EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers are looking to shake off a disappointing road trip, in which they won just one of four games, and get back to a place where they’ve had some success.
Edmonton is 9-5-1 at home this season, and tonight they host the Winnipeg Jets (6-10-1 on the road) in their final game before the holiday break.
“It’s tough. That road trip didn’t end the way we wanted it to,” said Taylor Hall. “We have a chance tonight to go into the break feeling good. Some uncharacteristic plays and efforts on that road trip so coming back home where we had a lot of success, I think guys are feeling good.”
As professionals, there should be no looking ahead to the break for either team as they have one more to go before they can go their separate ways. Their next game after tonight is Boxing Day, in Vancouver.
“I don’t think anyone is thinking of their flights after or where they’re going,” said Hall. “It’s about the game at hand. I think everyone is committed to trying to get some positive momentum going into this break.”
FAYNE IS BACK
With Brandon Davidson out of the lineup due to an injury suffered in Denver, the Oilers have recalled Mark Fayne from the Bakersfield Condors. Fayne played 24 games for Edmonton this season before being sent down to the AHL.
“It’s obviously a humbling experience,” said Fayne. “You can use all the cliche terms. It was an eye-opener, a wake-up call. In simplest terms, just got to get better.”
The Oilers expect nothing less than a good performance from Fayne, who knows what it takes to play in the League.
“He’s a veteran defenceman that spent some time down there,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “We wanted him to get his legs moving a little bit better, find some pace to his game. I feel good about bringing him and putting him back in. He’s played in the league before, he played many games and it’s not like you’re bringing up a rookie. I expect a good night from him.”
The Oilers want to see more out of the the 28-year-old blueliner.
“I think he has way more in the bag than he’s given usI think he knows that too,” said McLellan. “Just the pace, the execution in his game, playing with some authority. I believe he can get back to that. Careers are long. Maybe you do get into a stale segment and sometimes you just need to be jolted a little bit. He’s still an NHL calibre defenceman who we are going to count on.”
With Justin Schultz, the Oilers want to see more as well. They know he can play better than his most recent game, in which the defenceman went -2 against the Avalanche in Denver.
“You’ve got to show up to the rink and be confident,” said McLellan. “You’ve got to believe that you can do it. You’ve got to exude a presence and then you’ve got to go get it. He’s got to bring that to the table and let the game fall where it might. I think there’s been, in the past, a lot of focus on his physicality or his ability to battle. I think he’s a smart player who needs to use the mental part of the game a little better. Just executing like you’ve been there before, execute like you’re going to again. Play with some authority. He can do that. But he’s got to believe he can.”
Cam Talbot will get his first home start since October 31, which was a 5-4 loss to Calgary. As for the forward group, no changes are expected as the lines at morning skate were unchanged from those in Denver.
The defence is a little more up in the air. The defensive pairings posted below could change ahead of or during the game.
“Our D will be all over the map tonight. I can tell you that,” said McLellan. “Don’t read too much into the morning skate. Once we settle on a pair, we might go with that.”
Season series: The Winnipeg Jets swept their season series with the Edmonton Oilers in 2014-15, including a 4-1 win March 23 at Rexall Place. Jets center Bryan Little and defenseman Toby Enstrom and Jacob Trouba each had three points in the season series. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led Edmonton with three goals.
Jets team scope: Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is expected to start, but coach Paul Maurice has not confirmed. Winnipeg starts a stretch of seven of nine games on the road tied for the third-fewest road wins in the NHL (six). Having lost 10 of the past 13 road games (3-9-1), Winnipeg continue a two-game road trip Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. "It's tough to explain sometimes," defenseman Mark Stuart said of the road record, according to the Jets website. "You're together as a team [on the road] and don't have to worry about anything else but hockey and concentrating on the games. You can get on a roll. That's what we need to do."
Oilers team scope: Edmonton recalled defenseman Mark Fayne from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. Fayne, 28, had one assist in five AHL games and has played 24 games with Edmonton. Fayne could replace defenseman Brandon Davidson, who was injured in a 5-1 loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday; his status is unknown. Edmonton will try to end a three-game skid that has followed a six-game winning streak. Opponents have outscored Edmonton 13-3 during the losing streak. Defenseman Oscar Klefbom (undisclosed) remains out, along with forwards Rob Klinkhammer (foot), Connor McDavid (fractured clavicle) and Nail Yakupov (ankle).