Edmonton Oilers (15-30-5) at Winnipeg Jets (21-23-5) 1:00 p.m., MTS Centre TV: CBC Radio: TSN 1290
So far so good for Winnipeg and their new coach, 2 games, 2 wins, 10 goals for, and all of a sudden a little hope back in Manitoba. Paul Maurice puts his perfect record as coach of the Jets on the line Saturday afternoon in the first game of Hockey day in Canada when the Edmonton Oilers visit the MTS Centre. So far this season the Oilers and Jets have split their two games with Winnipeg earning a 5-4 opening night victory in Edmonton and the Oilers dominating the Jets right before Christmas, and heading into the break on the high of a 6-2 win. It is a huge day for hockey in Canada and the Jets and Oilers kick it off, Lets Go!
The Edmonton Oilers are a team that is young, and as Paul Maurice said today, faces many of the same challenges that the Winnipeg Jets do. Plenty of skill, just not quite ready to take that next step into a playoff position. Much like the Jets, the Oilers recently went through some changes as Wednesday they dealt their number one goalie, quickly acquiring a new number 1 as they got Ben Scrivens in another trade. The deals did not pay off immediately for the Oilers however as the Minnesota Wild victimized them Thursday night. The Oilers could only manage 20 shots and looked out of the Wilds league in a 4-1 loss. This was the Oilers 6th straight road loss and have lost 8 of 10 overall. It appears the Oilers are on the path to another number one overall pick, however with all the offensive skill, the Oilers can still break out on any night and shock their opponents.
Since hiring Paul Maurice Winnipeg is 2-0 and have outscored their opponents 10-3. Sure they have not had the toughest opponents, however it is a positive for the Jets who have struggled to find consistency all season. One spot where the Jets have shown absolute improvement is with their secondary scoring. With the changes, and the addition of Dustin Byfuglien to the top 9, all of the three top lines are a legitimate threat to score. This is an important game for the Jets, the chance for a three game win streak cannot be passed up. Especially when they go on possibly their hardest road trip of the season next week. Under Maurice consistency and full 60 minute games are the main goals, and so far so good. The Oilers however are a team that has given them trouble this season, especially on the back end. Winnipeg has not been able to contain the young superstars of the Oilers and have surrendered 10 goals in two games. They will need to be better Saturday afternoon to continue this hot streak.
Earn an every day spot: Friday Winnipegs Grant Clitsome had season ending back surgery opening up a full time spot on the blue line. Right now Keaton Ellerby and Adam Pardy are the two that will fight it out for that spot. If the Jets can get solid play from their third pairing they will be in good shape to get their third straight.
Take Advantage: So far the Jets have done well with their new coach, but the schedule has helped as well. Saturday is their last chance at that as following this game with the Oilers the Jets are on the road in San Jose, Anaheim, and Chicago. Get the easy points when you can.
Goaltending: There is a lot of scoring skill on both these teams. It will come down to how the goaltenders play in this game to see who gets the W.
Ondrej Pavelec (13-19-4) GAA: 3.05 SV% .899
Ben Scrivens (7-6-4) GAA: 2.09 SV% .928
Slater WPG, (Sports Hernia) out
Postma WPG, (blood clot) out
Halischuk WPG, (arm) out
Clitsome WPG, (illness) out
Kane WPG, (hand) out
Hemsky EDM, (ankle) day-to-day
Joensuu EDM, (flu) day-to-day
Potter EDM, (groin) out
Larsen EDM, (illness) out
Jets offense keeps rolling, D does enough
Jets 4 Oilers 3
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