Tonight the Oilers play host to the Vancouver Canucks as both teams try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Looking at the standings, both teams are currently tied at 65 points but the Oilers have a game in hand and will want to make use of it tonight to create some separation between the clubs.
Vancouver comes into tonight playing the second of a back to back. They were host to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night and the game ended up needing overtime, where the Canucks managed to win it thanks to a goal from Alex Edler. The Canucks are 3-5-2 in their last 10, they haven’t been playing great hockey but the did manage to beat a Leafs team that absolutely dismantled the Oilers a week ago, so they should be coming into tonights game feeling pretty good. The idea of being tired on a back to back seems to be a little overblown these days, especially considering how well athletes maintain their health in today’s game. However, the Canucks played in Vancouver and went to overtime against a skilled Maple Leaf lineup, they then had to travel to Edmonton today, losing an hour of time leaving less time for recovery. The Oilers should look to take advantage of a tired Canucks club early tonight, getting off to a quick start has to be key for the Oilers. Combine that with a heavy physical game early would go a long ways in helping tire out the Canucks throughout the game.
The Oilers come into tonight on a 3 game win streak, after narrowly beating last placed Ottawa, demolishing a loaded up Blue Jackets roster, and having a massive second period comeback against a slightly better Buffalo Sabres club. There is quite a mixed bag of results when looking at the fashion in which the Oilers won those games but a couple things are consistent in this string of wins. The Oilers have been getting solid goaltending from Mikko Koskinen, Draisaitl is on a huge heater that can hopefully help him hit the 50 goal mark this season, and possibly the biggest reason is there has been an influx of secondary scoring. This isn’t to say there has been a lot of secondary scoring but considering the Oilers have had next to zero secondary scoring, any help has a very large influence on the teams performance.
If the Oilers want to continue their push towards the playoffs it has to continue here tonight at Rogers Place. Here are the Lineups that will be doing battle
RNH – McDavid – Kassian
Chiasson – Draisaitl – Gagner
Lucic – Cave – Currie
Reider – Brodziak – Khaira
Klefbom – Larsson
Nurse – Russell
Sekera – Benning
There was no formal practice today and it’s expected that Khaira will draw back into the lineup, I’d expect him to take Rattie’s place in the line up but we will see once the lineups are officially announced.
It also looks like as long as the Oilers still have playoff hopes they are going to run with Koskinen in net, it may be a while until we see Stolarz in any sort of action.
Pearson – Horvat – Goldobin
Leivo – Pettersson – Boeser
Roussel – Gaudette – Granlund
Eriksson – Beagle – Motte
Edler – Biega
Pouliot – Stetcher
Sautner – Schenn
With the Canucks coming off a back to back expect Demko to get the start tonight. Also of note Ashton Sautner is a former Oil King who has slowly worked his way into some NHL playing time, It’s always fun to see guys who went through the Oil Kings in the NHL.
Elias Pettersson is in the midst of a Calder Trophy winning season and already in his young career has torched the Oilers, especially on the power play. The Oilers will have to be very cognizant of him and do their best to stay out of the penalty box if they plan to have a successful night.
Tonight the Oilers will be wearing their blue jerseys for the last time this season. It’s a shame this isn’t their regular home jersey it should be. Hopefully over the course of the offseason we can see it re-introduced as the home. Or possibly even better in my opinion would be to unveil a home jersey like the Condors home jersey, a nice navy blue base with the orange accents, they look so sharp, I would love to see an Oilers version of it.