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2021 NORTH DIVISION PLAYOFF GAME PREVIEW: Game 1 Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets

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Playoffs. Oilers, Jets. The good stuff. It all starts tonight.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Edmonton Oilers (0-0-0)

Winnipeg Jets (0-0-0)

19 May 2021

7 PM MST

Rogers Place

TV: CBC, Sportsnet

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponent: Arctic Ice Hockey

LET’S GET IT STARTED

The Oilers have finished their 56 game sprint to the playoffs. They’re in the playoffs this year, there’s no “play-in” series, there’s no drafting 3rd overall in 2021. The Edmonton Oilers have earned this ride after putting up 35 wins in 56 games, they will be rewarded with a best-of-seven series against the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers will certainly be eager to play in their first actual playoff game in over five years, they’ll face a Winnipeg club who may be missing a couple of key pieces from their lineup.

The Oilers can’t take the Jets lightly, and need to take them to task early and often. Can the Oilers make this game 1 a memorable one for all the right reasons?

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARE SAYING

“All those other things don’t really mean anything unless you win,...That’s always what I’ve wanted to do and we have an opportunity here with this group to play a good Jets team then go from there”

Source

That’s Connor McDavid talking about how all the accolades in the world don’t mean a thing until you win.

McDavid’s certainly got accolades. He finished the 56 game season scoring an incredible 105 points, it’s another MVP worthy season. While McDavid fills the nets with what looks like relative ease, it sounds like there’s something higher on the ladder that he’s thinking about.

THE JETS ARE SAYING

That’s Jets head coach Paul Maurice on how he believes his Jets club is better than the regular season Jets club that surrendered 7 of 9 games to the Oilers.

The Oilers can’t take the Jets lightly. Connor Hellebuyck is an elite goalie right now and while the Oilers have had much success versus Winnipeg this year, a hot goalie spells trouble.

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • Connor McDavid could probably have several leather-bound chapter books written about him at this point. Finishing a 56 game season with 105 points is an incredible feat, and probably won’t be appreciated by a lot of people until down the road. The playoffs are here, and the base is happy to hopefully see these totals carry over. It’d be just great if he blew the lid off for 35 points in 16 playoff wins. Just sayin’.
  • The Jets are going to have a couple of critical pieces hanging in the balance until tonight’s game. Both Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nikolaj Ehlers are projected to be game-time decisions due to injury.
  • The top six looks about right. DRY line in full effect, while Dominik Kahun is being tapped to play top line LW with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi on the other side. Going to need beaucoup from everyone involved.
  • Slater Koekkoek in over Caleb Jones at 3LD is a pretty damming tell from Dave Tippett. Koekkoek played in Edmonton’s season finale after missing nearly three months after breaking his collarbone in February game versus the Flames.
  • I’ve been a vocal critic of Zack Kassian’s play this season. He was off the first line quickly to start the season in favour of Jesse Puljujarvi, his game was neutered after he suffered an upper body injury after a fight to Erik Gudbranson. He’s missed considerable time due to injury on two occasions, but he’s back in the lineup tonight. If you’re going to make your hay on the scoresheet, tonight’s a good night to make some hay on a line with James Neal and Ryan McLeod.
  • NET GAINS: Mike Smith starts tonight for the Oilers. He’s had a phenomenal season where he’s won 21 games and put up a .923 SV%. He’s earned it. I hated the signing, I will tell you I hated the signing, but I will also tell you that so far, he’s proven me wrong after a couple of questionable years. He’s been very good this year for the Oilers in 2021, and I hope that gas tank remains full. The Jets will counter with Connor Hellebuyck, who has kept it together as the Jets have limped towards the playoffs. Check out former pro goalie Rob Gherson’s analysis about Mike Smith and Connor Hellebuyck on the main page if you haven’t already.
  • JOIN US FOR THE GAMETHREAD: We’ve got wall-to-wall coverage beginning an hour before gametime, all through the game and after the final buzzer. Join us as the Oilers look to march to 16 wins, one game at a time. ‘

Let’s get at ‘er.