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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Predators

The Oilers host the Predators at Rogers Place on Hockey Day in Canada

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers host the Nashville Predators at Rogers Place on Hockey Day in Canada.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet & CBC or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs NSH 02.07.20

INSIDE THE OILERS

News, videos and lines from practice on Friday, including a look back at Tyler Benson's Oilers debut.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - Practice was winding down Friday at Rogers Place when Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett gathered his club at centre ice.

The bench boss felt a congregation was necessary given his group is currently on a two-game losing streak, leaving points on the table against their Pacific Division counterparts Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks, during what has been and will continue to be a wild, roller-coaster race to the playoffs.

Tippett didn't hesitate to share the message he animated on ice in his post-practice availability.

"Don't turn the puck over in our own end," the bench boss, expressionless, said. 

"Probably not as nice as that but it was around that theme."

After navigating a 6-1-2 month of January, the Oilers have come out as victors in just one of three games in February. Since the Orange & Blue made a statement in an 8-3 crushing over their provincial rivals, the club has been outscored 9-3 and have amassed 21 giveaways.

The onus, now, is to return to the form the club exhibited during their winning ways.

"You try to figure out where you can grab it back," Tippett said. "What you're not doing now that you were doing two games ago. Ultimately, it comes down to there being some things we think we have to do to be successful at a higher level than we've done in the last two games. 

"We have to get back to that level."

Zack Kassian agreed with his head coach and couldn't explain the Oilers fallback in recent performances.

"It's unacceptable," Kassian said. "We're in a playoff hunt. Individually and collectively as a group, we have to be better."

The winger admitted that consecutive losses can cause frustration but maintained the need to stay on course as the Oilers are still in the Pacific Division playoff picture with 62 points and 28 games remaining.

"We're not on a 10-game losing streak… We haven't gained any ground but we haven't lost any ground. We just got to snap out of it and be positive," Kassian said.

STAYING WITH THE STANDARD

The Oilers 4-2 double-up over the Stanley Cup champs and then the club's 8-3 drubbing over Calgary were precedent-setting games, Coach Tippett believes.

However, since then, that level of play has not been executed. 

"There are games that you play where you set a standard for your team," Tippett started. 

"We had some games there - St. Louis, Calgary - you set standards. You set new heights for your team. Those are standards you got to try to get to every night. When you don't get to those standards, then it's frustrating. To get back to that standard we were at, that's what we think will make us the most successful."

In their last 11 matches, the Oilers have averaged 4.23 goals for and 3.15 goals against, also showing strongly in the special teams department with a 27 percent power play and 81 percent killing rate. 

"Hopefully we can get back closer to that standard we want to be at to get back on the winning track," said Tippett.

What could help on Saturday is the fact that the Oilers will play in their home rink of Rogers Place, where they are 4-1-1 in their last six.

"We just have to go back to the simple stuff," forward Gaëtan Haas said. "The mindset has to be like at the beginning of the year: play simple, get out of the zone and play good in the D-zone. 

"We have enough talent on this team to win games."

LINEUP NOTES

Oscar Klefbom did not skate on Friday but Tippett confirmed that the defenceman took a maintenance day. 

Mike Smith, who has not played since last Saturday, took shots in the starter's crease, which means he is expected to get the nod in goal.

Lines at Friday's practice appeared as follows:

Gagner - McDavid - Kassian
Nugent-Hopkins - Draisaitl - Yamamoto
Khaira - Sheahan - Archibald
Benson - Haas - Chiasson

Nurse - Bear
Lagesson - Larsson
Jones - Benning

Smith
Koskinen

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-RAW | Zack Kassian 02.07.20

PREVIEW

OILERS (28-20-6) vs PREDATORS (26-20-7)

TV: 5:08 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet & CBC

Head-to-Head:

This is the second of three meetings between the Oilers and Predators this season. 

The two clubs met back on Jan. 14 in a game that saw Leon Draisaitl score two goals and add an assist in what ended as a 4-2 winning effort for Edmonton.

Filip Forsberg and Colin Blackwell tallied the only two markers for the Preds while Pekka Rinne stopped 28 of 31 shots.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers enter Saturday's Hockey Day in Canada tilt on a two-game slide, being defeated by the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 on Tuesday then losing 6-3 against the Sharks on Thursday.

Edmonton remains in the tight Pacific Division race, however, sitting third in the division with 62 points behind the first-place Vancouver Canucks (65) points and Vegas Golden Knights (63 points).

The Orange & Blue are 8-3-2 in their last 13 games and have outscored their competition 55-41 during that time. In their last six games at Rogers Place, the Oilers are 4-1-1.

Predators team scope:

The Predators are coming off a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames, landing in Edmonton on a two-game winning streak.

The visitors are 6-4 in their last 10 games played and are winners of four of their last five outings, with the lone L coming in a 3-0 score vs. the Vegas Golden Knights.

On the road, Nashville is 7-1-1 in its last nine, outscoring opponents 31-23. The Preds remain one point out of the Western Conference wild card with 59 points.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers have scored 171 times on 1,609 shots on goal this season, with their 10.6 shooting percentage being second-highest among Western Conference teams. ... Edmonton is 17-2-2 when leading after the 1st and 20-1-2 when leading after the 2nd. ... The Oilers are allowing an NHL-high 3.58 goals against per game at home. ... The Orange & Blue are 2-11-3 in their last 16 games vs. the Predators since the start of the 2014-15 season.

The Predators are averaging 33.5 shots on goal per game this season, which is 5th most in the NHL. ... Nashville is 15-9-3 on the road this season, outscoring opponents 96-87. ... The club is averaging 3.56 goals per game on the road this season, which is 3rd most in the NHL. ... Predators Captain Roman Josi has 53 points (14 G, 39 A) through 53 games this season. ... Josi has 11 points (3 G, 8 A) and a plus-10 rating in 21 career games vs. the Oilers.

Injury Report:

OILERS - Kris Russell (concussion protocol) is on IR; Joakim Nygard (hand) is on IR; James Neal (foot) is day-to-day.

PREDATORS - Calle Jarnkrok (illness) is day-to-day; Ryan Ellis (upper body) is on IR.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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