Preview: Canucks at Oilers
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (42-25-10) at
EDMONTON OILERS (36-33-9)
Start Time: 8:10 p.m. MDT
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Canucks Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
|VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 26: Ales Hemsky #83 of the Edmonton Oilers rushes the net as Curtis Sanford #41 of the Vancouver Canucks sprawls to make a save with teammates Alex Edler #23 and Willie Mitchell #8 clearing his crease during their game at General Motors Place on December 26, 2008 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
Oilers Twitter Lineup Updates:
by Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com
|THE ESSENTIALS FOR TONIGHT
The Edmonton Oilers play the fourth game of a six-game homestand tonight against the red-hot Vancouver Canucks.
It's been a difficult past two weeks for the Oilers, having lost six of their last seven games. The stretch has seen the team go from seventh place in the Western Conference down to 11th and four points out of the playoff race with just four games to go.
Three of those four games are at Rexall Place including tonight's clash against the Vancouver Canucks - one of the hottest teams in the NHL over the past two months.
The Canucks have a share of the Northwest Division lead with the Calgary Flames, holding a game in hand on the Flames. Since February 3, they have only lost five times in regulation and as a result skyrocketed up the standings all the way to top spot.
This is the sixth and final meeting of the season between the Oilers and Canucks. Edmonton has won twice while Vancouver has won three times.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Through the latter half of the season, Zack Stortini
has been one of the most consistent Oilers - both offensively and in his energy role. Despite playing on the fourth line, Stortini has five goals in his last 19 games - the same amount as Ales Hemsky
and Shawn Horcoff
combined over the same number of games. Hemsky has three goals in his last 19 while Horcoff has a pair in his last 20... Over the past month, Robert Nilsson has been the best player for the Oilers in terms of plus/minus. Since March 2, Nilsson is +6 in 10 games. The next closest Oilers are Dustin Penner
and Sam Gagner
who are +4 in 14 and 15 games respectively... Ales Kotalik has nine points in his last nine games (5-4-9)
CANUCKS TO WATCH:
Vancouver's two leading scorers are Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Daniel has 31 goals and 80 points while Henrik has 20 goals and 79 points... Ryan Kesler is third on the team in scoring with 56 points and 25 goals - both career highs... Another player enjoying a career season is Alex Burrows. He has 27 goals and 49 points for the Canucks. Burrows' previous high was 12 goals set last season. He has been red hot lately with 11 goals in his last 15 games.
Edmonton—Lubomir Visnovsky (shoulder) is out. Ladislav Smid
(fractured hand) is out. Vancouver—Taylor Pyatt (personal reasons) is out.
Vancouver has had record extended home winning streaks and losing streaks this season. On Thursday against Anaheim they finally had their 11-game streak come to an end. That stretch came directly on the heels of a nine-game home losing streak (0-6-3)... They've been slightly more human on the road over the past two months. Overall, the Canucks are 4-4-1 in their last nine road games though they've won their last three straight away from GM Place... Tonight's game is Vancouver's eighth straight in a different city including Thursday's game at home.
Strudwick nominated for Masterton
- The Edmonton chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has named defenceman Jason Strudwick
as the Edmonton Oilers nominee for the 2009 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. ...more
The Other Side - news from canucks.com
- Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Oilers - The Canucks travel to Edmonton for a quick one-game trip as they try for home-ice advantage in the post-season. The Oilers hope to remain in the playoff picture with just five games remaining in their regular season. ...more
- Kristin Reid - A Time to Focus - The Vancouver Canucks deal with another tragic death in the family as Taylor Pyatt leaves the team to grieve the loss of his fiancee Carly Bragnola and the team travels to Edmonton for a short trip. ...more
- King of the Rink - Ryan Johnson - After so many games, practices, plane rides, and dinners the players have had enough time to get to know each other right? We decided to put their knowledge to the test. How well do they know Ryan Johnson? ...more
Odds and Ends
- THE LINK: Tom & Taylor in the Spotlight - In this newest episode of the link, we take a closer look at the Oilers blue line. Tom Gilbert spends a day with NHL Network cameras and Taylor Chorney talks about his career influences, musical tastes and roommate pet peeves. ...more
- Kevin Lowe clears up Katz comment - Oilers President of Hockey Operations Kevin Lowe spoke to the media on Thursday night after the game to talk about Team Owner Daryl Katz's message sent to Bob Stauffer earlier today that Craig MacTavish "is not going anywhere." ...more
- This or That? with Taylor Chorney - Defenceman Taylor Chorney is only a few days into his first NHL call-up, but even this fall's rookie camp couldn't prepare him for his first Off the Ice interview. Among the topics addressed? Favourite breakfast staples, coastal cities, and newspaper sections. Check out his answers. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
The Vancouver Canucks have clinched a playoff spot despite hopping between different cities the last two weeks. A long stint at home isn't helping the Edmonton Oilers' postseason hopes.
Ending a tough stretch of traveling, the Canucks look to deal the Oilers their fifth straight defeat at Rexall Place when the Northwest Division rivals conclude their season series Saturday night.
Vancouver (42-25-10) lost 6-5 in a shootout with Anaheim on Thursday night, but the single point for getting the game to overtime secured the team a playoff berth after failing to qualify last season.
"We're in and now we're going to focus on seeing whether we can get home-ice advantage," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Vancouver is 20-5-2 after losing its previous eight, putting it in a battle with Calgary for first place in the Northwest. A tough schedule hasn't stopped the Canucks from keeping up in that race.
Saturday's contest, which precedes a three-game homestand, will be Vancouver's eighth straight in a different city. The Canucks faced the Ducks at home after winning four contests during a 12-day, six-game road trip.
Edmonton (36-33-9), meanwhile, has lost the first three games of a six-game homestand. The Oilers are in 11th place in the West, at the bottom of a logjam of five teams vying for the conference's last two playoff spots.
Edmonton, which has lost four in a row at home and six of seven overall, has four games remaining.
"Obviously at this time it comes down to results," Oilers center Sam Gagner said. "We aren't out of anything yet and we have to pick ourselves up for the next game."
Gagner scored Edmonton's only goal in a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday night. The Oilers played tough against one of the league's top teams, but a lack of production offensively was their problem yet again.
Edmonton has scored two goals or fewer in five of its last six games at Rexall Place, where it is 16-16-6 on the season.
Oilers winger Ales Hemsky, who leads the team with 63 points (22 goals, 41 assists), has been held off the scoresheet in each of his last two games. He has a four-game point streak versus Vancouver, posting one goal and four assists.
The Canucks lead the season series with the Oilers 3-2-0, winning the teams' last matchup at Edmonton 4-2 on Jan. 7.
Vancouver's Alex Burrows had a goal and two assists in that contest. He also scored Thursday, as did linemates Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The identical twins have been red-hot over the last nine games, combining for 12 goals and 19 assists.
Vancouver will likely be short-handed at forward for Saturday's contest, with Taylor Pyatt having left the team after his fiancee was killed in a car accident. Pyatt returned to his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, after Carly Bragnalo was killed Thursday in a crash while vacationing in Jamaica.
This is the second tragedy to hit the Canucks in the past year. Defenseman Luc Bourdon died in a motorcycle crash May 29.