Blue Jackets-Oilers Preview
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (30-27-9) at
EDMONTON OILERS (30-30-5)
6:08 p.m. MST
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Blue Jackets Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Rexall Place in what will be the third of four meetings between the two clubs.
This is also the fourth game in Edmonton’s current five-game homestand. The club won the first two games, defeating Colorado and Detroit. Then on Thursday night, they traded goals with the Los Angeles Kings, ultimately winning 5-4.
Columbus remains in the playoff race, five points behind Colorado for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference but are in dire need of a winning streak. The Blue Jackets were in good position to make the postseason in mid-January after winning four straight but have only won seven of 19 games since that time.
The Blue Jackets are one of the teams in Edmonton's way as they try and claim that last playoff position. A win tonight would move the Oilers two points behind Columbus with a game in hand.
Each team has won a game in the two previous meetings between these clubs. Edmonton won 3-1 on November 26 and Columbus topped the Oilers 4-2 on December 31.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (11:03 AM):
Mathieu Garon starts in goal once again for the Oilers. The rest of the lineup remains the same as last game. Ales Hemsky
(wrist) pronounced himself ready to go this morning.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Former Blue Jacket Curtis Glencross plays his first game against his old team tonight. Glencross had two goals and three assists for five points in nine games as an Oiler. He had six goals and 12 points in 36 games with Columbus… Robert Nilsson has done well against the Central Division this season, ranking second on the Oilers in scoring with 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) in 14 games. He had an assist and the shootout winner against Central Division-leading Detroit last Tuesday. Hemsky leads the Oilers with 11 points in 12 games versus the Central. Nilsson and Andrew Cogliano
are both on three-game scoring streaks. Nilsson has a goal and two assists while Cogliano has two goals and two assists during that time.
BLUE JACKETS TO WATCH:
Acquired by Columbus in exchange for Glencross, Dick Tarnstrom faces the Oilers tonight. Tarnstrom has a goal and four points in eight games with the Blue Jackets and is averaging 18:37 of ice time… Columbus is led offensively by Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev. Nash has 34 goals and 55 points in 64 games while Zherdev has 24 goals and 53 points in 66 games. Zherdev has made a huge improvement over last season when he had only 10 goals and 32 points in 71 games… Former Oiler Michael Peca is third on the Blue Jackets in scoring with 29 points (4 goals) in 50 games. Peca has picked up an assist in eight of his last 13 games, netting nine helpers in that time.
Edmonton – Ales Hemsky
(wrist) is probable. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Ladislav Smid
(ankle) is out. Shawn Horcoff
(shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Columbus – The Blue Jackets are healthy.
The Oilers are 7-8-0 against the Central Division this season… Tom Gilbert
needs only one goal to set a new mark for Oilers rookie defencemen in one season. With nine goals, Gilbert is tied with both Paul Coffey and Marc-Andre Bergeron for the franchise scoring record for blueliners… When scoring three goals or more in a game, Columbus is 24-1-4 this season. They are 6-26-5 when scoring two goals or less… Columbus also does well when they score first or lead after the first period. They are 21-3-5 when getting the game’s first goal, including 10-1-1 on the road. They are 18-2-3 this season and 34-3-6 over the past two seasons when leading after one period of play.
- Pre-game comments from Penner, Glencross, Stortini, Hemsky & MacTavish: 700K
The Other Side
- Jackets shock Canucks in comeback - Faced with a third period two-goal deficit, Andrew Murray and Rick Nash both scored within 1:10, then Jason Chimera tipped in Nikolai Zherdev's centering pass at 1:07 of OT to give the Jackets a 3-2 win over the Canucks Friday at GM Place. Photos | ...more
Item of the Game
- Tonight's item of the game is a Ladies interlock polo -$24.99 and Oilers Ladies jacket - $59.99 (reg 109.99).
Odds and Ends
- Oilers offer up skills predictions - We spoke with a number of Oilers players and head coach Craig MacTavish to find out predictions for who will win the events at Saturday's Edmonton Oilers Skills Competition. | VIDEO | TICKETS | Make your own predictions! | ...more
From the Wire
While other teams might be looking past the Columbus Blue Jackets, they refuse to count themselves out of playoff contention.
The resilient Blue Jackets look to help their postseason chances when they continue their three-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Columbus (30-27-9) finished last month with a record of 5-5-3, leaving it third in the Central Division and in the bottom half of the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets, though, closed out February by winning three of their last four games, including a 3-2 overtime victory at Vancouver on Friday.
"A lot of teams are writing us off right now but for us there's no point," said goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who made 21 saves. "We're not going to go down easy. We're there so might as well just try to make something out of it and prove people wrong."
Leclaire has done his part to keep Columbus focused, posting a 3-1-0 mark with a 1.96 goals-against average and a shutout in his last four starts.
On Friday, Andrew Murray and Rick Nash scored in regulation, while Jason Chimera added a goal in overtime for the Blue Jackets, who have never been to the playoffs in their seven-year history.
"We need to win if we want to make it to the postseason, so we're playing desperate," said Nash, the Blue Jackets' leader in goals (34) and points (55).
Nash has six goals and four assists in his last nine contests after having just two goals in his previous seven games.
The Blue Jackets have improved offensively of late, scoring 11 goals in their last four contests after tallying just twice in the previous two. However, they have been ineffective on the power-play, going 0-for-17 over the last six games.
They hope to improve those numbers as they look to extend their three-game road winning streak, their longest since a four-game run from Dec. 2-12, 2006.
The Blue Jackets might have a tough time reaching that mark in Edmonton (30-30-5), where they have lost eight of the last 10 meetings. They haven't fared well against the Oilers in the all-time series either, going 6-16-1 with three ties.
These teams split their first two meetings this season, with the Blue Jackets winning 4-2 at home on Dec. 31 in the most recent contest.
Columbus, though, will be playing at Rexall Place, where the Oilers have won a season-high six straight to tie a mark they set from Oct. 5-28, 2006.
The Oilers have not won that many in a row at home since an eight-game streak from Feb. 24-April 2, 1986. They are coming off of the third victory on their five-game homestand - a 5-4 win over NHL-worst Los Angeles on Thursday.
Ales Hemsky had two goals and an assist for the Oilers, who seek their first four-game win streak since Jan. 5-13.
Hemsky, who leads the Oilers with 55 points, played through an injured wrist he hurt after he landed on it following his first second-period goal.
"It's still a little better than it was a week ago," Hemsky said. "It's something that will improve after the season, but right now I jam it every game. It's just something I have to battle through."
Hemsky has five goals and 15 points in 15 career games against the Blue Jackets.
Meanwhile, Nash registered his lone hat trick of the season - the second of his career - in that December win over the Oilers.