After a big Saturday evening victory last night with the Minnesota Wild, we return on Sunday looking to increase our record to a stellar 12-4 on the season. Tonight’s match-up features two of the youngest squads in the NHL, as the Oilers travel to Columbus to take on a reeling Blue Jackets squad.
Edmonton Oilers (-110) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (-110)
Nothing much was expected from Columbus in 2013, and through the first quarter of the season, it seems that is going to be the case. This is a weak team, with inferior defense and goaltending to the Oilers. Edmonton has gone in a bit of a funk themselves right now, struggling with the injury bug and enter this game losers of their last five games. That said, they’ve competed and come close in every contest and remain worthy of playoff contention.
Unlike the Jackets, big things were expected from the Oilers in 2013. Many of their young studs played and stayed active during the lockout, and talk circulated about the potential for the playoffs this year. While it still may be a tad early for that conversation, Edmonton is a better and more skilled team this season, and the gap between them and Columbus is significant. Expect the Oilers to enter this game seeing it as a legitimate opportunity to end their slide, and go out and do so in convincing fashion.
This is a back-to-back scenario for Edmonton, but star netminder Devan Dubnyk is fresh. Dubnyk has been quite the revelation thus far for the Oilers, posting a 2.60 GAA and a .923 SV%. Back-up goalie Nikolai Khabibulin started yesterday in Detroit, preparing Dubnyk for another big outing against the Jackets.
Columbus is comfortably situated in their last place position, a ranking where they will likely stay all season. The Jackets are perfectly content to acquire another high draft pick and build for the future. They’ve been plagued by inconsistent play within games, failing to be able to put together a complete 60-minute effort. Look for an opportunistic Oilers squad to take advantage of that, and put the Jackets away early.
For Edmonton, Eric Belanger should return from injury stepping back into his familiar 4th-line centre position. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returned from injury on Saturday and seems primed to start compiling some points. This is a big contest for an Edmonton team with dreams of the top-8 in the West. Though it’s early, they recognize the significance of this game, and should emerge as victors. At a pick’em price, the Oilers are good value on Sunday.
PICK = Edmonton (-110)