Game #49 Preview – Oil Well? Not Even Close

Alex Burrows will be looking to light the lamp, just like last game,
leaving laughing fans to love Alex long time.
(Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #49 – Oilers @ Canucks

The Canucks are looking to push toward top spot in the Conference and the NHL . The Oilers are failing miserably and falling hard. A tale of two teams, Northwest Divisions foes whose records this season and over the last few years has been at opposite ends of the spectrum.

And yet… Canucks fans know that this is just the sort of game that the Canucks love to lose. THE DREADED TRAP.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:00 PM PT

TV: RSN-PAC Radio: Team1040

The Setup

The Edmonton Oilers are a terrible hockey club. They’re the worst road team in the league (based on points per game), and are the worst team in the league over the past 10 games. And the only reason they aren’t in last place in the league is because the Columbus Blue Jackets are even worse. Lofty company, to be sure. But, just like the Blue Jackets, the Oilers have been brutalized with injuries, and now is no exception. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert and Cam Barker are all out. Taylor Hall has missed a number of games, as has Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle

The Oilers are coming off a fluke shootout win over the San Jose Sharks, thanks entirely to Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers were outshot and outchanced by a factor of 3 to 1, but thanks to steady goaltending from Dubnyk (Christ, I can’t believe I just wrote that!) the Oilers stole two points. However, the Oilers will most likely be starting Nikolai Khabibulin tonight, who’s not exactly on a hot streak lately. Oh no, quite the opposite. Khabi is 1-9-1 in his last 11 GP,  and has allowed 4 goals or more in 6 of his last 8 games.

For the Canucks, they need to get into this game quickly and swiftly. The Oilers are reeling and played last night. They are playing with several AHL’ers because of a continuous rash of injuries. They haven’t scored more than 3 goals against the Canucks all season… yet have scored 3 goals in all 3 of their meetings. And one player to whom the Canucks must pay particular attention is Jordan Eberle. Eberle is one of the lone bright spots for the Oilers this season, and has been on a tear lately. And factor in that Eberle have 4G 6A 10 Pts in 8 GP against the Canucks, and six of his 10 points have come on the power play (3PPG 3PPA). Watch Eberle and watch the Oilers power play (more on that in the Three Keys).

And don’t let the wounded walk for long. Put these zombies out of their misery.

Game Notes

Sami Salo will return to the lineup after missing 6 games with a concussion. Roberto Luongo will likely get the start for the Canucks, while Khabibulin is expected to start for the Oilers.


Devan Dubnyk will get the start for the Oilers tonight, despite playing last night in Edmonton against the Sharks. It’s proof that the Oilers have no faith in Khabibulin whatsoever right now. Also, Ryan Whitney will return to the ice tonight. Although, in all likelihood, Whitney will be knocked out of the game by the midway point of the game. He’s not so durable, you see.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Avoiding lazy penalties. If the Canucks start this game in the doldrums, playing down to their opponent as they’re wont to do, they’ll start chasing. If they start chasing, they’re going to start taking lazy penalties (hello Sedins!). Lazy penalties are going to kill the Canucks tonight. Cannot play with them. Cannot win with them. Cannot coach with them. Can’t do it. Which means that a real battle tonight will be…
  2. Canucks PK vs Oilers PP. The Canucks are not exactly a disciplined team, and the Oilers have a reasonably potent power play (ranked 3rd at 20.9%). With Salo back in the lineup, the Canucks are a sounder team defensively. This has to hold true on the PK as well.
  3. First to 4 goals. Light this team up. Vancouver is 2-1-0 against Edmonton this year so far. Both of their wins were by an identical 5-3 score. The Canucks have to turn this game into a goal fest, because the Oilers simply don’t have the defence or the goaltending to match the Canucks. If the Canucks try to play a lock down style, the Oilers could pot a few goals and escape with a win. I want to see the Canucks and Oilers trade 2-on-1 chances all game long. If so, the Canucks have more firepower than the Oilers. Just don’t let the Oilers get this to a shoot-out.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Salo’s back with Canucks to take on Oilers (The Province)
  3. Canucks vs Oilers Gameday (The Province)
  4. Canucks’ Cody Hodgson starts raising eyebrows (Vancouver Sun)
  5. Hodgson, Canucks host Oilers (CBC Sports)