NOTE: We are in Vancouver today for the Oilers' final game of the season. Check back all day for regular updates and then log in after the game for extensive post-game coverage.
EDMONTON OILERS (40-35-6) at
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (39-31-10)
8:38 p.m. MDT
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Canucks Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers finish the 2007-08 season tonight in Vancouver, looking to put a serious dent in the playoff hopes of their opponent.
In their last game, the Oilers dropped a 3-2 decision to the Calgary Flames. That loss, coupled with Nashville's 4-3 overtime win over St. Louis mathematically eliminated Edmonton from the 2008 postseason.
Nashville's win didn't help the Canucks, either. Vancouver lost to the Colorado AValanche on Tuesday which allowed the Predators to leapfrog over Vancouver and into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
An Oilers win tonight over the Canucks would likely put a big dent in Vancouver's playoff hopes with only one more game to play following this evening.
This is the eighth and final meeting of the season between these two teams. Edmonton has won three times - all in a shootout - while Vancouver has won four, including the most recent meeting on March 20 at Rexall Place.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (1:56 PM):
Geoff Sanderson will be playing on a line with Zack Stortini
and Mathieu Roy. Roy moves up to forward due to the injuries to Ales Hemsky
and Kyle Brodziak... Dwayne Roloson gets his 11th straight start tonight.
OILERS TO WATCH:
With the injuries last game to Ales Hemsky
and Kyle Brodziak, the Oilers will go with only 11 forwards tonight along with seven defencemen. That means that both Mathieu Roy and Geoff Sanderson draw back into the lineup for Edmonton. Roy has played in 12 games this season with one assist and 12 penalty minutes while the former Canuck Sanderson has three goals and 13 points and is -7 in 40 games. Sanderson leads all Oilers in career points against the Canucks with 21 and 12 goals in 38 games... Tom Gilbert
has two goals and four points in seven games against Vancouver. He is tied with Shawn Horcoff
for the team lead in both points and goals versus the Canucks. Marty Reasoner also has two goals.
CANUCKS TO WATCH:
Henrik Sedin has 10 points in seven games against the Oilers this season with a goal and nine assists. He is also a +8 to lead the Canucks in that category as well. His twin brother Daniel has four goals in seven games and 20 in 43 games all-time against Edmonton... Henrik and Daniel are first and second in Canucks scoring this season with 76 and 74 points respectively... Markus Naslund has seven points in seven games with three goals and four assists versus the Oilers. In 68 career games against Edmonton, he has 29 goals and 64 points. This season, the Canucks captain has 25 goals and 55 points in 80 games but only three in his last 20 outings.
Edmonton – Geoff Sanderson (back) is probable. Mathieu Garon (ankle) is doubtful. Ales Hemsky
(knee) is out. Kyle Brodziak (broken finger) is out. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Shawn Horcoff
(shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Vancouver – Brendan Morrison (ACL) is out. Mason Raymond (MCL sprain) is out. Mattias Ohlund (knee) is out. Aaron Miller (shoulder) is out. Lukas Krajicek (shoulder) is out.
Vancouver has racked up the second highest amount of penalty minutes per game so far this season with an average of 18.3 PIM per game... The Canucks have the third best penalty kill unit in the league on home ice with an efficiency rating of 87.4%... Edmonton has a record of 10-5-1 since February 23 which ranks third best in the NHL behind only San Jose and Carolina... The Oilers are 24-14 in one-goal games while Vancouver is 19-22... The Canucks have not lost a game in regulation to the Oilers since December 4, 2006. They are 8-0-3 against the Oilers since that time.
The Other Side
- Canucks dealt a blow - The Canucks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Avalanche scored three goals in a span of 5:19 and went on to defeat Vancouver, 4-2, Tuesday at GM Place. The Canucks now trail Nashville by one point for the final playoff position. ...more
- The Stretch Drive - Tuesday's loss to the Avalanche put the Canucks outside the playoff picture and secures the Avs a place in the post-season. A comeback win from the Preds moves them back into playoff position. ...more
- Catching up with Mike Weaver - For Mike Weaver, there were long days with the family business and then there was the trip that just hit the roof. Get to know some things you didn't know about the 5'9" defenceman. ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Oiler announce annual award winners - The Edmonton Oilers announced their annual team award winners during their game against the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place tonight. Leading the way was forward Ales Hemsky, who garnered two awards including team MVP. ...more
- Oilers sign Bryan Lerg - The Edmonton Oilers have signed centre Bryan Lerg to a two-year NHL entry level contract. ...more
From the Wire
A loss in their last game ensured that the Edmonton Oilers won't be going to the playoffs. In their season finale, they may have a chance to bring the Vancouver Canucks down with them.
On Thursday, the Oilers face the slumping Canucks, who've lost five of six to fall out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
An impressive run over the past five weeks wasn't enough to earn the Oilers a place in the postseason. Edmonton came into Tuesday night's game against Calgary with 13 wins in its last 18 games, but was eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-2 loss.
The Oilers, though, shouldn't lack for motivation Thursday as they take on their struggling Northwest Division rivals. The Canucks' last six games have been against Northwest teams ahead of them in the standings, but Vancouver managed just one win in that stretch and dropped a point behind eighth-place Nashville in the West.
The Canucks and Predators each have two games left and Nashville hosts St. Louis on Thursday. That means a Predators win would force the Canucks (39-31-10) to beat Edmonton to avoid being eliminated.
"We've got to focus on winning that hockey game on Thursday," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Obviously we know we need help, and hopefully we'll get some help, but before that, if we don't win Thursday, it doesn't mean anything."
The Canucks can take solace in knowing how quickly things can change. They led the Predators by a point entering Tuesday's games and were up 2-0 on Colorado in the second period, but allowed four unanswered goals in a 4-2 defeat.
Nashville beat the Blues in overtime to drop Vancouver further back.
"It was a tough one," Canucks forward Matt Pettinger said. "We came out to a pretty good start there and got a two-goal lead. I don't know if it's confidence or just bad decisions but they're a pretty offensive team and when you give them chances they're going to take advantage of it."
It was the third time in the last four games that the Canucks' Roberto Luongo allowed at least four goals. Luongo - who gave up three goals in less than six minutes during the second period - has a 4.93 goals-against average over that span.
"Everybody needs to be better," Vigneault said.
Playing the Oilers (40-35-6) might help. The Canucks are 9-0-3 in their last 12 games versus Edmonton, last losing in regulation in the series on Dec. 4, 2006. Since joining the Canucks before last season, Luongo is 10-1-2 with a 1.90 GAA against the Oilers.
Edmonton will be the first NHL team to close its season. The Oilers had gone 13-4-1 before Tuesday, only to have their unlikely postseason hopes dashed on Owen Nolan's winning goal with 3:44 left in regulation.
"We believed that we could get in and that we had the type of team that could make some noise," Oilers forward Jarret Stoll said. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We battled hard when a lot of things were against us. And we never once used those excuses."