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Oilers meet Canucks in Vancouver

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers wrap up a short two-game road trip tonight when they visit the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place. The game is slated to begin at 8:00 p.m. MDT and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet West.

The importance of tonights game cannot be discounted. Last season, Edmonton and Vancouver were neck-and-neck for the final playoff spot with the Oilers ultimately prevailing by three points over their B.C. rivals. In eight meetings in 2005-06, the Oilers had a 6-1-1 record over the Canucks including a victory in the first five match-ups of the season.

OILERS TO WATCH: The highly-touted Oilers offensive attack has come through early on this season. Last Thursday, the team rallied from a 4-1 deficit to defeat San Jose on the strength of Ryan Smyths natural hat trick in the third period. Smyth added two more goals on Saturday against Colorado in another Oilers comeback win as number 94 is off to a red-hot start to the season. Also, keep an eye on the Oilers when they put out the five-man power play unit. Opposing penalty killers are baffled who to defend when Jarret Stoll and Petr Sykora feed one another at the point. Both players have dangerous one-timers when unleashed.

CANUCKS TO WATCH: The Canucks have a whole new look from last season. Gone behind the bench is Marc Crawford, replaced by Alain Vigneault. Roberto Luongo is now the teams top goaltender with Dan Cloutier and Alex Auld having moved on and Todd Bertuzzi is now in Florida. Unlike the high-octane Canucks teams of years past, this seasons club lives and dies with the play of Luongo. Up front, the Canucks have a top line comprised of Henrik and Daniel Sedin as well as Markus Naslund. The team is still struggling to find the right mix on lines two through four. Second line tonight will be Ryan Kesler, Brendan Morrison and Jan Bulis.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist is nursing a sore hip but he will likely suit up. Fernando Pisani's knee has also been bothering him over the past week but he's probable. Vancouver – Sami Salo (groin) is probable.

FAST FACTS: The Canucks play only two of their first 11 games this season on home ice and after having lost their home opener Friday to San Jose they're under a lot of pressure to make this one count With five goals and six points in his last two games, Smyth has made himself a candidate for one of the NHL's three stars of the week. Smyth is tied for fourth in the league in goals at this moment.

UP NEXT: The Oilers face Vancouver again tomorrow night with the scene shifting to Rexall Place. Game time is 7:00 p.m. MDT.
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