The Canucks look to get back on the winning track tonight when they host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Arena.
There are two ways the Canucks can look at Friday's 4-3 loss to the Blues. On the one hand, they can be proud of the fight they put up after nearly pulling off an improbable late comeback from down 4-1. On the other hand, they can't be too pleased with the fact they let the visitors have their way until there was just three-and-a-half minutes remaining forcing them to stage that furious rally. Vancouver, looking for a better result tonight in a key divisional match-up and looking for their first home win, will make some changes to their line-up when they take on the Oilers in the first of five head-to-head meetings this season.
Based on yesterday's practice, the Canucks will reunite the 'Kid line' of Baertschi-Horvat-Virtanen that had a stellar outing against the Oilers back in pre-season combining for three goals and 10 points on October 1. Jannik Hansen moves up to be the right winger on the Sedin line, while Brandon Sutter reverts back to centre to skate with Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata. Rookie Jared McCann, who got the Canucks' comeback started on Friday, sat out practice and is officially doubtful for tonight's contest. Ryan Miller was held out of certain parts of yesterday's practice but is expected to start tonight. Look for the Oilers, who are coming off a 5-2 win last night over the Flames, to potentially start Anders Nilsson tonight after Cam Talbot went the distance yesterday.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
While most teams around the NHL are still anxiously anticipating their first run-in with Connor McDavid, it might seem old hat for the Canucks by now. Although this is officially the first time McDavid will face the Canucks in his young NHL career, this is will be the third time Vancouver will have encountered the supposed next great superstar of the league following two meetings in the pre-season (fourth if you count the Young Stars Tournament in Pencticton). What the Canucks won't be accustomed to seeing, however, is the 18-year-old lining up with someone other than Taylor Hall. In their two pre-season clashes with the Canucks, the Oilers had McDavid paired with the fellow former No. 1 overall pick and they also began the regular season that way as well. Evidently, however, Coach Todd McLellan didn't quite like what he saw from the tandem and has since moved McDavid down to a second line where he's centering Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov. It's taken McDavid a little while to get comfortable in his new surroundings but he did have a breakout game last night scoring twice and adding an assist in the win over in Calgary.
Up until last night, Edmonton's greatest concern wasn't their lack of offensive production but their inability to keep pucks out of their own net. The Oilers have allowed 15 goals in five games played so far and all-but-two have been at even-strength. Their two highest-paid blue-liners, Andrej Sekera and Mark Fayne, were a combined minus-10 heading into yesterday's tilt in Calgary although they've cut that number in half now thanks to a successful outing against the Flames. Their third highest-paid defenceman, former captain Andrew Ference, has appeared in just one of the team's five games so far this season.
Keys to the Game
The Kid line delivers. Ever since that 10-point night in the penultimate pre-season outing, Canucks fans have been clamouring to see Baertschi-Horvat-Virtanen back together. They get their wish tonight, but the so-called Kid line still has to prove they deserve to be together for the long haul.
The PP needs to click. Going 1-for-18 on the man-advantage is definitely a sore spot in what has otherwise been a fine start to the new season. The power play was a difference-maker for all the wrong reasons in Friday's loss to the Blues. It has to be a difference-maker for the right reasons tonight.
Ride the McWave. You could hear some grumbling coming out of Oilers Nation when they began the season with four straight losses while McDavid was held to just a single point. The sun is certainly shining again for those fans after McDavid's three-point outing last night and now they're counting on him to begin his first NHL career point streak.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Win for the Oilers in their last 10 visits to Rogers Arena (1-5-4).
Straight wins for the Canucks over the Oilers entering play tonight (all from last season).
Road wins for the Oilers last season, second fewest in the NHL (Toronto – 8).
Career games played by Richard Bachman as an Oiler over the previous two seasons.
Career games played in by Ryan Miller against the Oilers and zero career losses (12-0-0).
Combined points for Daniel and Henrik Sedin against the Oilers last season (3-15-18).