Canucks Army GDT #10 – Canucks @ Oilers

We like to make fun of Alberta’s NHL teams a lot around here because, let’s face it, they’re not very good. Despite a solid start to the year, Calgary’s possession numbers indicate that they’re closer to contending for Connor McDavid than they are to contending for a playoff spot, and for a while, it seemed like the only thing that Edmonton could win were draft lotteries.

Well, the Oilers have won 4 of their last 5 games, and look as if they’ve finally begun the climb back to respectability in the Pacific division.

Read past the jump for a preview of tonight’s game.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: CBC

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Dan Hamhuis 
Dan Hamhuis
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber

Jannik Hansen will skate in Alex Burrows’ spot on the second line. Tom Sestito will draw in on line 4. Ryan Stanton may replace Yannick Weber on D3. Ryan Miller will start in goal.

Defensive Pairings
Brad Hunt 
Brad Hunt
Justin Schultz 
Justin Schultz
Andrew Ference 
Andrew Ference
Jeff Petry 
Jeff Petry
Martin Marincin 
Martin Marincin
Mark Fayne 
Mark Fayne

Ben Scrivens will start in goal for the Oilers.

Preview

When we last saw these Oilers, the Canucks had shut them out 2-0, giving them their 5th straight loss to start the season. Things have since turned around for Edmonton though, as they immediately proceeded to reel off 4 straight wins before dropping their most recent game to the Nashville Predators. They’re still not a good team, but they’re approaching respectability.

Most of Edmonton’s top forwards are in the black in terms of possession this year, but Dallas Eakins has really made an effort to deploy most of his top-9 forwards in the offensive zone, while burying the Hendricks-Gordon-Joensuu group in the defensive end of the rink. In fact, of Edmonton’s top-9 regular forwards, only Jordan Eberle has a sub-60% offensive zone start rate, and even he is at 59.7%. Meanwhile, Joensuu, Hendricks, and Gordon are seeing start rates of 15.3%, 11.8%, and 10.5% respectively.

Dallas Eakins also made some waves this morning in Canuck-land with his gameplan against the Sedins:

The twins are scoring at a 100-point pace so far this season, and have owned the Oilers in the past. And with a Hunt-Schultz first pair, Edmonton may have a hell of a time with the Sedins if they fall into the trap of chasing them. Still, the best way to stop a cycle game from materializing is to be aggressive and take away passing lanes before a good possession can really be established.

Whether or not Edmonton’s defensemen are actually good enough to do this is another matter entirely. We’ll see tonight. For more on what they are saying in Edmonton head here.