Tonight, the Edmonton Oilers take on the Winnipeg Jets in the final game before the Christmas break for both teams. After taking Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off this week -- mandatory days as per the new CBA.
Despite the holiday break coming up, for Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins it's no different than any other game for his squad.
“It’s the same as a game in November or April. The guys, they focus in on game day. I don’t think it’s any different than if they had tomorrow being a mandatory day off. They might have plans with their family or whatever,” said Eakins. “I don’t think they’ll be overly focused and I don’t think they’d take the other approach and not be focused at all. It’s game day.”
The Oilers are coming off a 6-0 loss at home to the St. Louis Blues and will be looking to rebound. Eakins expects to see a response from his side.
“I will refer to (Saturday's 6-0 loss) tonight because I think you have to have a response. I think the response, you want it right out of the gate. But then, not leave it right out of the gate. I thought we came out great in the first period last game coming off a bad road trip like that but then we left in the first period.”
The Oilers had a 10-1 edge in shots on St. Louis in the opening period before letting that game get away from them.
“We don’t want the response to be, play great for 10 minutes and then let it slide away.”
HALL AND PERRON TOGETHER AT LAST
Taylor Hall and David Perron will be united for the first time this season as Eakins shook up the lines. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be in the middle.
“It’s two guys who are very strong on the puck. We’re really trying to establish a cycle game so we’re hoping with those two guys and Nuge we can get some zone time,” Eakins stated.
Perron was looking forward to lining up with Hall.
“It’s the first time I’ve played with Hallsy tonight, in 35 games. I’m excited about it," Perron remarked. "He’s a guy who you can give him the puck in the neutral zone and he has a lot of speed going. That’s what I’m going to try and do tonight.”
Sam Gagner -- who will be playing without a mouthguard for the first time since coming back from his jaw injury -- will play with Jordan Eberle and Jesse Joensuu.
“We were looking for a match for Gagner. Ebs seems to be that match. That’s a pair that we like. It was kind of two thought processes that went into it," Eakins began.
"The way David has played and the way Taylor has played, that should be a really good line. And given some chemistry with Gagner and Eberle we hope that bears some fruit as well.”
Mark Arcobello, Ryan Jones and Philip Larsen all remain injured (or ill in Larsen's case), did not skate this morning and will not play tonight.
BRYZ STARTS AGAIN
After being in goal for the entire 6-0 loss on Saturday, Eakins is going back with Ilya Bryzgalov tonight.
“Get him right back in there. Let’s go. Bryz wasn’t happy with his play. That loss was certainly not on him. It was 3-0 before anything went sideways for him. He’s a veteran guy. He’s not rattled by the last game. He wants to get back in the net and give us a chance to win.”
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
JETS (16-17-5) at OILERS (11-24-3)
TV: TSN-JETS, SNET-W
Last 10: Winnipeg 4-5-1; Edmonton 2-7-1
Season series: This is the second of three games between the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers. The Jets beat the Oilers 5-4 on Oct. 1 at Rexall Place.
Big story: The Oilers are reeling again. After a rough start, it appeared they were headed on the right track. Instead, Edmonton enters Monday with a six-game losing streak. Each defeat has come in regulation.
"Have we not done well this year? Absolutely," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins told the team website Sunday. "Have I seen, quietly, progress in players and in our game? I do. But I understand that the fans and the people in the city are going 'Hey, you — and I mean me, Dallas — you've been losing for seven years.' I understand that.
"They look at the jersey, they look at the colors, they look at the team on the ice. And I'm okay with that, because I fully understand it."
Jets: Winnipeg's brief two-game trip to Western Canada concludes Monday night. The Jets fell short in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Sunday. Evander Kane had the lone goal and Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves.
"It's tough … they're a good team," defenseman Zach Bogosian said after the loss. "I thought we played pretty well against them … 1-1 going into the third, you're in a pretty good position to win the game. Unfortunately, we didn't get the job done that way. We have to be better next time. We have to capitalize on our chances and we've just got to keep it simple on the road."
Oilers: Edmonton's latest loss was a bad one, a 6-0 defeat against the St. Louis Blues at Rexall Place on Saturday. The Oilers recorded 23 shots on goal against Blues goalie Brian Elliott, but came up empty. Ilya Bryzgalov allowed six goals on 33 shots.
Edmonton trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes before giving up four goals in the third period.
"When we were in the last one, it was really bad. And this is not fun, either," Eakins said of his club's losing streaks this season. "I still feel like the previous spot we were in was a horrible spot where we just had zero confidence. We couldn't make a play, we would see zero flashes and I thought that was a real negative downtime and that was a point where I was trying to keep them very positive.
"Because we’re seeing full periods and two periods of how we want to play — [Saturday's] chances were 10-2 for us in the first period. And then to shoot ourselves in the foot like we did, that's for me saying the next day we come to the rink is not going to be a fun day. I don't want you all smiles and giggles coming in here.
"The one thing I shared with the group today before practice is, I always prided myself as a coach on coming in the next day, yesterday's gone. We've got to get ready for tomorrow. I just let them know, don't let plays die today in practice because I haven't let yesterday go yet."
Who's hot: Kane has three goals and two assists in the past four games for Winnipeg. Mark Scheifele has a six-game point streak. He has three goals and five assists over that span.