January 20 2010 11:42AM
Canucks hope to pot a TON of goals against Dubnyk and the Oilers. Everyone else has lately. Photograph by : Nick Procaylo
The Vancouver Canucks play the first of back-to-back games as they face the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place tonight. Although the Oilers are currently in last place in the Western Conference, those last place teams have been giving the Canucks a lot of trouble this season.
The Edmonton Oilers are in the midst of a horrific tailspin at the moment. They are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, and have lost 5 in row in regulation, and 8 in row overall. In those eight losses, Edmonton has been outscored 33-15. To add insult to injury the Canucks are 3-1-0 against the Oilers this season, outscoring them 15-5.
Edmonton is in the bottom 3 in a whole host of team categories - Wins, Points, GA/g, Total GA, PK%, GA 5-on-5, GA @ Home. In other words, defense is the problem for the Oilers. Specifically, goaltending is the problem for the Oilers. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is 41st in the league in GAA (3.18) and 40th in Sv% (.896). Devan Dubnyk, who is actually getting the start tonight for the Oilers, is even worse statistically, with a GAA of 4.09 and a Sv% of .863. However... Dubnyk hasn't won yet, and the Canucks are infamous for giving players milestone markers, like a first NHL win.
The big problem for the Canucks is overlooking the Oilers. The Canucks have not done well this season in playing the so-called "minnows", the lower-ranked teams who are deemed beatable. In this case, the Oilers have been just awful lately. Luckily for the Canucks, their next opponent (Dallas Stars) is not exactly a juggernaut either. So they don't really have a reason look past this game with Edmonton.
The Canucks main worry will be juggling their own lineup. Ryan Johnson, Steve Bernier and Pavol Demitra are all healthy again, although Johnson may still have to sit out because he was placed on LTIR. However, Willie Mitchell is not healthy. Mitchell aggravated his back when he was hit from behind by Evgeni Malkin on Saturday night. At this point, it is undecided who will fill his spot on the blueline, because the Canucks have not recalled anyone from the Manitoba Moose. That likely means that Aaron Rome will slot back in on the back end, although that has not been confirmed yet.
The Canucks need to bump this slump of playing poorly against the low rungs in the league. They are playing a weak, struggling divisional opponent. The Canucks must see the Oilers for who they are - a wounded animal. Come on, Canucks - do us all a favour. Break the poor thing's neck and put it out of its misery.
Also, check out what Oilers fans are saying at OilersNation.com