The Columbus Blue Jackets embark on their annual western Canada trip Tuesday as they get their first look at Edmonton’s new Rogers Place. This is the first of two meetings this season between the Blue Jackets and Oilers. The Blue Jackets come in as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, winners of six straight games. Despite that, the Blue Jackets are still fourth in the Metro Division, but with fewer games played than those above them. On the other side, the Oilers start the day second in the Pacific Division tied in points with the Ducks, but have played two more games.
Last time out, the Blue Jackets scored four times in the third period to defeat the New York Islanders 6-2. Cam Atkinson, Jack Johnson, and Seth Jones paced the offense with two points each. Lukas Sedlak scored his second goal in as many games, while Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied his first point of the season. The Blue Jackets were without their captain Nick Foligno the last two games due to a stomach bug. Foligno practiced Monday and did travel with the team to Edmonton. He could be available tonight. Bjorkstrand also traveled to Edmonton, and is expected to be the extra forward on the three-game road trip.
The Oilers are coming off a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Mark Letestu scored twice in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit. Oscar Klefbom also scored for the Oilers, who got 29 saves from their goaltender Cam Talbot. The Oilers have had to deal with several injuries this season, most recently announcing that Darnell Nurse would miss 12 weeks after having successful surgery to repair ligaments in his ankle. The Oilers could get good news tonight with the apparent return of Brandon Davidson to the lineup. He’s been out with an upper-body injury.
Columbus Blue Jackets at Edmonton Oilers
Rogers Place – 9:00 p.m. EST
TV Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go and Sportsnet West
Radio Broadcast Channels: 97.1 The Fan and 630 CHED
Columbus Blue Jackets: 17-5-4, 38 points.
Road Record: 7-2-3
Hot Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Gagner, Cam Atkinson, Jack Johnson
Key Injuries: David Clarkson (on LTIR), Nick Foligno (illness, could play Tuesday)
Brandon Saad-Alexander Wennberg-Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner-Brandon Dubinsky-Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson
Matt Calvert-Lukas Sedlak-Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski-Seth Jones
Jack Johnson-David Savard
Ryan Murray-Markus Nutivaara
Sergei Bobrovsky (Expected Starter)
Edmonton Oilers: 15-11-5, 35 points.
Home Record: 7-6-1
Hot Players: Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot, Mark Letestu
Key Injuries: Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (lower-body), Eric Gryba (undisclosed), Brandon Davidson (upper-body, could play Tuesday), Iiro Pakarinen (lower-body)
Projected Lines (How they lined up last game):
Milan Lucic-Connor McDavid-Drake Caggiula
Benoit Pouliot-Leon Draisaitl-Tyler Pitlick
Patrick Maroon-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Jordan Eberle
Anton Slepyshev-Mark Letestu-Zack Kassian
Andrej Sekera-Kris Russell
Adam Larsson-Oscar Klefbom
Dillon Simpson-Matthew Benning (Brandon Davidson could play)
Cam Talbot (expected starter)
1)The Blue Jackets come into Tuesday riding both a six-game winning streak and eight-game point streak (7-0-1). This has helped them to 17-5-4 overall, which is a franchise record for both wins and points in the team’s first 26 games. A key reason for this is that they’re the only team to post a top-three ranking in both goals for and goals against. They score 3.31 and allow 2.12 per game.
2)The Blue Jackets have owned the third period all season. In their last 13 games, the Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents a staggering 20-4 in the third period, posting a record of 10-1-2 in those games. They scored four goals in the third period Saturday against the New York Islanders en route to their 6-2 victory.
3)The Blue Jackets will get their first look this season at 2015 number-one overall pick Connor McDavid. In 31 games, McDavid has a line of 12-27-39, which leads the NHL. At the time of this writing, McDavid has a seven-point lead on both Vladimir Tarasenko and Jakub Voracek. McDavid has 12 multi-point games on the season.
4)The Oilers are no stranger to playing in tight games. Each of their last six games have been decided by one goal, with the Oilers posting a record of 2-1-3 in those games, losing twice in overtime and once in a shootout. Goalie Cam Talbot enters Tuesday’s game among the leaders in wins in the NHL with 14. He is 14-9-4 on the season, with a 2.55 GAA and .916 save percentage.
The key to tonight’s game is special teams. The Blue Jackets come in with the number-one power play in the league at 24.7%. The Oilers have the seventh best penalty kill at 84.8%. Conversely, the Oilers have the sixth best power play, while the Blue Jackets have the 17th best penalty kill. The Blue Jackets will need to stay disciplined as they have throughout the season to keep this game close. It will be interesting to see if the Blue Jackets try to get Brandon Dubinsky out as much as possible against McDavid. If so, that will be a fun matchup to watch.