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PREVIEW: Oilers (24-31-6) at Jets (30-26-8)

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 2:49 AM
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PREVIEW: Oilers (24-31-6) at Jets (30-26-8)
Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets


AT THE MORNING SKATE The Edmonton Oilers skated in Winnipeg this morning under the cloud of the looming NHL trade deadline.

Lost on many is the fact that there is a game to play today. A huge one for the Jets, who sit two points back of the Florida Panthers for top spot in the Southeast Division but also important for the Oilers as they try and finish the season on a strong note.

Notably, Ryan Jones and Cam Barker will both return to the lineup. Jones in place of Magnus Paajarvi and Barker in place of the injured (then traded) Tom Gilbert.

Jones, who spent some time on the power-play unit during the morning skate, was happy to be returning and hoping to contribute to the team's recent success.

"We have to limit turnovers and force them to make some of their own. Just play a transition game on our side. I think that any time that our hockey team limits turnovers and plays in their end more then our own we have success and case and point was in the game these guys played against Calgary," he said.

Barker was excited to be playing his first in NHL game in Winnipeg, his hometown.

"It's one of the games I've been looking forward to when the schedule came out. I'm very excited to be back and see my family and friends," he said. "(The arena) is going to be electric in there and I'm excited for it"

Barker added that simplicity was key to his game.

"Just gotta keep it simple, when our team plays solid defence and we get the puck up to the forwards we play great games. It's something we got to continue to do and obviously want to chip in offensively and try to get that part of my game going."

Oilers head coach Tom Renney added that Nick Schultz will not play tonight.

"I don't think so he's got to clear his medical and what not, he's in transit so I think we'll see him tomorrow," stated Renney.


The mood in the dressing room was one of shock, with TSN's Tradecentre running in the background. The moment the players stepped off the ice, word broke on the fact the Oilers had traded Tom Gilbert to Minnesota.

"It's kind of crazy, you know we're all professionals so we know that anything can really happen on deadline day and Gibby's a Minnesota boy so I'm not sure how he feels about it. It'll be a good situation for him to get to go there, he was a big part of this team and as far as the past and he's a great hockey player and that's what most people see but he was also a really good guy," said Jones. "He was one of the nicest teammates that we have in this locker room. Like I said it's part of the game and we'll see 'Schultzy' -- we'll call him -- when he gets here."

Renney added that Gilbert will be missed, but he's excited to see Schultz added.

"It's one of those situations where they're two different players obviously and I think both teams have met a need to say the least," the coach began. "Kudos to Tommy Gilbert for being an outstanding teammate obviously and a real solid NHL defence man one that I know his teammates will miss obviously and as a coaching staff too. He brought everything he could to the rink every day for us and we certainly appreciate that, and wish him real good luck moving forward."

Smid added that it was tough to see a good friend go.

"We are really good friends, he was great for us in you know 5 years, so it's really hard to see a guy like that leave and I guess we got Nick Shultz who is also a really good player and hopefully he can help us."


Devan Dubnyk gets the start in goal tonight with Nikolai Khabibulin in the press box for one more game despite returning to the place where his career all began in Winnipeg. 

"I was really hoping to start tonight, unfortunately it's not quite ready yet so I'm going to have to take a couple more days," Khabibulin said. "I thought I felt good but after talking to medical staff they said that it's not quite ready yet and that I shouldn't play."

-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com

NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW Last 10: Edmonton 4-5-1; Winnipeg 6-2-2.

Season series: This is the only meeting of the season. In their last matchup on Feb. 19, 2011, Taylor Hall registered a natural hat trick in the third period to lift Edmonton over the then-Atlanta Thrashers, 5-3.

Big Story: Before a critical encounter with Florida on Thursday, Winnipeg welcomes the Oilers for the sixth game of a season-high eight-game homestand. The Jets are 3-0-2 on the long home stretch and 4-0-2 in their last six overall -- though they have been bumped out of the top spot in the Southeast division, which they briefly held after a win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Panthers won both of their games over the weekend to regain first place, as they lead Winnipeg by two points with three games in hand. However, the Jets do hold the eighth seed in the East with one point more than fellow Southeast rival Washington. The Oilers, 29th in the League with just 54 points, are in no such playoff race, but they have been reveling in the role of spoiler lately as they aim to win three consecutive road games for the first time in nearly 15 months.

Team Scope:

Oilers: After missing seven straight games and 20 of the last 22 with shoulder problems, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned to the lineup Saturday afternoon against Phoenix and promptly scored his 14th goal of the season and his first since Dec. 7. Unfortunately for the Oilers, that was the only offense they could manage as the red-hot Coyotes handed them a 3-1 defeat. Devan Dubnyk, who had stopped 55 of 56 in winning two in a row, conceded two tallies in the opening period and Edmonton was unable to recover.

"There are teams that are in the playoffs year after year for a reason, and this is one of them," said coach Tom Renney, who was back behind the bench after missing five games with a concussion sustained when he was hit in the head by a puck during practice.

Jets: Two second-period tallies by Blake Wheeler erased St. Louis' 2-0 lead Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre, but the Jets just couldn't get the go-ahead goal past Jaroslav Halak. Winnipeg outshot the Blues 42-16 before the game was ultimately decided in a shootout, where Chris Mason surrendered two goals on four attempts to give St. Louis a 3-2 win.  

"We're happy to get a point out of it," said Wheeler, who leads the club with 38 assists and 51 points. "We're happy we battled back against one of the better [Western Conference] teams."

Who's Hot: Hall has points in each of his last three games for the Oilers. … Wheeler (3-10-13), Dustin Byfuglien (2-9-11) and Evander Kane (5-4-9) are all riding six-game point streaks for the Jets. Andrew Ladd has points in five straight with four goals and five assists in that span.

Injury Report: Edmonton defenseman Theo Peckham (face) remains on Injured Reserve, while fellow D-man Tom Gilbert (back) did not make the trip. According to the Oilers' official web site, Winnipeg native Cam Barker will take his spot. … Jets blueliner Zach Bogosian has missed the last six games and is questionable for Monday's game with upper-body and foot injuries.

Stat Pack: Each team's power play is in the top 10 in the League. The Jets are ninth with a conversion rate of 18.9 percent, and Edmonton is surprisingly fourth at 21.2 percent.


Puck Drop: Monday's contest is the first time the Oilers are playing in Winnipeg since they lost to the Jets 9-4 on Dec. 15, 1995. While Nugent-Hopkins was just two years old at the time, Nikolai Khabibulin was already in his second season as a Jet. The Russian netminder began his NHL career in Winnipeg, but he might not get a chance to play in his old stomping rounds because of a groin injury that has sidelined him the last three games.

"It would be exciting to play a game there after such a long time," he told the Oilers' official web site. "It's where it all started for me. The fans were great to me and in general, the people in Winnipeg were really nice and still are. From watching a couple games on TV, I see that the building is really loud and the fans are crazy. I expect the same tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."

The 39-year-old goalie has been practicing and says he's ready to go, but Renney wants to make sure he is 100 percent before going back between the pipes.


"Amazing. That's quite a story," Renney said of Khabibulin's return to Winnipeg. "I'd like to contribute to that, but I also need to contribute to the well-being of the player in the long run."

-- Frank Mentesana, NHL.com

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 27 '12 EDM 5 at WPG 3 T. Hall
J. Eberle58283361+5883
T. Hall52232548+030127
R. Smyth62172340-44544
S. Gagner55142640+53050
R. Nugent-Hopkins42142337-3831
S. Horcoff62111930-201640
A. Hemsky4952328-132711
R. Jones59141125-53421
C. Potter4531518-141610
T. Gilbert4731417-41221
J. Petry5521517-101810
E. Belanger5931013-112810
R. Whitney3121012-10820
B. Eager497411-39002
L. Smid623710-14000
A. Sutton403710+46001
L. Petrell44459-64000
M. Paajarvi41268-7400
A. Lander56246-81200
T. Peckham46123-17400
C. Barker20202+01611
J. Green7112-6710
D. Hordichuk27011-54000
C. Teubert20011-41800
R. O'Marra7011+0400
A. Plante3011+0200
P. Cornet2011+0000
T. Chorney5000-1000
L. Omark5000-2200
T. Hartikainen5000-4000
M. Kytnar1000+0000
D. Dubnyk3313-15-1889582.88.908
N. Khabibulin3412-16-5829552.60.914
B. Wheeler63133851+84362
E. Kane57241842+64563
D. Byfuglien49103242-106042
A. Ladd65201737+13934
K. Wellwood63132437+4431
B. Little57181533-21846
N. Antropov5792029-23630
A. Burmistrov59131225+43410
T. Enstrom4541721+12821
Z. Bogosian5331821-75110
T. Stapleton4681119-7842
T. Glass655914-115401
J. Slater618513-103301
J. Oduya6321113-93301
R. Hainsey41099+6600
C. Thorburn64358-118100
M. Stuart63358-38001
M. Flood30347+0811
A. Miettinen29044-7000
E. Fehr33112-61200
B. MacLean5022+1200
R. Jones29101-1600
M. Scheifele7101+0010
J. Jaffray13011-1700
A. Kulda9000+3400
K. McArdle9000-3400
A. Gagnon7000-1000
P. Cormier6000+0000
C. Klingberg6000-1400
B. Festerling5000-1200
B. Maxwell4000-2000
P. Postma3000+0000
D. Meech2000+1400
S. Machacek2000+0000
O. Pavelec5323-21-714415822.82.909
C. Mason177-6-1323502.26.909
P. Mannino10-0-0040.001.000