WINNIPEG, MB - The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a season-high six-game homestand tonight against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.
The Oilers come into the game extremely banged up, with five players out for sure (Hall, Pitlick, Scrivens, Nikitin and Hendricks) and a sixth very questionable in Boyd Gordon. Rob Klinkhammer is also not with the team. He is in Lethbridge with his wife, awaiting the birth of his child.
“Right now there’s a lot of question marks. Hendricks is out. Gordon is a game-time decision. But we have different options (because) we had two healthy guys out last time,” said Oilers interim head coach Todd Nelson.
Those options are winger Matt Fraser, who was a healthy scratch on Saturday in Ottawa, and Keith Aulie who could dress as a seventh defenceman.
“It’s a strong possibility," said Nelson of dressing seven blueliners. "Obviously, if Gordon’s able to go we’ll make a decision on defence.”
TOUGH BATTLE TONIGHT
The Oilers will be playing a Winnipeg team that is in a battle for their playoff lives and are coming off a huge shootout win in Detroit on Saturday night.
“They’re a big, strong team that plays a pretty quick game so we’re going to have to have good puck support all over the ice. We’re going to have to be strong in front of our net. Any kind of loose puck battles, we’re going to have to fight hard to win those,” Nelson began.
“Right now, we’re just looking at improvement over last game. Once again, it doesn’t matter who we have in the lineup, we have to have 20 guys going.”
Coach Nelson added that he hopes to see the team bounce back as consistency has been an issue for the squad -- 9-10-2 since he took over solely behind the bench.
“It has been inconsistent,” he said. “We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some games that didn’t go our way. When those games don’t go your way, you can learn a lot as a group. Right now, we’re facing a bit of adversity which is not a horrible thing. We have been inconsistent and we’re striving to be more consistent. We had three good games in a row and then we had a tough one against Ottawa. We’ll have to see how the guys react tonight.”
FRASER DRAWS IN
Matt Fraser talked about getting his return to the lineup tonight against Winnipeg after missing the last few.
“I think keeping the game simple. Being good along the walls and shooting the puck when I have an opportunity. It’s never easy sitting out but you have to find something to bring to the table that they need and they want in the lineup.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (16-32-9) at JETS (29-19-10)
TV: SNOL, TSN3
Season series: The Winnipeg Jets won 3-2 in overtime in the first game this season against the Edmonton Oilers at MTS Centre on Dec. 3. Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba had a goal and two assists.
Oilers team scope: A win against Winnipeg would finish the Oilers' season-high six-game road trip at 3-3-0. Edmonton lost 7-2 against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. The Oilers practiced in Winnipeg on Sunday, but forwards Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and Rob Klinkhammer did not skate, according to the Oilers website; Klinkhammer is with his wife awaiting the birth of their child. The website also reported that goaltender Ben Scrivens (hamstring), who was placed on injured reserve Saturday, is a possibility to play after the road trip ends. "We had a good meeting before practice," coach Todd Nelson told the Oilers website Sunday. "We had a spirited practice out there. The guys competed hard. I liked our approach today." After facing Winnipeg, the Oilers start a three-game homestand Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.
Jets team scope: The Jets return home for one game after a 5-4 shootout win at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday completed their two-game road trip. It was the Jets' first game against an Eastern Conference opponent since the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 29. Winnipeg had Sunday off. The Jets' penalty kill is struggling again; after going four games without allowing a power-play goal (13-for-13), the Jets have given up two power-play goals in each of their past two games and have been shorthanded 11 times. Once a top-10 penalty kill, the Jets were ranked 14th as of Sunday (81.4 percent). Winnipeg has been shorthanded an NHL-leading 237 times this season, 41 more than the next-closest team (Pittsburgh Penguins). With coach Paul Maurice continuing his goaltending rotation, the Jets are expected to start Ondrej Pavelec on Monday. Winnipeg begins another two-game road trip against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.