The Oilers have lost five in a row and need to catch a break. The Jackets have lost four of their last five and need to be better at even strength. This is a matchup of the two coldest teams in the league - it will probably go to a shootout.
Oilers Report: The Oilers will make even more lineup changes tonight, Nail Yakupov on the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line and Eric Belanger back on the bottom line. Ralph Krueger has shuffled the defensive pairings and scratched Ryan Whitney. The Oilers are 29th in the league in faceoffs (how bad must Buffalo be?) and last in even strength shooting percentage. The Oilers power play seems downright docile as the zone-entries struggles continue.
Blue Jackets Report: The Jackets are the worst even strength team in the league and it's not close. James Wisniewski is back today to roll with Jack Johnson in the hopes of shoring up the even strength defense. The Blue Jackets' special teams haven't been bad, but the power play is struggling lately. Brandon Dubinsky has been outstanding in an early sheltered role.
Expected Line Combinations
Taylor Hall - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Nail Yakupov - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Ben Eager - Ryan Smyth - Lennart Petrell
Teemu Hartikainen - Eric Belanger - Magnus Paajarvi
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ladislav Smid - Corey Potter
Mark Fistric - Jeff Petry
Scratches: Ryan Whitney, Darcy Hordichuk, , Theo Peckham is on assignment
Nationwide Arena, 4:00 pm MST
TV - Sportsnet West
Radio - 630 CHED
By The Numbers
The Blue Jackets have a very special opportunity this summer - they could have the highest combination of three draft picks in modern NHL history. As it stands right now, the Jackets hold picks #2, #6 and #10
There's no team Ales Hemsky likes to play more than the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hemsky has 36 points in 29 games against the Jackets.
Even after the futility against the Red Wings, the Oilers have the 5th most efficient special teams in the league.
At least Kristian Huselius is no longer with the Jackets. Huselius scored better than a point-per-game against just one team in the NHL - the Oilers.
Steve Mason's career save percentage against the Oilers is .863
Todd Richards is employing one of the most bizarre coaching strategies I've ever seen. Jack Johnson, renown for his ability to kill a team through spaghettifcation, is getting the bulk of the defensive zone starts, while Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin are getting an offensive push. It's like Richards wants to draft Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones.