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PREVIEW: Oilers at Canucks

Oilers look to continue perfect pre-season with a road date in Vancouver

by Meg Tilley and Marc Ciampa / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers @ Canucks Pre-Game

The Oilers continue their pre-season with a game in Vancouver against the Canucks. It can be seen live on Sportsnet 1 starting at 8:00 PM MDT. 

Check below for our complete game preview, which will be updated throughout the morning with lineup updates as well as our Morning Skate Report. 

INSIDE THE OILERS

In additon to coverage of the return to camp of Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the World Cup, we also talked to Gary Bettman and Wayne Gretzky in Toronto as the NHL kicked off its Centennial celebrations.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

MORNING SKATE REPORT

Oilers lineup for the game at Vancouver:

Projected based on coach McLellan's pre-game comments:

Forward Lines:

Lucic-McDavid-Eberle
Maroon-Caggiula-Versteeg
Pouliot-Sallinen-Slepyshev
Beck-Khaira-Pitlick

Defencemen:

Reinhart - Simpson
Laleggia - Musil
Nurse - Davidson

Goaltenders:

Gustvasson will start
Ellis backs up

Canucks projected lineup for the game at Vancouver:

Forwards:

Skille - Zalewski - Rodin
Etem - Granlund - Dorsett
Carcone - Megna - Burrows
Labate - Sutter - D'Aoust

Defence:

Edler - Stecher
Hutton - Gudbranson
Brisebois - Tanev
Juolevi - Biega

Goaltenders:

Miller/Demko

EDMONTON, AB - As the Oilers welcomed back Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid on Tuesday, their main focus has now been turned to game three of the pre-season as the team heads to Vancouver to face the Canucks.

Last season, the Oilers forced the exhibition game into overtime at Rogers Arena, which lasted just 29 seconds before Daniel Sedin finished a feed from his brother Henrik to lift Vancouver to a 3-2 victory, as Edmonton closed out the pre-season with a 6-1-1 record.

Their two-game sweep on Monday night in the annual split-squad against the Calgary Flames starts them out with a 2-0-0 record, and they hope they can continue their win streak.

FOR CAGGIULA, IT'S ALL ABOUT FLEXIBILITY

Drake Caggiula is sporting a new look these days.

"In the first intrasquad game I took a hit from behind and went face first into the dasher," he said. If anything, his shiner certainly adds to the edge that he's brought with him to the Oilers Main Camp.

Having suited up for the home portion of the split-squad pre-season opener on Monday night at Rogers Place against the Calgary Flames, Caggiula centred the top forward line with Milan Lucic and Jordan Eberle.

"I thought it got better as the game went on," he said. "I think little nerves and anxiousness took over in the early part, but as the game went on I thought I was a lot better, got my legs underneath me and started to make more plays. Playing with Lucic and Eberle, they gave me a lot of insight just to slow the game down. It's not as fast as you think it is and that really helped me out."

Tonight, the 22-year-old will centre Patrick Maroon and Kris Versteeg as the Oilers head to Vancouver.

"It's going to give me a lot of help out there, two guys that have been in the league for a while, and I look forward to playing with them both," he said.

Caggiula, who comes to the Oil from the University of North Dakota, played mostly on the left wing and on occasion would take the centre position when needed.

"I'd probably say I was closer to 80 per cent at left wing and 20 per cent at centre, but you know I feel pretty comfortable playing there," he said.

Since entering Oilers Rookie Camp and then transitioning to Main Camp, Caggiula hasn't found the centre role too daunting of a task to take on.

"I played centre growing up my entire life," he explained. "I'm trying to work hard and learn as much as I can from the other centremen here and just trying to prepare myself as best I can and ask as many questions as I can. I think, with my speed, it kind of helps me out, being able to keep my feet moving and not having to stop along the wall, so I'm feeling a lot more comfortable every single day and that's all you can ask for.

"I'm glad to be here to play any position they ask me to play, whether it's left wing, right wing, centre, defence, whatever they ask. I'm just going to do whatever I can to make this team and if that has to be as a centreman then that's what I'm going to do and there's going to be no complaints from me."

GUSTAVSSON TAKES POSITION

Tonight, Oilers goaltender Jonas Gustavsson will start between the pipes in Vancouver, while Nick Ellis is expected to play the third period. 

The 6-foot-4, 201-pound netminder made a good first impression in his Oilers debut on Monday night in Calgary, playing 30 minutes and stopping all 11 shots he faced during the 2-1 win.

"The first game is always going to be a bit rusty for all of us and it was a pretty good start," he said. "There's always a few things you can work on, but it was a good start."

Gustavsson, who signed a one-year contract with the Oilers on July 1, was the backup netminder for the Bruins last season, compiling an 11-9-1 record with a 2.72 GAA and .908 save percentage over 24 appearances.

"I don't think about it as number one, number two, how many games I'm going to play and all that - especially now getting a little older," he said.

"Maybe that was more in the beginning of my career, I wanted to have to be the number one guy and all that, but now it's more about making sure you're doing everything you can to help the team when you get the chance. If that's playing 20 games, 15 games or 50 games… I know, if I play good, you're going to get more opportunities, no matter what, but you can't really predict what's going to happen in a season, too. There's a lot of things that could happen, so for me it's about trying to improve and when I'm getting the chance I'm just going to do whatever I can to help the team."

With several goaltenders attending Oilers Main Camp this year, the competition is fierce to fill the number two spot. Up-and-comers Laurent Brossoit (who played five NHL games last season), Eetu Laurikainen and Nick Ellis are all in the mix with the veteran.

"Wherever you go there is always a bunch of good goalies," said Gustavsson.

"Same thing here, [Brossoit]'s a young guy with a lot of talent and he's got a bright future, but that's not a new situation for me. There's always a guy knocking on the door that wants to take your spot, whether you're the number one goalie, number two goalie, number three goalie - that's the fun part. You've got to push yourself to become a better goalie every year, otherwise someone's going to take your spot. There's only 60 spots in the league - and I don't know how many goalies that want to play in the league - so that's what makes it fun, that's what pushes you and that's what makes you want to get better."

-- Meg Tilley, edmontonoilers.com

PREVIEW

OILERS (2-0-0) at CANUCKS (0-0-1)

TV: 8 p.m. MT; Sportsnet 1

Oilers team scope: Jonas Gustavsson stopped all 11 shots he faced on Monday in Calgary and Laurent Brossoit was almost perfect as well, turning aside 21 of 22 with the lone exception being a Mark Giordano goal on a six-on-three power play with nine seconds left in the game. If those two get the call again, it should be another good test for the netminders. ... A late addition to the lineup, Tyler Pitlick impressed on Monday night at Rogers Place with a goal and an assist. Pitlick also had six shots on goal. ... Darnell Nurse played a solid game in Calgary paired with Brandon Davidson. He was named one of the game's three stars and had an assist plus two shots on goal. ... After a successful turn at the World Cup of Hockey, there's a good chance at least one of Connor McDavid or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will find their way into pre-season action tonight. 

Canucks team scope: On Tuesday night, the Canucks saw a 2-1 lead in San Jose evaporate with 23 seconds left on the clock as the Sharks tied the game late. The hosts then were victorious 1:05 into the extra frame on a goal by Kevin Lablanc. ... Neither Daniel nor Henrik Sedin played on Tuesday so there's a chance that both may see their pre-season debuts this evening at home after both skated in the World Cup of Hockey. ... Vancouver went with a very young defence core on Tuesday: Pedan, Billins, Sautner, Subban, Tryamkin and former Oiler Philip Larsen, which means that the Oilers will likely see a more veteran crew tonight.   

-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com

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