas Athanasiou are back in the lineup or not. Yamamoto was originally listed as week to week so having him back for tonight’s game would obviously be a huge boost to the roster and I’m very intrigued to see if he actually gets back in. Zack Kassian will make his return to the lineup, fresh off a seven game suspension and I’d expect that he should be jacked up to go. As I mentioned above, the Oilers announced yesterday that Mike Green will miss the next three or four weeks with a sprained MCL which is another kick to the shin that this team just didn’t need. As always, I’ll update the lines when the official word comes out.
***UPDATE*** According to Dave Tippett, Yamamoto is close but won’t play tonight. No line combos yet.
Connor – Scheifele – Wheeler
Ehlers – Eakin – Laine???
Harkins – Copp – Roslovic
Bourque – Shore – Appleton
Kulikov – Pionk
Beaulieu – Demelo
Bitetto – Poolman
Despite the absences in their lineup, the Jets are never going to be an easy win and it’s going to take a strong defensive effort to keep their big boys off the board. That said, the Oilers also have a chance to take advantage of a depleted defensive group that could struggle to handle the McDraisaitl one-two punch. At least, that’s the theory anyway.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Coming into this matchup, the Oilers have lost four of their last five games and are currently riddled with injuries. While Connor McDavid has been back for two games, Edmonton is still without two of their top players in Oscar Klefbom and Kailer Yamamoto. So, the Jets will look to take advantage of this wounded Oilers group during the second of three meetings between these two teams.
When these two teams last met on Oct. 20, there were zero goals scored through 60 minutes of regulation and nothing through five minutes of three-on-three overtime as well. In addition, neither the Jets or the Oilers were able to generate at least 30 shots on net. However, those same results likely won’t occur later tonight at Rogers Place.
Since Jan. 1, Edmonton has averaged the third-most goals/game (3.45) and they’ve produced 31.0 shots on net/game which is the 22nd-best among all 31 teams in the league. As for Winnipeg, their squad has generated the eighth-best goals/game average (3.31) and shots on net/game average (33.3) since Feb. 1. So, neither team should find it hard to create offensive production during their second meeting of the season.
Game Day Prediction: The boys come out pissed off about the way that road trip ended and get back in the win column with a 4-2 victory.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: We will continue to hammer the ‘Winnipeg doesn’t have an airport’ joke into the ground.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Dave Tippett is tonight’s guest on After Hours and he will answer my question that asks him to bring back the TipStache.
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