Oilers visit Vancouver tonight
The Edmonton Oilers battle Northwest Division rivals the Vancouver Canucks tonight at GM Place. It is the third meeting of the season between the two teams with each team winning on home ice.
Edmonton just completed a seven-game homestand that started off great with four straight wins. However, the Oilers lost in overtime to Anaheim Tuesday night and followed that up with regulation losses to Colorado and Columbus by four-goal margins.
After a solid October that saw the Canucks race out to a 7-4-1 record, their game started to slip as they lost six of their next seven games.
Since that time, Vancouver has mainly been in a win-one lose-one situation. Recently, they're coming off a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night.
OILERS TO WATCH: With Ryan Smyth out with a broken thumb and Hemsky still on the shelf, the onus is on the rest of the team's offensive catalysts to produce. Petr Sykora, Raffi Torres, Jarret Stoll, Joffrey Lupul and Shawn Horcoff all scored more than 20 goals last season but only Lupul and Sykora are at a 20-goal pace.
CANUCKS TO WATCH: The Sedins - Daniel and Henrik - are first and second on the Canucks in scoring. Henrik has 24 points and Daniel has 21. However, with only 10 goals between the two of them they've been doing most of the playmaking with their linemates. Markus Naslund has 12 goals and 7 assists while Taylor Pyatt has 9 goals and 3 assists as both players have certainly thrived at times playing with the twins... Rick Rypien and Tyler Bouck were both recalled from Manitoba on the weekend to provide some spark and energy to the team. Although Rypien is only 5-11 he's willing to drop the gloves at any time and can hold his own.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ryan Smyth (thumb) is out, Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is out, Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Vancouver - Josh Green (toe) is out, Rory Fitzpatrick (ankle) is doubtful, Matt Cooke (upper body) is probable.
MIKHNOV RECALLED: On Sunday, the Oilers recalled left wing Alexei Mikhnov from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Mikhnov started off slow with the Baby Pens with only two assists in his first six games but in his last seven outings he has three goals and five assists for eight points.
FAST FACTS: The Oilers won the first five meetings last season against Vancouver but since that time, the Canucks are 3-2-0 against Edmonton... Nine of Vancouver's 13 games this month are against divisional opponents. they got off to a good start Saturday, defeating Colorado but overall they are only 2-6-1 against the Northwest Division this season... From first to last in the Northwest Division, the point spread is only two points. Edmonton holds top spot with Minnesota at 28 while Calgary and Colorado are in the basement at 26. Vancouver sits in the middle at 27 points... The Canucks have only allowed four power play goals at home this season (94.5% success rate).