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PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Jets

Oilers wrap up the 2017 calendar year with a game against the Winnipeg Jets

by Marc Ciampa & Chris Wescott / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers face off against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday to wrap up the 2017 calendar year looking to put an end to a two-game slide. 

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

Read the pre-game report below as well as videos and much more.

Video: OILERS TODAY | vs. Jets Pre-Game

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Saturday's Oilers practice plus World Juniors updates.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers had a full day of practice on Saturday but only practiced one thing the entire time: the penalty kill. 

"We had to have a review. We changed a few things, clarified a few things," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. "Practice time is valuable. We neglected to address other areas of the game (because) that's the most important area right now for us."

In Friday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Oilers gave up two power play goals. They were goals number 22 and 23 allowed on the season. The next closest team in the NHL in home power play goals allowed is Nashville with 16. 

"It's not just about last night. It's about the overall presentation. I was asked the question again last night, 'How do you perform at 58% at home and 85% on the road? We're dead last at home and third or fourth in the League on the road. To me, that tells me that a lot of what we're doing is right and yet we're not getting it all the time."

Mark Letestu was asked the same question. The Oilers have only allowed 10 power play goals on the road all season, only three more than the top team in the NHL which is Boston. 

"I wish I knew," he said. "30% is a bit extreme. There has to be factors. I'd have to go back and watch it all but I don't know if you can say that we're less focused here. I don't think that's it.

"Maybe we've had a few extra bounces go against us (at home) but 30% is 30%. That's a big disparity. There's something structurally or mentally that's lacking when we're at home that needs to improve."

OILERS STILL ROLLING

Letestu did make sure to point out that despite dropping their last two games since the Christmas break, overall the team has done very well recently. 

"We're still 4-1-1 in our last six. We've got points in five of six. Our last two haven't gotten the results we've wanted but I think we're trending in the right direction. I think our game's going in the right direction."

Even recent games that the Oilers have lost, such as the 1-0 loss in Toronto, they deserved a better fate. 

"Today was a little more down than it needed to be," Letestu continued. "In the last little while, we've played good hockey. It hasn't exactly gone the way we wanted in our last two but we're playing better. There's no reason not to be confident right now. You have to take a big picture look at it and be positive. There's a lot of hockey left and we can't get down your ourselves."

'WE'RE IN THE PLAYOFFS NOW' 

Right now, the Oilers sit six points behind Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A message that Coach McLellan has stressed in recent days is that because of the team's slow start at the beginning of the year, they can't afford any downswings in their play. 

"We continue to talk about the process," McLellan stated. "We try to get them to improve every night. We try to make sure they're prepared to play the next game. Parking good and bad games right now is real important. The last time I used that descriptor was in the playoffs. We're in the playoffs now." 

Four teams sit between the Oilers and Wild for that last playoff spot: Colorado, Calgary, Chicago and Anaheim. There is a three-point spread between those teams. 

"We talked about the ability, the dog days and to write off bad games. We don't have that luxury. We're in the playoffs right now so we've got to park bad ones, park good ones and move on. And that's all we can do."

TIGHTENING UP ON D

Coach McLellan was asked about what to expect on Sunday in the game between Edmonton and Winnipeg as that game was a high-scoring affair. The bench boss said that the Oilers need to ensure that doesn't happen again. 

"Last night, we scored three and lost and that's happened too much with our team," he began. "From my perspective, from our team I'd like to see us tighten things up and not give up as much."

The Oilers have given up 11 goals in two games against the Jets this season. 

"I think the offence will continue to be there and it'll come. I don't think it's going to come in the form of the number five on a nightly basis and we've been giving up four. So we have to tighten up. I don't know what Winnipeg's going to do, or how they'll react, but we do need to tighten up. Our two games post-Christmas we've given up eight goals."

-- Marc Ciampa, EdmontonOilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (17-18-3) vs. JETS (22-11-6)

TV: 5 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet

Head-to-Head: 

The Oilers and Jets have played each other twice already this season, with Winnipeg coming out on top in both meetings.

The Jets beat the Oilers in Edmonton 5-2 back on October 9, and then survived 4-3 in Winnipeg on December 27, in the first game back from the holiday break.

Edmonton will look for revenge Sunday, in the final meeting of the season between the two clubs.

Oilers team scope:

The Oilers headed into the holidays with good vibes and a lot of confidence, having won four straight games. Coming out of the break, the Oilers have lost two straight.

They did manage to earn a point in their most recent game, scoring two goals in the final 2:19 against Chicago to force overtime. Patrick Kane scored the game-winner 50 seconds into OT, to lift the Blackhawks to victory.

Edmonton has points in 11 of their last 17 games.

Jets team scope:

The Jets are somewhat of an opposite of the Oilers, in that they had lost consecutive games heading into Christmas, but have since won both of theirs coming out of the break.

The Jets beat Edmonton 4-3 and then followed it up with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Friday night.

The Jets are 4-1-1 in their last six games.

By the Numbers:

Connor McDavid leads the Oilers in scoring with 45 points (14-31-45) through 38 games. Leon Draisaitl is second on the team with 32 points (10-22-32) in 34 games. Draisailt is on a six-game point streak. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins leads the team in goals with 15. 

Blake Wheeler sits atop the Jets roster in scoring with 44 points (10-34-44) in 39 games this season. Patrick Laine leads the team in goals with 18 so far.

Injury Report:

OILERS - The Oilers have no injuries listed.

JETS - T. Enstrom (lower body) is on IR, D. Byfuglien (lower body) is on IR, M. Scheifele (upper body) is on IR

-- Chris Wescott, EdmontonOilers.com

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