OILERS (24-44-13) at CANUCKS (47-29-5)
VANCOUVER -- For Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller it’s hard to imagine a better team to play against in his return from a knee injury than the Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET; CBC).
Miller’s start against Edmonton on Saturday will be his first in almost seven weeks, and he has never lost to the Oilers in his career, going 11-0-0 with a .930 save percentage
It might be an important game for the Canucks.
If the Calgary Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon, Vancouver needs at least one point against the Oilers to maintain home-ice advantage in the Western Conference First Round against Calgary. Coach Willie Desjardins said he wants two goalies ready for the playoffs so it’s just as important for Miller to get into a game.
"It would be tough on Ryan if he ended up playing in the playoffs without having played in so long," Desjardins said after a 5-0 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Vancouver did not skate Friday or Saturday.
Miller hasn’t played since spraining his MCL in a Feb. 22 collision with teammate Jannik Hansen. He resumed practicing with the team on April 3, and dressed as the backup to Eddie Lack on Thursday.
Desjardins hasn’t named his starting goalie for the playoffs, and Lack is 12-6-2 with a .927 save percentage since Miller was hurt. Miller is 28-15-1 with a .913 save percentage this season, including four wins against the Oilers in the first six weeks.
Edmonton is locked into 28th in the NHL, but in addition to finishing another tough season on a high note, the Oilers said they would like to finally beat Miller.
"Even when he was in Buffalo I don’t know if he has ever lost against the Oilers," forward Jordan Eberle said. "You just have to find a way to get traffic in front of him and find a way to get greasy goals."
Here are the projected lineups:
Benoit Pouliot - Taylor Hall - Jordan Eberle
Teddy Purcell - Derek Roy - Nail Yakupov
Matt Fraser - Anton Lander - Tyler Pitlick
Luke Gazdic - Matt Hendricks - Rob Klinkhammer
Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz
Martin Marincin - David Musil
Keith Aulie - Brandon Davidson
Injured: Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Andrew Ference (upper body), Mark Fayne (shoulder), Boyd Gordon (back), Nikita Nikitin (foot), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (foot)
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Radim Vrbata
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Sven Baertschi - Linden Vey - Derek Dorsett
Alexander Edler – Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa - Kevin Bieksa
Scratched: Brandon McMillan, Ryan Stanton
Injured: Shawn Matthias (upper body), Brad Richardson (ankle), Zack Kassian (back)
Status report: Hendricks returns after missing one game with a lower-body injury so forward Curtis Hamilton, who was called up from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis, has to be sent back down. … Fasth will back up Scrivens for the first time since injuring his knee in a shootout on Feb. 16. There was some thought the Oilers would get Fasth into a game before the season ended. “Vik’s been off for quite some time,” said coach Todd Nelson. “It may be a different situation if we had four of five games left but he’s fresh off the IR.” … If the Flames lose to Winnipeg and the Canucks don’t need any points against Edmonton, don't be surprised if McMillan and Stanton get into the game so other players can rest.
Who's hot: Daniel and Henrik Sedin have combined for four goals and seven assists in the past two games.