The Canucks begin their final road trip of the season tonight when they battle the Edmonton Oilers in the final NHL game ever at Rexall Place.
There are those who would suggest the Canucks' active three-game win streak - their longest of the season - couldn't have come at a worst time with the playoffs already out of the equation. Although there is some merit to the idea of trying to get the best possible odds for a higher pick at the upcoming NHL Draft, one only has to look at tonight's opponent to see why that plan is hardly foolproof. The Oilers will miss the playoffs for a tenth consecutive season despite having the benefit of selecting first overall in four of the last six NHL Drafts. Thankfully the Oilers faithful will have something to celebrate tonight – although hopefully not a victory - thanks to the pomp and circumstance that accompanies the end of an era in a building that has seen many great moments for the home team in its 42-year history albeit very few over the last decade.
Based on yesterday's practice, don't expect much in the way of line-up changes for Vancouver as the Canucks continue to be without forwards Sven Baertschi, Linden Vey, and Chris Higgins. Although the Oilers can no longer catch the Canucks in the overall standings, they could still clinch the season series with in a win tonight.
Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
Keys to the Game
Make history. There is certainly something special about being forever etched in history as the last NHL team ever to record a win at Rexall Place. The Canucks would love to have that distinction and spoil the evening for one of their top rivals.
Fast start is critical. The Oilers come into tonight's game having surrendered the first goal in six straight games. The last time they opened the scoring in a game? It was against the Canucks. In fact, they've opened the scoring in all three games in the season series. The Canucks need to find a way turn that around tonight.
Leave it on the ice. Coming off an embarrassing effort Saturday against Calgary, and with this being their last game in front of their fans this season, the Oilers had better treat this game like it's Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. With many legends in the house for the Rexall Place closing festivities, the last thing they want is to go out with a whimper.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Save percentage for Jacob Markstrom against the Oilers this season (55 saves on 58 shots, 1-1-0, 1.48 GAA).
Straight regulation home losses for the Oilers entering play tonight (out-scored 10-3).
Straight games the Oilers have earned at least a point against the Canucks (2-0-2).
Players tied for the season series lead with two points (Hansen, Bartkowski, 4 Oilers).
Time (and last) the Oilers will wear their orange jerseys this season. They are 4-2-0 in them.
Time (and last) the Canucks will play at Rexall Place. Their all-time record there is 42-60-12.
- It's a good thing that Oilers fans have a brand new building to look forward in the fall because their hockey team sure is not giving them many reasons to look forward a new season to based on the way the end of this season is unfolding. The Oilers bring a three-game losing streak into tonight's contest – just one win in their last five games – and are on the verge of finishing in last place in the league for the first time since 2010.11.
- Saturday's 5-0 loss to provincial rival, the Flames, earned the Oilers a well-deserved tongue-lashing from head coach Todd McLellan who blasted his team's effort but, in fairness to the Oilers, they have been very competitive in their games prior to that lopsided loss. In their nine outings prior to Saturday, they had a record of 3-5-0 with only two of those five losses being by more than one goal. Those two multi-goal losses – 4-2 to Arizona and 6-4 to Los Angeles - featured opponent empty-net goals in the final minute.
- The Oilers actually had a pretty decent stretch from February 26 to March 18 (culminating with a 2-0 win over the Canucks in the last head-to-head meeting) where they went 7-4-1. During that stretch, the Oilers didn't score a whole lot of goals combining for just 27 goals (10 of which came in two of the games) but they also held their opponents to just 26 combined goals. Cam Talbot got a lot of credit for that stretch and deservedly so. In fact, Talbot is 8-5-1 in his last 14 starts and has a chance to set a personal new career-high in wins if he starts and wins Edmonton's final two games including tonight.
- Averaging 2.96 goals against per game this season, the Oilers are among the worst teams when it comes to allowing goals. Facing the Canucks, however, they've been remarkably stingy. They've only allowed three goals in three games – two in regulation – and it hasn't mattered who's been in net as both Cam Talbot and now-former Oiler Anders Nilsson have a victory on record in the season series.
- Talbot is one name that gives the Oilers some hope for the future. Connor McDavid, obviously, is another. McDavid, the three-time rookie of the month this season, will finish at a point-per-game pace this season regardless of whether he records a point in the final two games. Even he hasn't been able to singlehandedly lift the Oilers out of their recent scoring funk, however. He's looking to avoid going point-less in three straight games for the first time in his NHL career.
- In another season where the Oilers are once again finishing far outside the playoff picture, change is certainly coming in the off-season and two players who could potentially be playing their final game as an Oiler in Edmonton tonight are Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Both former first overall picks, Nugent-Hopkins has endured an injury-plagued campaign and will finish with his lowest point total in a non-lockout year this season. Yakupov, meanwhile, is likely to finish with his lowest point total in a single season barring a strong finish to the campaign.