EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers take on the Jets tonight in a rematch of their pre-season meeting on Wednesday. The Oilers took that first game 3-2 in regulation. But tonight they head on the road to MTS Centre, which can be a hostile place to play as the visiting team.
“It’s a loud environment,” said Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl. “It’s fun to play in there. I played there last year once, I think. It’s very loud and the fans get into it. It should be a very good test for us.”
Noticeably out of the lineup tonight will be 2015 first-overall pick Connor McDavid, who is expected to play in Saskatoon against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and then again the rest of the way throughout the remainder of the pre-season schedule.
Ben Scrivens starts in net tonight and Anders Nilsson will play on Saturday in Saskatoon. The rest of the Oilers lines and defensive pairings will be confirmed closer to game time.
OPPORTUNITY FOR DRAISAITL
One line Head Coach Todd McLellan did confirm following morning skate is Draisaitl in between Taylor Hall and Lauri Korpikoski. The German will get a chance to not only play his natural pivot position against the Jets, but also the opportunity to play alongside the team’s top left-winger.
“Tonight will be a good evaluating tool for us to use for use for Leon,” said Coach McLellan. “(The Jets) have some size. They’ll have a veteran lineup. He’ll have to haul around Mark Scheifele or Adam Lowry probably most of the night, and he’s going to play in the middle. He’s going to play with Taylor tonight. Great opportunity for Leon to play what is his natural position with some pretty good linemates.”
Draisaitl has played in every pre-season contest so far, including every Young Stars tournament game and the Rookie Camp finale vs. the U of A.
ON THE BUBBLE
For players trying to make an impression on the Oilers coaches before they head to the AHL, or even those who are battling for roster spots, these pre-season games get progressively more important. Opportunity begins to shrink.
“We all know as an organization, whether it’s management, coaches, players, we know what’s coming,” said McLellan. “As the opportunity narrows a bit more, you’ve got to really define yourself as a player. You have to show us what ingredient you bring. If you’re just vanilla, there’s a lot of vanilla players out there. What is your strength as an individual? I’m not talking about anybody in specific, but just overall. What do you do? What do you bring? Are you willing to bring it every night? Then let us try and put that into the equation and build lines as we go. Camp is getting narrow. It’s going to get more narrow as we go. The opportunity is going to diminish for individual players. Now is the time.”
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (3-0-0) at JETS (0-1-1)
TV: Streamed live on edmontonoilers.com within the Oilers region (Alberta/Saskatchewan/NWT); TSN3 in Manitoba only
The Oilers head to Winnipeg to take on the Jets in a rematch of their pre-season showdown from Wednesday night. In the first of the two exhibition meetings, the Oilers took a 3-2 win at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
Justin Schultz opened scoring at 8:03 of the first period, on the power play. Edmonton would get another power play goal from Jordan Eberle at 1:50 of the third. After the Jets answered with back-to-back goals by Ben Chiarot and Adam Lowry, Matt Hendricks sealed the victory for the Oilers in style. At 17:48 of the final frame, Hendricks scored on a penalty shot for the game-winning goal.
The Oilers were very pleased with the performances of a pair of defencemen. Both Schultz and Griffin Reinhart earned their head coach’s praises.
The Jets are likely to suit up a much more veteran NHL lineup Friday night than the one they did on Wednesday. Their camp roster was cut down by 11 on Thursday.
Axel Blomqvist, Austen Brassard, Aaron Harstad, David Leggio, Jimmy Lodge, Jussi Olinuora, Brennan Serville and Pater Stoykewych were assigned to the Manitoba Moose AHL training camp. Jansen Harkins (Prince George), Matteo Gennaro (Prince Albert) and Michael Spacek (Red Deer) were all assigned to their respective WHL teams.
The Oilers lineup in their rematch with the Jets is likely to be a mix between their Group A and Group B players, which they have practiced with since camp opened with few changes due to injury. Teddy Purcell and Griffin Reinhart were absent on Thursday morning due to minor injuries. Check back after morning skate on Friday morning for more updates.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says the team will travel with both Group A and B this weekend for their stops in Winnipeg and Saskatoon (vs. Minnesota on Saturday). Their game-night rosters are likely to include players from both groups.
Edmonton is 3-0-0 this pre-season after the win over the Jets and two wins over Calgary in a pair of split-squad games. The Jets are 0-1-1 after a loss to the Oilers and an overtime loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.
To allow teams to gain experience with the new 3-on-3 overtime format, the Oilers game in Winnipeg will go to a five-minute 3-on-3 period regardless of the score at the end of the third. If the game is not tied at the end of three, the overtime period will not count toward the win-loss result and if overtime is scoreless there will not be a shootout upon its conclusion. If the game is tied after three periods, the game will go to overtime and, if scoreless, be followed by a shootout to determine a winner.