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At the Rink: Oilers at Jets

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- A one-game layover is an opportunity for the Winnipeg Jets to take two points and further ease right wing Drew Stafford and defenseman Tyler Myers into their lineup.

The Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at MTS Centre on Monday, their lone home game in a stretch of five games. Winnipeg returns home after a 1-1-0 road trip that finished with a 5-4 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Another two-game trip begins Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

Jets coach Paul Maurice has praised Stafford since the team acquired him and Myers from the Buffalo Sabres in a blockbuster trade Feb. 11. Maurice rewarded him with a spot on the top line with left wing Andrew Ladd and center Bryan Little.

The Jets had Sunday off, giving Myers and Stafford a chance to relax after the whirlwind of the trade and two road games.

“I think the thing I like the most is how excited [Myers and Stafford] are to be here,” Maurice said. “It has been a seamless fit in a very short time.”

Right wing Blake Wheeler will move to the second line with left wing Mathieu Perreault and center Mark Scheifele. Maurice had made those changes midway through the game against Detroit and opted to stick with them against Edmonton.

“I want to do my best to help this team win games,” Stafford said. “[Myers and I] want to use this excitement to help the cause because these guys have been working for a really long time to turn this around for this organization.”

Maurice said Monday that he had considered reuniting Scheifele and Wheeler before the Detroit game.

“[Wheeler’s] speed is something that the other coaches take notice of,” Maurice said. “It’s something that you have to be aware of in terms of [which defensemen will oppose] them. Not having [Wheeler] with Little and Ladd means that [opposing coaches] have to make a decision.”

Myers, part of a pairing with Toby Enstrom, has also impressed Maurice.

“I’m really pleased with Tyler’s presence at our end of the ice,” Maurice said. “His stick broke up a lot of plays.”

Maurice also broke away from the goaltending rotation that he has used for the past two weeks. Rookie Michael Hutchinson will start his second consecutive game.

“I just like the fight in [Hutchinson’s] game,” Maurice said in explaining his decision. “The rotation for me was a function of our schedule more than anything else. We had two really tough [schedule] blocks. It also was working.”

Edmonton held an optional morning skate Monday. The Oilers are finishing a season-high six-game road trip and are fresh off a 7-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. A win Monday would move them to 3-3-0 on the road trip.

Left wing Matt Hendricks (lower body) skated Monday, but Oilers coach Todd Nelson said that he will not play and miss his second consecutive game. Center Boyd Gordon (undisclosed) did not practice and will be a game-time decision, Nelson said.

Right wing Matt Fraser will dress after being a healthy scratch for the past three games. Left wing Rob Klinkhammer returned home to be with his wife, who is expecting their first child.

With Klinkhammer, Hendricks and possibly Gordon out, Nelson said that dressing seven defensemen may be a possibility. Keith Aulie would be the seventh defenseman.

“Right now there are a lot of question marks,” Nelson said of his lineup.

Goaltender Viktor Fasth will start for the Oilers.

Here are the projected lineups:


Teddy Purcell - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Ryan Hamilton - Derek Roy - Nail Yakupov

Benoit Pouliot - Anton Lander - Iiro Pakarinen

Luke Gazdic - Matt Fraser

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Martin Marincin - Mark Fayne

Keith Aulie

Viktor Fasth

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Rob Klinkhammer

Injured: Boyd Gordon (undisclosed), Taylor Hall (foot), Nikita Nikitin (shoulder), Tyler Pitlick (upper body), Ben Scrivens (hamstring)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Drew Stafford

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler

Chris Thorburn - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik

TJ Galiardi - Jim Slater - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Michael Hutchinson

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Jay Harrison, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Matt Halischuk (lower body)

Status report: Nelson said he will be looking for a better defensive performance from Fraser, who has six goals in 41 games this season. “Matt is a guy who has some pretty good offensive instincts, but we want to see a good two-way game and him to be strong in the defensive zone,” Nelson said. “When pucks come along the walls, he has to battle and get those pucks out or make a play.” … Harrison will miss his 10th consecutive game as a healthy scratch. Postma will sit out his 18th consecutive game and has not dressed since Jan. 8. … Hutchinson has not played back-to-back games since Jan. 31-Feb. 2. … Pavelec’s most recent stretch of consecutive games was Nov. 20-23.

Who's hot: Yakupov brings a four-game points streak (one goal, three assists) into the game. Yakupov has three assists in his past three games. … Byfuglien has a four-game points streak (two goals, five assists).

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