NHL Preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

By brianpalmer
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets has all the makings of an ugly battle. The Oilers (8-9-4) sit in 14th place in the Western Conference with 20 points, while the Blue Jackets (6-12-4) sit in dead-last in the National Hockey League with 16.

Edmonton’s defense is a wreck, Columbus’s offense is anemic, particularly their power play units, and Edmonton continues to struggle to put shots on net, be they quality shots or otherwise. They went 23:35 without a shot in their last game versus the Minnesota Wild, and though they defeated the Blue Jackets the last time these two teams met, the Blue Jackets outshot the Oilers 40-14.

To put this point in even greater perspective, the Blue Jackets rank near the bottom of the league averaging 26 shots per game.

The Oilers rank sixth in power play and penalty kill percentages (21.5 percent and 85.9 percent, respectively), while the Blue Jackets are 27th in the league on the power play (13.6 percent) and eighth in penalty kill percentage (84.8 percent), so special teams figure to be an important factor tonight.

Also of note is the injury situation for both teams. The Oilers could be without Taylor Hall, who suffered a leg injury last week and missed Sunday’s game versus the Wild. He has nine points in his last six games versus the Blue Jackets, so the Oilers would love to have him ready to play.

They also placed defenseman Mark Fistric on the IR yesterday, and Jordan Eberle could miss tonight’s game with a hand injury he suffered against Minnesota, so Edmonton’s road to defeating Columbus could be difficult. Brandon Dubinsky and John Moore are out for the Blue Jackets tonight, and Jack Johnson, Nikita Nikitin and Derick Brassard will all be game-time decisions, so there are a lot of variables heading into tonight’s matchup.

Both teams face an uphill battle to get back in the playoff picture as the Oilers and Blue Jackets are four and eight points out of eighth respectively, but a win tonight for either team could give them the momentum they need to get headed in that direction. Will Edmonton be able to steal another one on the road from Columbus? Or will the Blue Jackets be able to take it to the Oilers this time? Stay tuned.

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