It was shortly after the Canucks won three in a row for the first time this season against the three California teams that team captain Henrik Sedin was asked whether the victories had any meaning. His response was that it didn't. In hindsight, he was absolutely correct not only as it pertained to a season that will see the Canucks fail to qualify for the playoffs but even on the smaller scale of just finishing the campaign with some momentum. That was made evident with the Canucks following up the win streak with back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Oilers and Flames - two teams that will also be sitting on the sidelines when the post-season gets underway.
Even though a win tonight would amount to little in the grand scheme of things, sending the fans who have supported the team through thick and thin during a difficult season home happy would be meaningful especially on #20in20 Fan Appreciation Night. Getting a little measure of revenge against the Oilers, who knocked off the Canucks 6-2 three nights ago, would be at the top of the Canucks' priority list as well. Whether the Canucks make any changes for tonight's contest won't be known until the morning skate at the earliest but expect to see Mike Zalewski in the line-up. The 23-year-old, who has 30 points in 55 games in the AHL this season, was re-called yesterday from Utica.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, 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
Have some pride. Back-to-back blowout losses on the road is one thing but the last thing any player wants is to be embarrassed for a third straight game, especially if that game is their last of the season in front of their own fans. Everybody in the locker room needs to take this game personally and make sure the effort is there in the finale.
A fitting finish for Bo. If there's one positive for the Canucks heading into a long summer, it's that they know when they return they will have a very confident third-year player in Bo Horvat who not only found his offensive touch in the second half of the season but has become a true team leader. If the Canucks are to end their season on a winning note, it seems only fitting that Bo will be the reason why.
Don't check out just yet. Thursday's convincing win followed by the Rexall Place farewell ceremony felt like an appropriate end to the season for the Oilers. The problem is it wasn't. Whether they like it or not, they still have to get through tonight's finale and they have to find a way to get their heads in the game for one more night.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
All-time win percentage for the Oilers in their season finales (19-11-5).
All-time win percentage for the Canucks in season finales (24-14-6). VAN has won two in a row, and 6 of their last 7 season finales.
All-time win percentage for the Canucks in home finales (24-15-5). VAN has also won two in a row, and 6 of their last 7 home finales.
Points for Connor McDavid in the season series (1-4-5), leading all players. Matt Bartkowski leads the Canucks with three (2-1-3).
Time the Canucks will conclude their regular season facing the Oilers (4-3-0).
Combined career points for Daniel and Henrik Sedin against the Oilers. Only two of those points have come this season.
- For one night on Wednesday, and appropriately so in the final NHL game to be hosted by the house that Gretzky built, the Oilers were inhabited by the spirit of those great teams from the 80's exploding for six goals against the Canucks – just one goal shy of matching their season-high.
- Leading the offensive charge on Wednesday with two goals was Patrick Maroon, the Oilers' deadline day acquisition who has found his scoring touch since the trade. Maroon has five goals and seven points over his last five outings and will definitely be a player Edmonton expects big things out of next fall. Look for him to once again be on a line with Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle tonight.
- The player who got the ball rolling on Wednesday was former first overall pick Nail Yakupov, who has quietly put up two goals and three points over his last five outings. Despite opening the scoring on Tuesday, he still finished with less than 10 minutes of ice-time on the night. There's a good chance tonight's game will be his last as an Oiler with a summer of change on the horizon in Edmonton combined with the fact he's reportedly requested a trade.
- Wednesday night was certainly a night where just about all the Oilers' top stars, including numerous former first round picks, shined. Conspicuous by his absence once again from the scoresheet, however, was former Canuck Zack Kassian. After netting two goals and four points in his first eight games following his return to the NHL, he has completely fallen off the map offensively managing just one goal and four points over his last 27 outings. As a restricted free agent after this season, the jury's out on whether he'll be back in Edmonton next season.
- Wednesday's game marked the first time that either team has managed to score more than three goals through four games in the season series. Unfortunately for the Canucks, however, they found themselves in very familiar territory managing just two on the scoreboard for themselves. So far in the season series, Cam Talbot has been excruciatingly difficult to crack. He's 2-0-1 with a 1.31 GAA and a .956 save percentage to go with a shutout. If he wins tonight, he'll establish a new personal career-high for victories in a single season. He currently sits at 21 wins.
- How the Oilers choose to utilize their defencemen tonight will be worth watching. Edmonton's back end is expected to undergo major changes come the off-season. Andrej Sekera, who was signed to a huge multi-year deal last summer, will be back. Rookie Darnell Nurse will be part of the picture also. Mark Fayne and Brandon Davidson are also under contract for next season. Nurse left Wednesday's game with an injury after just 3:06 played and the benefactor was Jordan Oesterle, who had a game-high and career-high 27:57 in ice-time. The 23-year-old Oesterle is a restricted free agent this summer and really found his offensive touch in Bakersfield (AHL) this season. He could be the heir apparent to Jordan Schultz, whom the Oilers parted ways with just prior to the trade deadline.