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The Edmonton Oilers have lost two straight games in regulation time. They’ve looked awful doing it. Tonight, they try to rebound as they pay a visit to the Vancouver Canucks. It is the third of four meetings between the rivals this season, who split the first two meetings.
The Oilers divisional cushion over the Arizona Coyotes is down to just one point, while Edmonton’s playoff cushion is just five points. The race for the playoffs is officially on, and the Oilers simply cannot afford to lose tonight on the Pacific coast.
Mikko Koskinen starts for the Oilers, while Thatcher Demko is expected to get the nod for the Canucks.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Show up tonight. The Oilers haven’t shown up since Adam Larsson’s major penalty against the Avalanche on Wednesday night. Ever since then, there has been no debate that they have been the second best team on the ice on a nightly basis. That has to change this evening. Whatever the hell they did last weekend, do it again tonight.
Vancouver: Stick to the plan. The Canucks dominated the Oilers last night and had their way with their divisional foes. Honestly, there isn’t much that coach Travis Green needs to adjust. His team controlled the play from the opening puck drop last night. Stay focused and being that same energy to this game.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Leon Draisaitl has been held pointless in the last two games. That isn’t a trend that is likely to continue. The German eventually is going to break out, and tonight is as good of a night as any. The Oilers absolutely need him going if they want to claim two points. No reason to doubt that he will be up to the challenge.
Vancouver: Quinn Hughes is one of my favorite rookies to watch. The slick skating defenseman moves the puck so well and is a real weapon on the powerplay. His speed, skill and smarts make him to perfect modern defenseman. I look forward to watching him again tonight.
Joakim Nygard, scratched last night, is likely to draw back in. Matt Benning will return and replace Kris Russell, who is in Edmonton for the birth of his child. If you are mad about that, you’re an ass. Congrats to Kris and family. Koskinen replaces Smith, who had yet another lackluster start last night.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
James Neal – Connor McDavid – Alex Chiasson
Jujhar Khaira – Sam Gagner – Zack Kassian
Markus Granlund – Leon Draisaitl – Patrick Russell
Joakim Nygard – Gaetan Haas – Josh Archibald
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Matt Benning
No morning skate for the Canucks, so the lineup is expected to remain the same as last night. Updates will follow if there are any changes.
Vancouver Canucks Lines:
J.T. Miller – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Loui Eriksson
Josh Leivo – Adam Gaudette – Jake Virtanen
Tim Schaller – Tyler Graovac – Zack MacEwen
Quinn Hughes – Tyler Myers
Jordie Benn – Chris Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg – Troy Stecher
The Canucks are just 4-5-1 in their last ten games, but still managed to easily wipe the floor with the Oilers last night. It only gets worse if you are Edmonton. The Canucks are a strong 5-2-3 at home this season.
Edmonton’s powerplay was a poor last night, going 0-for-3. They still sit second in the NHL, however, with a 30.8% success rate. The penalty kill is also still second at 86.8% so far on the season.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand) remains on IR for the Oilers. The Canucks are without Jay Beagle (lower-body), Brandon Sutter (groin), Michael Ferland (concussion) and Tyler Motte (upper-body). All are on the IR.