Canucks Army GDT #19 – Canucks @ Oilers

They call these “trap games.” Sometimes, either after a big win when you can have a major let down, or before a big game when you can overlook your opponent, teams can overlook squads well below them in the standings and cough up an otherwise eminently winnable two points.

Well, with Ryan Kesler making his return to Vancouver tomorrow night, you wouldn’t be wrong to suspect that the Canucks could overlook a bottom-of-the-standings team that they’ve owned in the recent past. This would could be a costly mistake though, as the 2014-2015 Edmonton Oilers may legitimately be just as good as the 2014-2015 Vancouver Canucks.

Read past the jump.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 5:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa
Dan Hamhuis 
Dan Hamhuis
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber

Zack Kassian will return from a leg injury. Luca Sbisa will sit out with an undisclosed injury. Bo Horvat may also take Linden Vey’s spot at 4th line centre, as Horvat was practicing there on Monday. Ryan Miller will start in goal.

Defensive Pairings
Andrew Ference 
Andrew Ference
Jeff Petry 
Jeff Petry
Nikita Nikitin 
Nikita Nikitin
Mark Fayne 
Mark Fayne
Justin Schultz 
Justin Schultz
Keith Aulie 
Keith Aulie

Taylor Hall will play his second game since returning from injury. Ben Scrivens will start in goal.

Preview

Now, I wouldn’t blame you if you were caught overlooking this game ahead of tomorrow’s return of Ryan Kesler to Rogers Arena. After all, it’s the Oilers. Vancouver has beaten them three times already this season, and Edmonton still sits in the thick of the Connor McDavid sweepstakes. On the surface, not much has changed.

But less than 20 games in to the NHL season, things are rarely as clear as they appear on the surface. Look past each team’s record and goal differential, and you see two teams that are (disturbingly so, if you’re a Canucks fan) virtually identical in terms of even strength effectiveness. Both teams have received atrocious goaltending at 5-on-5 and have been allowing goals at a rate worse than the Buffalo Sabres, and are generating shots at a nearly identical rate too. The only difference is where Vancouver has had poor shooting luck, Edmonton’s has been awful.

In fact, the Oilers sit above the Canucks in terms of raw 5-on-5 Corsi%, which is a terrifying prospect if you’re hoping for playoff glory this season. Adjusted for score effects, they’re basically indistinguishable from each other too. The Canucks do, however, possess slightly better score-adjusted Fenwick numbers, but that’s not much consolation seeing as adjusted Corsi generally provides a better measure.

The point of all of this is that even though they’re playing the Anaheim Ducks at home tomorrow night, Vancouver absolutely cannot overlook a suddenly competent Oilers squad. And seeing as the Canucks are coming off a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the Coyotes and have had plenty of time to practice, there is absolutely no excuse for not being energetic tonight. It would be a massive mistake to overlook the Oilers, as they appear to be closer to the Canucks in team talent than they have been for a long, long time.

  • DCR

    It seems like the Canucks are either really competitive or just completely inept in every game they play. There doesn’t seem to be any real in-between.

    Let’s hope they are the former tonight…

    • The Nucks have always been hot n cold like that, for some reason.
      Even during their dominant seasons they would soil the linen against a bottom feeder once in a while, just to keep us humble.
      And during the garbage years, they eould occasionally smack the crap out of a heavyweight team, just to give us false hope.

      This team has always been a fickle mistress.

  • But the idea of directly comparing our corsi/5 v 5 numbers is that it doesn’t account at all for shot quality.

    Last year under torts we were a decent corsi team and one could argue that we were ‘snakebit’. However, if you watched the season, you would know that we played a system that involved a whole lot of unscreened, easy shots. Looks good to the bloggers, but doesn’t win games.

    From perusing hfoil it sounds like some of the more knowledgeable posters are suggesting that this team is doing a lot of that.

    • Yeah, always disliked how heavily people rely on the shots on goal stat. Last year’s Canucks showed us how deceptive that stat can be. They had tons of shots but they were not dangerous.

      I still don’t think the Canucks can compete with the powerhouse teams. I’m hoping Benning makes some big moves in January.

  • Miller tonight? does that mean Lack tomorrow? This is the part of Willie’s strategy that I least understand. Personally, I’d play Lack today in the easier game and Miller tomorrow. Oh well, hopefully it works out for us, we could use 2 Ws instead of 1.

  • It would be nice if these game day threads also included puck drop times and where (or if) the games are televised – particularly if there’s any coverage for us canucks fans in the states!

  • @Max in Seattle

    Gametime is6:30 Pacific Time

    Check NHL Centre Ice, as that would be your best bet.

    *would be nice to see the Canucks in the standings (either division or conference would work).

  • Edmonton should be tougher tonight, with Josh Harding in goal.

    Wait… What??
    They didn’t claim him?

    The Oilers have become front runners for Connor “Hands of Stone” McDavid