The Edmonton Oilers headed into the stretch run of October flying high at 6-1 but ever since a 2-1 win over Detroit at home on October 20 they’ve cooled off precipitously. They’ve won only once since them going 1-4-0 and the formerly high octane offense is sputtering with only 7 goals in their last 5 games. With the exception of a 6-2 loss at home to Florida on 10/27/19 the defense hasn’t been bad and this might be the perfect start for a turnaround against the middle of the pack Blue Jackets.
The best thing that can be said about the Columbus Blue Jackets this season is that they’ve been competitive. After losing a wealth of talent to free agency–most notably former Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky–the more reactionary among the fans and media suggested that the Jackets would drop like a stone into the Eastern Conference basement. They’ve been considerably better than that and are just off of the postseason pace in the highly competitive Metro Conference. They’re coming off a road loss at Philadelphia but prior to that had won 4 of 6 including back to back wins at Toronto and home against Carolina.
The task at hand for the Oilers is simple: put some pucks in the net. The defense is still ranked in the top ten in goals against per game allowing just 2.69 per good for #9 in the league. Mike Smith will get the start tonight and he’s been pretty solid in the early going with a 2.49 GAA and a 0.914 save percentage. His record has dropped to 3-3-1 but that’s more the fault of his team’s offense than poor play on his part. Blue Jackets will counter with Joonas Korpisalo who like the rest of the team has been ‘competitive at best’ going 5-3-1 with a 3.08 goals against average and a 0.896 save percentage.
The Oilers are still in first place in the Pacific Division and until further notice this current downturn should be considered part of the ebb and flow of a NHL season and not a return to the Edmonton of old. Columbus could be where they get things going again as they’ve had considerable luck against the Blue Jackets. Oilers enter on a 3-1 run in head to head play including 2 straight wins on the Jackets’ home ice. The Oilers won both meetings last year by a combined margin of 8-1 including a 4-0 shutout win in Columbus.