Game Day Recon #28 – Canucks @ Oilers
The Vancouver Canucks look to rebound from an overtime loss last night at home, as they travel to Edmonton to face the Oilers for the second time this season at Rexall Place. Last time around, former Oiler Raffi Torres scored a hat-trick and the game winning goal after his former club clawed back from a 3-0 deficit.
Has Raffi got some more magic in him tonight?
Game Time: 5:00 PM PT
The Canucks are statistically better than the Oilers in almost every conceivable category. But the Oilers dug themselves some pretty nasty holes in the stats columns. So it’s going to be tough for them to climb up out of them. And they are definitely trying to climb out. In their last eight games, the Oilers are 8-1-1. One big reason for that is the play of Nikolai Khabibulin, who is 3-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .957 Sv% in last 4 GPI. It is clear that the Oilers are playing much better lately. And the Canucks need to be very wary of a time that is already playing with nothing to lose, and playing well without any pressure or expectation.
However, they face the Canucks tonight without both Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, both out with injuries. Those are both key losses, given that Hemsky and Horcoff were 2nd and 3rd respectively on the team in +/-, and Hemsky was tied for 2nd in team scoring with 7G 11A for 18 Pts.
One of their replacements certainly left his "omark" on the NHL (see what I did there?!) in his first game. Linus Omark played his first NHL game against Tampa Bay on Friday and scored the shootout winner on an oft-discussed spin-o-rama move that fooled goalie and twitter pyrriah Dan Ellis. Certainly full of flash and bravado, Omark will have his hands full with a defense that is far more difficult against which to play that the Lightning, seeing as how Lightning have allowed the most goals in the league and have the worst GAA as well.
So the Canucks provide a far stronger opponent to the Oilers. And let’s hope the Canucks do test the Oilers tonight, that they can put a tough OT loss behind them and do something they’ve been quite good at this year, and that’s beating up on Northwest division opponents.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Intimidation. The Oilers have a bunch of rookies in the lineup, taking over for some ailing vets. It’s time the Canucks assert their man-strength and push the young, inexperienced Oilers around. If the Canucks can play a cantankerous, pissed-off game tonight, they should throw the emerging Oilers stars off their game.
2. Rebound quickly. Rebound quickly from last night’s game. Snap up rebounds quickly in front of the Oilers net. Rebound quickly after tough shifts. That is a HUGE key for the Canucks. They need to grab momentum early. If they do relinquish it, they need to grab it back ASAP.
3. Shots, shots and more shots. The Canucks need to come out firing early and often. The Oilers give up almost 35 shots per game, while taking only 26 per game. The Canucks should honestly be aiming for at least 40 shots on Khabibulin tonight.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Oilers (canucks.com)
2. Canucks-Oilers Preview (CBS Sports)
3. Fox Sports GameTrax: Canucks @ Oilers (Foxsports.com)
4. Game Day: Oilers vs. Canucks (Edmonton Journal)
5. GDB 29.0: Oilers vs. Canucks (Oilers Nation) >>> READ WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!