Canucks Army GDT #2 – Oilers @ Canucks

For the third time in little over a week, the Vancouver Canucks are set to face the Edmonton Oilers. Tonight’s tilt is set to take place at Rogers Arena, with the visiting Oilers fresh off the heels of a 5-2 loss at the hands of their provincial rival, Calgary Flames.

Not that pride has ever been in high-supply within that locker room, but they’re a year older and perhaps it’s an acquired taste that they’re just now beginning to introduce to their palate. It’s within the realm of possibility that they come out all guns firing and better prepared for the Canucks than we could ever imagine.

By that same token, the recent matchup totals between these two clubs in Rogers Arena aren’t overly flattering of the Oilers or their chances tonight. Over the past five seasons, the Oilers have accrued a 3-10-1 record in Vancouver. 

There’s a great little rivalry brewing between these two clubs. Regardless of whether Zack Kassian invokes Copper and Blue’s use of the the Code of Hammurabi again, it should be fun.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet, TVA2

Radio: TSN 1040

The Lineup

Courtesy of www.DailyFaceoff.com:

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis 
Dan Hamhuis
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton

No changes to the Canucks lineup from opening night. Of course, both featured Yannick Weber on the third-pairing in Daily Faceoff’s lineup previews. It’s entirely possible that on both occasions Weber’s spot is temporary, while the Canucks wait upon Bieksa’s decision on whether he will play or not. Bieksa is dealing with a lingering injury to his shoulder that he developed in the pre-season.

Bieksa has always been representative of the kind of “meat and potatoes” hockey player fan bases grow to love. In large, it has to do with his penchant for playing through pain, recovering post-haste from injuries that should require lengthy stays on the IR and his affinity for fighting. The former of those three qualities lends reflects favorably on Bieksa drawing in for Weber tonight. I would expect it.

Bo Horvat is dealing with a similar injury to that of the one Bieksa is ailing from, and I suspect this is the only thing keeping him from the Canucks lineup at this moment. I don’t necessarily agree with the thought process behind this, but I imagine management will at least give him his nine games before deciding on his future with or without the Canucks NHL roster. Looking at this lineup, I am curious to see who draws out for the youngster when he is healthy. But that’s a problem for another night.

Even someone so bold and unfair to Luca Sbisa as I most certainly am has to admit that he played admirably in a role that vastly exceeded his abilities as a defenceman on Wednesday. A part of me wants to attribute this to his playing alongside Dan Hamhuis. Even if that was the case it bodes well for the Canucks going into tonight. Assuming Bieksa does step into the lineup, he won’t be rushed into heavy minutes and a top-four role against Edmonton’s best.

If there is one part of this lineup that irks me, it’s Brad Richardson’s spot on the third line. As Rhys pointed out in his gamer from Wednesday, that’s asking a lot of him. Where we differ in opinion is that I would prefer to see Matthias get his shot, while Rhys would rather see Hansen. There are merits to both options, but subjectivity aside I’m right.

Defensive Pairings
Brad Hunt 
Brad Hunt
Justin Schultz 
Justin Schultz
Andrew Ference 
Andrew Ference
Jeff Petry 
Jeff Petry
Nikita Nikitin 
Nikita Nikitin
Mark Fayne 
Mark Fayne

The more things change, the more they stay the same in Edmonton. It’s out of the pan and into the fire with their youngsters, as exemplified by the use of 18 year old Leon Draisaitl as a second-line center. I’m feeling pretty solid about Nick Bonino’s role on the Canucks, all of a sudden.

Alongside their adolescent forwards, the Oilers bring in tow a group of defencemen that looks quite different from anything the Canucks have seen in recent years. As a matter of fact, there are three new faces among their top-six. They include Nikita Nikitin, Mark Fayne and Brad Hunt. I like the additions of Fayne and Nikitin, but admittedly haven’t an opinion either way on Hunt; seeing as I know little to nothing about him.

The most important additions to this Oilers squad can be found in their middle-six forwards. As a Teddy Purcell fantasy hockey owner – in the past – I can attest to his streaky scoring. I can also attest to periods of sheer dominance from the un-drafted Newfy. His rate stats exemplify this prolific production. Purcell’s primary assists/60 rate from last season eclipsing that of household names like David Krejci, Claude Giroux and Gustav Nyquist. Thus far, he is the Oilers leading scorer with a goal and assist.

This wouldn’t be a #fancystats blog if we didn’t bring up the addition of Benoit Pouliot as well. Talk about filling a need. Pouliot’s boxcar stats do little to flatter, but when a player does everything else as well as Pouliot does, it counts for something. Over the last three seasons, Pouliot’s team has scored 61% of all goals at even-strength with him on the ice. That is obscene. There’s also the monopoly his team employs on the puck with him skating. For a team as devoid of puck possession as the Oilers, inserting a player like this into their lineup could pay large dividends. 

Here’s to hoping they see them at any point other than tonight!

  • RealMcHockeyReturns

    I don’t mind the third line too much. I think Richardson and Kassian had some chemistry last year. I’m cool with giving them some time. If anything, switch Kass and Higgins. Line 2 didn’t impress and they seem to be a bit of a question mark. It’s still way too early to panic. That’ll happen when we meet the Cali teams and the tougher NHL team!

    • RealMcHockeyReturns

      I couldn’t agree more. My god, it was really hard to listen to them. At one point I switched the “French” broadcast (there weren’t even announcers) just to get away from them.

      I was unimpressed with the 2nd line to begin with, but they really found their game later on. I wish we could get a little more scoring from a line that doesn’t include a Sedin or two, though they could have had 2 or 3 more goals tonight.