Fri, 05 Mar 2021

Edmonton in search of offensive spark at Winnipeg

Field Level Media
24 Jan 2021, 17:55 GMT+10

Evan Bouchard might see some action Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Edmonton Oilers defenseman, a 2018 first-round pick, took a spot on the taxi squad before the 2021 NHL season opened, and that's where he's been waiting for his opportunity to get into the lineup.

After splitting a doubleheader in Toronto against the Maple Leafs, the Oilers could use some offensive spark from the blue line. Head coach Dave Tippett is considering shifting the lineup a bit to make it happen.

He may play seven defensemen just to get Bouchard some ice time.

"He is still an option," Tippett said, after an optional skate Saturday in Toronto. "He's working hard in practice. I give him credit there. We've got nine defensemen with Bouch. He's a good power-play guy. Our power play has struggled a little bit, so we've had conversations about that.

"He's a good, young player that when he gets his opportunity, I think he's going to jump in and take off. We just have to find him that opportunity."

The Oilers lost 4-2 to the Leafs on Friday, after winning 3-1 two days prior. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were the only players to hit the scoreboard for Edmonton in the loss.

"We could have got it to overtime at least," said defenseman Kris Russell before the team hopped on a flight to Winnipeg. "We got to make sure we take care of our defensive end first and then go from there."

The Oilers are coming into a rink shaken by a big trade Saturday between their host Jets and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jets winger Patrik Laine was on his way to Columbus, Ohio, after the Jets traded him and center Jack Roslovic to the Blue Jackets for disgruntled Pierre-Luc Dubois and a third-round pick in the 2022 draft.

"We're extremely excited. Pierre-Luc Dubois coming in here, the depth and the size we have down the middle here right now -- that's going to be the strength of our organization," said Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff of Dubois, a third overall draft pick by the Blue Jackets in 2016.

Dubois has 66 goals and 159 points in three seasons. In five games this year, he has one goal.

"He's a big strong player and, at least in years past, he's been a dominant center," said Tippett, noting his rival's new player likely won't be in the lineup for the Jets on Sunday.

In fact, the Government of Canada demands a seven-day quarantine for players entering the country from the United States. Jets officials may get this reduced by adhering to alternate conditions for Dubois, such as flying him in on a private jet.

While waiting for Dubois to arrive, the Jets dispatched the Ottawa Senators 6-3 for the third consecutive victory over Ottawa.

They were down 3-2 heading into the third period but stormed back for the victory.

"These are fun games," said Nikolaj Ehlers, who had a goal and an assist. "Every game counts as usual. We're going to keep fighting no matter how many times we're down in a game."

The Saturday game had a late start, as does the Sunday game. It won't factor into the Jets' play against the Oilers, just like the distraction of the trade wasn't against the Senators.

"(The late start) is not that much different," Ehlers said. "I mean, you get home at 12:30 and you gotta fall asleep so that's a challenge but there's no excuses. We're going to fight and work for those two points."

--Field Level Media

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