GD17: Jets @ Oilers - Big Standings Week
The Edmonton Oilers had the past three days off and the hockey gods were kind. As the dust settled as the other Canadian teams faced off, Edmonton now sits third in the North Division. This week Edmonton will play two games against the two teams directly below them in the standings; the Jets and Flames.
These are crucial games for Edmonton. Both Calgary and Winnipeg have two games in hand with the Jets one point below Edmonton while the Flames are three. A 2-2 record this week would be great but a 3-1 or even a sweep would be fantastic. Anything less will erase the hard work that Edmonton has put in the past couple weeks.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
- Guessing on lines right now but this is what we saw in practice and after his stellar performance I'm assuming Tippett will return to Mike Smith.
UPDATE: It looks like Bear is not ready yet to play tonight
JETS LINE COMBINATIONS
- The Jets will be without Dubois for a second straight game after tweaking something on Thursday against the Senators.
4 THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1.) New Pairing - It goes to show how good the young Evan Bouchard has been early now that Bear is set to return that Tippett has juggled his lines to keep him in. Bouchard will start on the left side with Ethan Bear on the right. It's technically listed as the third pairing but it will be interesting to see how the minutes play out. Having depth is a nice change for the Oilers but I wonder how long it will be until Caleb Jones is in the lineup again.
2.) Top Lines Effort - The Oilers have played some great team hockey over their last few games but they haven't gotten as much as they usually do from their top players. McDavid, Draisaitl, and Puljujarvi each have one goal in the past four games and RNH has none. The depth scoring has been great but sooner or later the top guys will need to start leading the way again.
3.) Puljujarvi Returns - Oilers fans can breath a sigh of relief as it was announced that Jeese Puljujarvi would return to the Oilers lineup after his COVID results officially came back negative. JP has really started to look comfortable on the top line and it would have been a huge loss if he was forced to miss weeks of hockey.
4.) Hellebuyck - I picked the Jets to finish closer to the bottom of the North this season because I felt their defense wasn't too strong and that Hellebuyck couldn't carry the load again. So far I have been wrong as that is exactly what he is doing. Hellebuyck has posted a 0.921 SV% so far this season and has looked just as dangerous as he was last season. Edmonton needs to get in front early and challenge the Vezina Winner.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
The top two lines come alive and the Khaira trio continues to play a physical steady game.
THE JETS WIN IF...
Edmonton comes out sluggish and we get our first signs of the Mike Smith of last season.