NHL Game Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets | 03/26/2024

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Worst. Weekend. Ever. We can’t celebrate Zach Hyman’s 50th goal without being reminded how bad this back-to-back was for the Edmonton Oilers. Try to rally back from 5 goals down in the third period on Saturday because they showed up too little too late. Then, take a multi-goal lead on Sunday, then the other team does come back, and the game is blown in the last 2 minutes of regulation. A weekend spent in Ontario ended on a sour note, standings-wise.

This doesn’t mean I’m not happy for Hyman, as he is now the 8th player in franchise history to score 50 goals in a season. He is also the first free agent signee to have a 50 goal season since Jacques Richard scored 52 goals for the Quebec Nordiques in the 1980/1981 season. The celebration on the ice and bench in Ottawa after he scored number 50 was heartwarming. But that also may’ve been part of the problem. I think the Oilers were trying too hard to focus on the milestone that it made them not think about the rest of the games. I didn’t like them starting in Toronto with a 29/97/18 line, putting almost all of their eggs in one basket. They were very poor defensively, and neither of their goalies could stop anything. We sometimes need to be reminded just how long an 82 game regular season is. Some games will be good, and some games won’t be. Don’t let Calvin Pickard’s one terrible game as an Oilers goalie change your perspective on him, he’s still an unsung hero this season. This team is still fine, but with Hyman’s 50th goal now out of the way, Edmonton can humble themselves and remember the fundamentals of what makes them look like a contender.

Edmonton needs to get more serious tonight against another Canadian team and Cup contender. They’ll be looking to at least end what’s so far been a bad road trip on a high note. The keys to the game are…

Any Shot Can Be Good Shot: Just as Joonas Korpisalo made it difficult for the Oilers on Sunday, Connor Hellebuyck nearly stole a win for Winnipeg in the last meeting between these teams. Then he allowed a goal that he would’ve liked to have back, it changed the tide in Edmonton’s favour and they wound up winning the game in regulation. A team that has been too passive with the puck this past month needs to make life difficult in this goalie tilt.

D-Zone Slump: They’re still ranked 1st in GA/G this season, but the Jets have been outscored 13-4 in their last 3 games. The Oilers have scored 4 powerplay goals in their last two games and Winnipeg’s penalty kill is ranked 25th in the league with a 76.5% proficiency. You know what to do.

Newcomer Magic: Sean Monahan has 15 points, 8 of them goals, in 23 games for the Jets since being traded from Montreal. Tyler Toffoli has 6 points, 4 of them goals, in 8 games since leaving New Jersey at the Trade Deadline. I’m not saying Adam Henrique or Sam Carrick should score at the same rate as them, maybe Henrique a little bit. But for their defensive works, they have to be extra sharp against those two, as well as against the offensive talent the Winnipeg already had before those acquisitions.

Stephen Vani

Oilers fan in Toronto. Staying up past my bedtime for Western games since the mid 2000s.

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