The last time the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks met was back on October 5, a 6-2 victory by the Canucks. The game had it's rough moments including some anger between the two benches.
"It's Vancouver," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "It's a rivalry, it's a team that we don't care much for and I know they don't care for us much either. I expect it to be a great battle on the ice and hopefully, there'll be no battle off the ice."
The Oilers and Canucks are two teams that have some animosity towards each other. That kind of energy makes for fun games.
"I think it will be an emotional game," said Oilers forward Mark Arcobello. "It's kind of a rivalry. It's going to be a good atmosphere for sure, in the arena tonight. We have a road trip starting off tonight and we want to kick it off on the right foot."
ARCOBELLO EARNING MORE ICE
Coach Eakins said this morning that he is looking for more out of one of his top centres, Sam Gagner. As the competition continues to heat up amongst the centres on the roster, Mark Arcobello continues to earn more ice time as Eakins rewards those who are performing well.
Arcobello's play last night against Boston earned him some praise from his bench boss.
"Sam is here to be our number one or number two centreman," said Eakins. "He is being challenged greatly by the other centre men, right now and that's a good thing. Mark Arcobello last night, I thought he was our second best forward. He was, for a small guy, sending a message that he was going to finish his checks, he was winning battles, he was setting up plays and that's the fine line on coaching. You want to give guys their ice time and at the same point, sometimes you're giving ice time to try and get someone else going. It's gotten to a point where Arco has earned his minutes and he is going to get those until he falls off."
Arcobello has recorded four points in his last five games and has an average of 67% in the faceoff dot through the past two games. He feels like last night's game against the Bruins was a success due to his compete level.
"I felt like I was okay out there," Arcobello said. "The biggest thing was just competing hard, not really backing down to the bigger guys on the other side and I think what worked for me the best was just being physical and trying to take a hit, give a hit out there. It felt pretty good."
Arcobello will look to play a physical game against Vancouver as well, as he uses it as an energy boost to his game.
"Any game I like to do the same thing just to get into the game and get focused. It helps me by getting physical early. I think it will be a good atmosphere tonight, a fun game. If we stick to some of the things we saw in the second and third last night, I think we'll have some success."
BOYD IS BACK
Oilers forward Boyd Gordon, who the team has said they have missed very much, told the media today he is ready to return to the ice tonight. Gordon has missed every game since November 29, due to a shoulder injury.
"I'm healthy and excited to get back in and get playing again, be around the guys and hopefully I bring some energy tonight," he said.
The Oilers centre is looking forward to getting back, having missed playing the game while on the mend.
"It's tough. Any time you're injured and sitting there watching, you can't play and it's not any fun and you're skating by yourself a lot. For me, I'm excited to get back, get back on the ice and get playing again."
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (11-19-3) at CANUCKS (18-10-5)
Last 10: Edmonton 5-4-1; Vancouver 7-2-1
Season series: This is the second of five games between the Pacific Division rivals. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-2 on Oct. 5 in their home opener.
Big story: The Canucks will try to stay perfect in December by winning the opener of a back-to-back weekend at home. Vancouver is 5-0-0 this month and has won the first three of a five-game homestand that concludes with a visit from the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Oilers flew to Vancouver after a disappointing 4-2 home loss to the Bruins on Thursday.
Oilers: Edmonton outplayed one of the NHL's top teams for most of the game Thursday, but a letdown in the last 10 minutes of the first period were more than the Oilers could overcome. Boston scored three times in less than eight minutes to take a 3-0 lead to the dressing room at the first intermission, and though the Oilers scored twice in the second period and ended up outshooting the Bruins 41-31, they came up short.
"Even in the first, I didn't think we were horrible. I thought we were a victim of circumstance a little bit," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Maybe not totally comfortable in our skin in the first, but in the second and third, obviously that's how we want to play."
Canucks: What do you do when the schedule-maker gives you a three-day break at home? If you're a Canucks rookie, you get up on stage at the team's annual Dice & Ice Benefit and sing the chorus of "I Will Remember You" with singer Sarah McLachlan. Three of the four first-year players limited themselves to the chorus, but forward Zac Dalpe, an aspiring musician, sang along with the two-time Grammy winner and acquitted himself admirably.
It was part of back-to-back days off for the Canucks before they host the Oilers on Friday and the Bruins on Saturday -- a game that marks Boston's first visit to Rogers Arena since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
"If I have an opportunity to give them a day or two off, especially with our schedule," coach John Tortorella said Thursday, "I'm going to give it to them."