Preview: Edmonton Oilers pay a visit to the now surging Winnipeg Jets

Derek Leung

Can Maurice and the high scoring Jets continue their run against another struggling team?

The joy is back in joyville as the Winnipeg Jets seem to have found their way out of the wilderness and reclaimed their speedy attack style game. Are the players still in audition mode or are we seeing a re-invented hockey club desperately trying to save the season? Tonight's action may reveal some clues, but the Edmonton Oilers with arguably the worst record in hockey are still low hanging fruit that the Jets should be able to pick.

The Oilers are on a three game losing skid and the team that Lowe built are failing to perform as one might expect after picking first overall three years in a row from 2010 to 2012. With that said the young talent seems to randomly activate to displace teams looking for the easy win as the Jets found out on December 23rd , giving up a whopping six goals in a 6-2 loss. Paul Maurice would do well to remind his team of that score just in case some of his players are starting to look ahead to the big test in Anaheim.

It should also be noted that the Oilers recently acquired Ben Scrivens who boasts an impressive .928 save percentage with twenty games played for Los Angeles. A solid presence in net is something that the kids in Edmonton have been sorely lacking, and Scrivens may be just the answer they've been looking for. The Jets who have scored their way out of defensive problems recently might be in tough if they run into a goalie trying to make a statement in Edmonton.

Keys To The Game

Winnipeg:

  • Stay classy - No fights in the stands no matter how bad we're beating them
  • Dustin Byfuglien - He'll have to play the power forward role and create havoc in front of either Scrivens or Ilya Bryzgalov to prevent any type of potential goalie stand that may be in the cards as both fight for the starters position with the Oilers.
  • Young guns - Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba will need to just keep on doing what they've been doing at both ends of the ice, which is look like they've been playing in this league for years.
  • Goaltending - This has become a mandatory mention in keys to the game. Our goal tending just simply needs to get better. Even with an impressive looking game against the flames Ondrej Pavelec still let in two goals on twenty two shots. That's not going to be good enough on nights when the Jets find themselves short of offence.
  • Powerplay - The Jets are fast and draw a lot of penalties with that speed. The power play has been getting better but if the Jets can get it clicking, a lot of those one goal games will tip in our favor.
  • Stay dry - The Jets fell back on old habits and had a leaky third period against the Flames. Lock that down and stay the course for a full sixty.

Edmonton:

  • Golatending - Stifle the offense of the Winnipeg Jets and you've got them where you want them. Between Bryzgalov and Scrivens, Edmonton should be able to give the Jets shooters some trouble.
  • Puck Possession - Get the puck and hem the Jets into their own end. The Jets have trouble breaking the cycle of opposing clubs. get it deep and get the Jets defenders running around.
  • Neutral Zone - Step up the Neutral zone play, the Jets have modified their zone entry and are carrying it across the line more with speed. Clog up that neutral zone and try to neutralize the Jets before they gain the zone.
  • Discipline - Don't get stupid, the Jets will come at you with speed, don't take bad penalties that the Jets improving power play can take advantage of.
  • Activate Your Shooters - You have loads of young offensive talent, the Jets have mediocre to weak goal tending. Do the math. Get shots on net.
The biggest threat the Jets will face against the Oilers is complacency. If the Jets take the night off, start looking too far ahead or take the Oilers for granted in any way they'll fly out of oil town without a desperately needed two points. Worse their next meeting will be against Teemu Selanne and the juggernaut Aneheim Ducks, for which they'll need all the momentum they can muster. The plain truth is that even the worst teams in the NHL are still playing in the best league in the world, and there's no room for anything less than an A game from now until the end off the season.

Player To Boo Mercilessly:

Bryzgalov. Are the parks in Edmonton any better than the ones in Winnipeg?

Predicted Score:

Winnipeg Jets 6 , Edmonton Oilers 4


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