The Edmonton Oilers are in search of their second five-game winning streak of the season as they head west to take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight on Hockey Night in Canada. The Oilers, winners of their last four, are also searching for their fourth straight win against the Canucks.
This is the fifth of ten meetings this season between the Oilers and Canucks, and the third in Vancouver. The Oilers swept a two-game miniseries between the teams in late February, storming back for a 4-3 victory on February 23rd and then scoring a 3-0 win on the 25th. This is the second half of a back-to-back for Edmonton, who beat the Senators 6-2 last night.
Thatcher Demko gets the go for the Canucks, while Mikko Koskinen gets the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Sustained offensive zone pressure will be the key for the Oilers tonight. The Oilers powerplay has feasted on the Canucks this season, and Vancouver’s defense has been a weakness all year. The Oilers have the skill where if they can sustain pressure and as a result create chances and draw penalties, they’ll be in a very good spot.
Vancouver: Stay disciplined. The Canucks got away from their game when they went up 3-0 on February 23rd and let the Oilers back into the game. On the 25th? They took too many poor penalties that allowed the Oilers to gain a lead and bleed out the clock. They cannot go hunting tonight and have to stick with the game plan. Edmonton’s powerplay is too good to tempt.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Tyson Barrie had two more points on Friday, scoring a goal and adding an assist. He also deflected a puck into his own net. Barrie is a good player, but is a high-event player. The things he does well, against a skill-first Canucks team, are really valuable though. Barrie’s ability to transition the puck is key for the Oilers. On the second half of a back-to-back, they’ll need him to keep the puck going in the right direction.
Vancouver: Brock Boeser will need to play an even bigger role for the Canucks tonight, as star center Elias Pettersson remains out. Boeser has been good this season, scoring a team-leading 14 goals and 29 points thus far. With Pettersson, who has three points in four games against Edmonton, out of the lineup, Boeser will need to shoulder a bigger load.
The Oilers did not skate this morning, so lines won’t be made apparent until warmup. The expectation, however, is that the lineup will remain the same tonight. That means Kris Russell (lower body) will sit again and remains day-to-day. Also day-to-day is F Josh Archibald (upper body). Zack Kassian remains on IR, but is close to a return. He could potentially play this coming week. Kyle Turris remains on the COVID-19 protocol list.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Leon Draisaitl – Connor McDavid – Kailer Yamamoto
Tyler Ennis – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jesse Puljujarvi
Devin Shore – Jujhar Khaira – Patrick Russell
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
William Lagesson – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Ethan Bear
Pettersson is the big loss for the Canucks. He is currently dealing with an upper body injury and is on IR. Also out are Justin Bailey (upper body), Tyler Motte (lower body) and Michael Ferland (concussion). All are on IR.
Vancouver Canucks Lines:
Tanner Pearson – Bo Horvat – Jake Virtanen
Nils Hoglander – J.T. Miller – Brock Boeser
Marc Michaelis – Brandon Sutter – Adam Gaudette
Antoine Roussel – Jay Beagle – Jayce Hawryluk
Alexander Edler – Nate Schmidt
Quinn Hughes – Travis Hamonic
Jordie Benn – Tyler Myers
“The consistency in our game is at a new level right now,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said earlier on Saturday. “Everybody knows what everybody else is doing and everybody has trust in each other. If it hasn’t been our best game, which happens to every team in the League, you got to find a way to grab it as quick as you can and we’ve done a good job of that this year.”
The Oilers are concluding their fifth set of back-to-back games this season. So far, in the first half of back-to-back sets, the Oilers are 4-1-0. Their lone set back? A 5-3 loss to these Canucks on opening night. In the second half of back-to-backs? The Oilers are 4-0-0 this season. Over the course of this season and last, aka the Dave Tippett era, the Oilers are 11-1-0 in the second half of back-to-backs.
Leon Draisaitl is primed for a big night. The reigning Hart Trophy winner has nine points (5 g, 4 a) in his last four games since being reunited with Connor McDavid. In addition, he’s feasted on the Canucks this season. In just four games against Vancouver, Draisaitl has nine points (0 g, 9 a). McDavid, meanwhile, has seven points (5 g, 2 a) in the season series.