If you've noticed the mood surrounding the Canucks all week has been particularly positive, you're not alone. A perfect start to the season, even if it's just two wins that have come against teams that aren't exactly in the elite category, will do that. With that said, last Saturday's 5-4 shootout win over the Oilers didn't come without hiccups. Vancouver, to their credit, managed to overcome three two-goal deficits in that contest but will certainly want to tighten up defensively tonight against the same Edmonton team that has proven they have the ability to score goals even though they don't seem to have the ability to stop many of them.
Since starting their three-game road trip with that aforementioned 5-4 shootout loss to the Canucks last Saturday, things have gone from bad to worse for the Oilers. They were blown out 6-1 by the Blackhawks on Tuesday and then pounded 7-4 by the Coyotes the next night. To add insult to injury, the Oilers also loss a couple of key contributors to their lineup during their road trip, namely top-line centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and backup netminder Viktor Fasth. Nugent-Hopkins, who was injured in last Saturday's game against Vancouver on a hit by Dan Hamhuis, could return to the lineup tonight. Ben Scrivens, who gave up six goals in Edmonton's loss to Arizona on Wednesday, is the likely starter for the Oilers with Fasth sidelined. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins was unwilling to name his starter for tonight's game after yesterday's practice although he did hint that both of his netminders would likely see action this weekend. The Canucks host the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow night at Rogers Arena.
Puck drop at 6:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific and Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Fix the break outs. While they did get better in the second half of their game against the Oilers last Saturday, for the first little while it seemed the Canucks couldn't get out of their own end. The Oilers are going to put the pressure on with a strong forecheck and try to take away the passing lanes. The Canucks need to find a way to get around that.
Push the young guys around. The Oilers may have young, quick and skilled players but physical play is clearly not one of their strengths. One of the key turning points last Saturday came after Hamhuis leveled Nugent-Hopkins. Vancouver will want to start to hit parade as early as possible this time around.
Scrivens is solid. It's probably unfair to blame all the Oilers' woes on goaltending but it certainly has been one of the reasons for their poor start. Scrivens, who comes into this game with a dreadful 5.22 GAA and .800 save percentage, doesn't need to be Edmonton's saviour in this game but he can't be the reason why they lose.
By the Numbers
Career games played by Eddie Lack against the Oilers.
Career win percentage for Ryan Miller against the Oilers (8-0-0).
Goals per game allowed by the Oilers so far this season. Last season, they allowed an NHL-worst 3.26.
Years since the Canucks last opened a season with three straight wins (1999.00).
Years since the Oilers last started a season winless in four games (1995.96).
Percentage of Canuck shots last Saturday that was generated by the top line (14 of 43).