VANCOUVER, BC - The Oilers take their four-game win streak to Vancouver for a divisional showdown with the Canucks. Edmonton leads the Pacific Division in goals this season, with 27 in seven games. The Canucks are on the opposite end of that stat, scoring the fewest in the division and third fewest in the League with 15.
One might not expect much of a track meet game against Vancouver, but the Oilers aren't falling into the trap of predicting a result before it takes place.
"You never know what to expect in today's game," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "When you finally make your mind up that the game is probably going to be played a certain way or may be low-scoring, you get the exact opposite. We'll worry about our game and we'll play to what our strengths are if we can, and we'll look up at the end of the night and hopefully that's good enough."
Not only have the Oilers had offensive success with the volume of goals scored so far in their 6-1-0 start, they have seen the scoring come from throughout their lineup. Edmonton has nine players with two or more goals this season, as opposed to Vancouver's four.
"Every line can get the job done offensively and nobody gives up too much on the defensive side too," said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "We've got a good dynamic going now and it's definitely good to see. For a team to be a good team in this League, you need to have depth up front and on the back end. It's good to see we're getting production from everybody right now."
The Oilers have been able to deploy a balanced offensive attack, and have also been able to score a variety of ways.
"I think it has allowed us to win games, quite frankly," said McLellan. "When you get scoring from unusual sources on a regular basis you have a better chance of winning. It often means your third or fourth line is outplaying the other team's third or fourth line. It hasn't just been that. We've been able to score shorthanded, we've had some timely goals off faceoffs or forechecks that the whole group is contributing to. We're happy for that depth. We hope that can continue, but we know the task will get harder as we go forward."
As for the individual players, knowing that the lineup is full of contributors helps alleviate any added pressure to perform that would come from a limited offensive attack.
"It definitely helps," said Nugent-Hopkins. "It gives you confidence to stop worrying so much about just scoring. If you know other guys can get it done then you can just go out and play your game, relax a little bit. I know sometimes you get in the mind set that you need to go score, you need to produce offensively. Everybody wants to do that but if you start forcing it bad things can happen. It's great to have the confidence in everybody to get it done."
There's no better time to beat Ryan Miller than the present. The Canucks goaltender is 12-0-1 lifetime against the orange and blue. Miller's .962 win percentage against the Oilers is his highest against any opponent in his career. While it's an interesting stat to quote, the Oilers don't read into it that much.
"I don't know if it really means anything when you get down to it," said Nugent-Hopkins. "He's obviously done well against the Oilers, but it's a fresh start for us. We want to change that tonight for sure."
Miller is 1-2-0 this season with a 1.97 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. He was first off the ice for Vancouver following their morning skate and is expected to start. The Canucks as a team are hard to score on this season, having allowed just 17 goals against - tied with the Oilers for fifth in the League.
The lineup remains the same as the Oilers last game, a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Cam Talbot is expected to start his eighth game. The Oilers goaltender is 6-1-0 with a .927 save percentage.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (6-1-0) at CANUCKS (4-2-1)
TV: 8:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet 360
Tonight marks the first of five meetings this season between the Canucks and Oilers. The next time these teams will meet is on December 31st in Edmonton.
The last time the Oilers and Canucks met in regular season was on April 9th in Vancouver, to close out the 2015-16 season. The Canucks won by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Patrick Maroon all scored for the Oilers, while Emerson Etem scored the shootout deciding goal for Vancouver.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers currently sit second in the NHL with 12 points and also rank second in goal differential (+10) as well as goals for/games played (3.83). Edmonton is currently tied for the league lead in goals for (27) with the New York Rangers and has outscored their opponents 10-2 in their last three games.
Jordan Eberle has more career NHL goals (12) against Vancouver than against any other NHL franchise. He has registered 21 points (12G, 9A) in 30 games. Eberle ranks second on the Oilers this season, with six points (3G, 3A), in seven games. He also leads the team with 22 shots on net.
Milan Lucic currently sits 10th in the NHL among forwards in hits (20) and he posted a goal last game against Washington. The Oilers currently rank seventh in the NHL in hits (160).
Defenceman Kris Russell ranks second in the NHL in blocked shots (25) through seven games this season, including eight blocks against St. Louis on Oct. 20, 2018 and is averaging 3.6 blocks per game. Russell paces the Oilers who rank tied for eighth in the NHL with 105 blocked shots in seven games.
Canucks team scope:
Vancouver is the first team in NHL history to win their first three games of a season while never leading in regulation in any of those games (Oct. 15-18).
The Canucks goals-against average is 2.22 which is fourth-lowest in the NHL. ... The Canucks have allowed the eighth-fewest shots per game at 25.3.
Henrik Sedin has 81 points (17-64-81) in 87 career games vs. Edmonton, his highest point total vs any opponent. He leads the Canucks this season with three goals and five points in seven games.
Daniel Sedin has 80 points (36-44-80) in 84 career games vs. Edmonton, his second highest point total vs any opponent (83 points versus Calgary).
Ryan Miller's .962 win percentage versus Edmonton is his highest versus any opponent (record of 12-0-1).