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GAME DAY: Canucks score early, cruise to 5-2 win over Oilers

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers


Vaulting out to a 9-0 shot advantage, the Canucks made early chances count, as Henrik and Daniel Sedin each recorded a goal and an assist through 60 minutes, helping to propel Vancouver to a 5-2 win over the Oilers Sunday night at Rexall Place. Vaulting out to a 9-0 shot advantage, the Canucks made early chances count, as Henrik and Daniel Sedin each recorded a goal and an assist through 60 minutes, helping to propel Vancouver to a 5-2 win over the Oilers Sunday night at Rexall Place.


Edmonton, AB - Changes were expected, but only one is on the way.

Following a disappointing 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, Associate Coach Ralph Krueger hinted that Darcy Hordichuk, Theo Peckham and Nikolai Khabibulin could all be re-inserted. The club's sideline brute will remain, but the 39-year-old veteran will get the nod in goal.

Cam Barker will continue to get an opportunity, while the Oilers' hot fourth line of Ben Eager, Anton Lander and Lennart Petrell will stay put. That's important, too, considering the team's desire to roll them all against the West's second-best squad.

"(Corey) Potter and (Theo) Peckham are both really close and they could in an emergency be put in, so that's going forward, but tonight we'll go with the same defencemen and the same forwards," Krueger said as he addressed the media this morning at Rexall Place.

"We might be making some changes (to the line combinations), but I'd rather reveal that after the warm-up.

"There's depth in the four lines right now that we're really comfortable with, so even if we move people around, we can play a four-line game against a team that plays really well with four lines," he added. "They had their fourth line over 10 minutes last night, so all of us know what that means in terms of how they use their bench."

It's all about matching up the right way. The Canucks are coming off a dominant 6-2 triumph over Toronto one night ago at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. In a back-to-back situation, they'll want to balance the players' ice time in an effort to keep heavy legs on the backburner.


It's been no secret that the Oilers have had success against the NHL's better teams this season but, as shown in Friday's loss to the barely-better Avalanche, stringing a similar effort together vs. the league's lesser-known has been a challenge.

"We've played well against the top teams in the league, and we've played well against Vancouver," said Taylor Hall, who collected a goal and an assist against the Canucks when the teams last met on Jan. 24. "The last game we played in their building was very good before going into the All-Star break. With the exception of our last game, we've done a lot of good things in this last little bit.

"We need a lot of the same. We know how good they're playing (right now)."

"It's a little bit of a Canadian rivalry," added Ryan Jones, who snapped a 22-game goalless drought on Friday. "You know what you're going to get with these guys. They're a dynamic team and we've got to be ready to battle or else they're going to take us out of the game right away. There might be a little fear or a lot of respect, but we always manage to play well against these guys."

As Jones explains, in order to get back on the winning track – as the orange and blue have dropped two straight on the club's current three-game homestand – shoring up a sloppy effort is Job 1.

"The effort is the thing that we need to change the most," he said. "It's a matter of coming out and matching the intensity of the team you're going to play against. If we do that and we get a good special teams effort, we'll give ourselves a good chance to win."

"It was the team play that was disappointing the most against Colorado," added Krueger, who didn't wan to single anyone out. "I feel that the combination of people right now gives us a depth of going through this game today eye-to-eye, four lines matching against each other."

Krueger, who's now 0-4 as an NHL head coach (he was 0-2 last year when Head Coach Tom Renney had to dismiss himself due to the death of his father), feels that the game's speed, often dictated by the opponent's unwavering skill, has had an effect on the Oilers' performances this season.

"I think it's the amount of time we have the puck," he said. "When we play teams that are equal to us at home, or teams that we feel we look eye-to-eye with like a Colorado, we have a lot of puck possession. Against Vancouver or the other top teams, we seem to move the puck quicker.

"That's what Vancouver automatically does to you. They give you no time, no space, you know that going into the game and you move it quicker. Somehow, it seems to play to our cards better."

If it works out, then the Oilers ought to have another solid outing against this team. While the home side has won only once against them this season in four tries, all have been close matchups that could have gone either way.

As has been stated all season, a quick start is a necessary component en route to victory.

"We need to have a real courageous game as far as our energy is concerned," Krueger said. "We didn't bring a lot of energy into the starts against Toronto and against Colorado, so the energy that you feel off our bench and into the game will be critical for our success." 

-- Ryan Dittrick, - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick


Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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