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Oilers play Blue Jackets at 6:00 p.m.

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

With six games in the books, the Edmonton Oilers have finally made it to the seventh and final game of their current homestand.

The homestand has been a successful one at 4-1-1 so far as the team has risen from ninth in the conference to third by virtue of being in top spot in the Northwest Division. With such a strong home record, the Oilers are one of only two teams with 10 or more wins at home.

Columbus has had its struggles this season. A stretch of eight games without a win earlier this month ultimately cost head coach Gerard Gallant his job. In his first four games with the team, new head man Ken Hitchcock has one victory.

Last meeting between these teams, the Oilers came out on top by a score of 4-1 back on November 10 at Columbus. Goals by Ales Hemsky, Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Smyth in the second period made it a 3-0 game. Anson Carter replied to close the gap but Smyth scored early in the third period for the Oilers to put the game out of reach. Dwayne Roloson made 26 saves in the win.

OILERS TO WATCH: Ryan Smyth has traditionally played very well against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In 20 career games, he has 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points. Earlier this season he scored two goals against the Jackets Ladislav Smid has continued to get better every game for the Oilers. His ice-time went over the 30-minute mark for the first time in his career Tuesday against Anaheim.

BLUE JACKETS TO WATCH: After scoring more than 30 goals a year ago, former Oiler Anson Carter has had a trying season with only three goals through his first 24 games but he did score one of those goals against Edmonton Rick Nash started the season out slow but has slowly picked up his game. With 15 points he ranks second on the Blue Jackets behind David Vyborny Sergei Fedorov started the season on the injury list but has 12 points in 18 games since coming back.

OILERS RECALL JACQUES: The Edmonton Oilers recalled forward Jean-Francois Jacques from Wilkes-Barre on Friday. He is expected to be inserted into the lineup this evening if he can make it to the city on time. Due to snowstorms in Chicago, his flight out of Wilkes-Barre was cancelled last night. He departed this morning and is routed through Denver and should be arriving in the early afternoon.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is out; Columbus – Bryan Berard (lower back) is out. Duvie Westcott (finger) is out. Fredrik Modin (lower body) is probable.

FAST FACTS: Edmonton has only ever lost once in regulation on home ice to Columbus in its history. They dropped a 2-1 decision on November 2, 2001 Ken Hitchcock is the fourth head coach in the Blue Jackets six-year history. The Oilers have had eight head coaches in 27 seasons Two players remain from the Blue Jackets inaugural game on October 7, 2000: Defenceman Rostislav Klesla and RW David Vyborny.
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