The Edmonton Oilers return home tonight following a two-game road trip that saw them split with a win in Colorado and loss in Vancouver.
Their opponent this evening is those same Canucks that defeated the Oilers 5-3 in Vancouver on Thursday night. With a chance to redeem that defeat, the race for positioning in the Northwest Division and Western Conference is heated right now. The Canucks sit six points ahead of the Oilers with both teams having played 53 games. Vancouver is tied with Minnesota for seventh while Edmonton is currently on the outside looking in.
Edmonton was 7-4-2 in January but had trouble gaining ground on the teams in front of them. Vancouver was one of the hottest teams in the league last month. Until their loss in Calgary on Saturday night, the Canucks had only one regulation defeat in 16 games (12-1-3).
In six previous meetings this season with Vancouver, the Oilers have won two, lost three in regulation and lost one in overtime.
OILERS TO WATCH: Despite missing 10 games due to injury, Ryan Smyth
remains on pace to eclipse his career high of 39 goals this season. With 27 goals through 43 games, he is on pace to score 45 on the year Ales Hemsky
is approaching a point-per-game pace with 42 points in 44 games. He is currently averaging 0.95 points per game which is almost exactly what he had last season with 77 points in 81 games. Hemsky has been especially red hot of late with two goals and eight assists for 10 points in his last four games. He also has 13 shots on goal which is well above his season average of 1.73 shots per game. Since January 4, Shawn Horcoff
has been one of the most productive Oilers. In 14 games, he has five goals and nine assists for 14 points. Prior to the hot stretch, he had five goals and 20 points through the first 39 games of the season.
CANUCKS TO WATCH: Taylor Pyatt has been a huge beneficiary of playing with the Sedin twins this season. Through 48 games, he has 15 goals and 26 points. The 15 goals is already a career high, eclipsing the mark of 14 he set in 78 games with Buffalo in 2002-03. Hes also two points off his career high in points, also set that season Both Daniel and Henrik Sedin are on pace to better their career highs in points. Daniel leads the Canucks with 50 points in 52 games. His career high was 71 set last season and hes on pace for 77. Henrik has 49 points and is on pace for 76, bettering his total of 75 from 2005-06.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) is doubtful. Jarret Stoll (mild concussion) is questionable; Vancouver – Rick Rypien (groin) is out. Ryan Kesler (hip) is out.
FAST FACTS: The Canucks and Oilers have the first and second ranked penalty killing units in the NHL respectively. In the six games, neither team has had much success against the others penalty kill. Edmonton is 1-for-34 (2.9%) against the Canucks while Vancouver is 3-for-31 (9.7%) against the Oilers Throughout their six-season careers, the Sedins have been very close to one another in terms of production. Daniel has put up 272 points while Henrik has registered 270. Daniel is more of a marksman with 103 goals to Henriks 69. This season, Daniel Sedin has 20 goals and Henrik has only seven.