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GDB 82.0: Oilers look to get through this game healthy and ready for the playoffs (7:30pm MT, SNW)

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Photo credit:© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
16 days ago
Stay healthy.
That is all that matters tonight for the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers are guaranteed to begin the playoffs at home, likely on Monday, and they will host either Vegas or LA. The Avalanche will begin their 2024 playoffs in Winnipeg. They still need to finish the regular season, and the biggest story line tonight, and arguably the only one, will be Nathan MacKinnon’s quest to become only the 12th player in NHL history to score 140 points in a season.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
MacKinnon needs two points to join the exclusive 140-point club.
Wayne Gretzky did it 11 times.
Mario Lemieux had five seasons with 140 points.
Phil Esposito reached it twice.
Mike Bossy, Bernie Nicholls, Steve Yzerman, Pat Lafontaine, Adam Oates, Jaromir Jagr, Connor McDavid (last season) and Nikita Kucherov (this season) have done it once.
MacKinnon wants to reach the mark, and you know his teammates want him to. You saw the excitement on McDavid’s face and the reaction from his teammates when he scored his 100th assist this past Monday. We saw the same thing last night with Kucherov and Tampa Bay when he picked up his 100th assist of the season. We also saw the disappointment of Auston Matthews and his Toronto teammates when he came up one goal shy of 70. He is still only the 10th player to score 69 goals in a season but missing out on 70 goals was disappointing for him. MacKinnon is currently one of only 15 players to score 138 points. Peter Stastny and Bobby Orr finished with 139 points while Paul Coffey tallied 138. He’s in elite company already, but there is something different about reaching the round number threshold.
Then you add in how Colorado has struggled recently. They lost 6-2 in Edmonton two weeks ago, then lost 7-4 to Dallas, got crushed 7-0 by Winnipeg and blew a third period 3-0 lead and lost 4-3 to Vegas in overtime. They would love nothing more than to see MacKinnon reach 140 points and end their season with a victory.
The Oilers have very little to play for other than pride, and you can argue staying healthy is more important than pride in this game. The outcome tonight will have zero impact on how the Oilers perform in the playoffs. Tonight’s lineup won’t reflect what you see next week, and even with a full lineup, the playoffs are a new season. The Oilers won their final nine games last year, and actually went 14-0-1 in their final 15, but it didn’t get them the Stanley Cup.
Of course, the Oilers would like to win tonight. Winning is always more enjoyable, and if the Oilers win in regulation they would finish ahead of Colorado in the standings.

GAME DAY ARTICLE PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

This is just a projection as the Oilers didn’t skate this morning.

Oilers

RNH – Henrique– Foegele
Holloway – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Erne – Ryan – Gagner
Nurse – Ekholm
Kulak – Stecher
Broberg – Desharnais
Skinner
The Oilers have four extra forwards and two extra defenders so they could rest McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard. Evander Kane has missed the last two games with a nagging injury, so he could be the other player out. There might be another player with a nagging issue who they opt to rest. We’ll find out in warmup.
The Oilers could start Calvin Pickard again, but Skinner hasn’t had six days off between games at any point this season, other than the All-Star break, so I’d start him to keep him in rhythm. It will be his sixth start in April, and with the Oilers most likely opening up at home next Monday, he would enter that game having played six games in the previous 21 days. He will be fresh.

Avalanche 

Drouin – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Lehkonen – Mittelstadt – Nichushkin
Wood – Colton – Parise
Cogliano – Trenin – Duhaime
Toews – Makar
Walker – Manson
Johnson – Jones
Annunen
The Avalanche had an optional skate this morning, so these lines aren’t for sure. Sam Girard left Saturday’s game and was placed in concussion protocol, so he is out tonight. A few Avalanche reporters tweeted that Justus Annunen will get the start for the Avalanche.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers finish the season with 49 wins. They lose 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: MacKinnon picks up two points to reach 140.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Adam Henrique scores his 25th goal of the season. It is the fourth time he’s reached 25 goals, and the first time since 2020.

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