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AT THE MORNING SKATE
With vengeful Vancouver gearing up on the other side of Rexall Place, the Oilers started their game day with a quick skate Tuesday morning.
Following Monday's injury updates, there were few surprises on the ice.
Ladislav Smid was present on the blue line and, as head coach Tom Renney predicted yesterday, he will play tonight.
"(He) skated yesterday for a few minutes and was fine, and again this morning he said he felt fine," the coach said.
With Smid good to go, Taylor Chorney will not rejoin the line-up and will continue his recovery from a knee injury that has sidelined him for the past 17 games.
Up front, the Oilers will be without Gilbert Brule and Colin Fraser. Brule continues to suffer from an undisclosed illness/injury, while Fraser will miss his third consecutive game due to a foot injury.
"It's sore, it's swollen, it's sort of okay and then it's not. So we're looking at it on a day-to-day basis," Renney explained about Fraser.
To fill the forward gaps, defenceman Jason Strudwick will don his offensive cap and play on the fourth line with Jean-Francois Jacques and Steve MacIntyre.
Edmonton's rash of injuries has made line-up consistency a challenge this season, but Renney is trying to make the most of it.
"I'm trying to develop as much chemistry as I can but also have balance," he said. "We'll put the best team on the ice we possibly can, combinations that will give us success."
Devan Dubnyk will start in net.
CLASHING WITH CANUCKS
Following Saturday's 4-1 win in Vancouver, Oilers coaches and players agree that their opponents will be extra fiery tonight.
"They've got the most points and we've got the least points, so you can figure that out yourself," Magnus Paajarvi said. "They're always going to come out hungry and with more battle level in their whole team, so we really have to match our battle level that we had last game and even increase that to have a chance for the two points here."
"Vancouver's one of the best teams in the league and it gave us some confidence coming into tonight," Kurtis Foster added. "We have four tough games coming up this week and hopefully it gives us some confidence tonight and it will be nice to get a big win in front of the fans."
Renney wants his team to play with confidence and not get caught up in the Canucks' impressive numbers.
"With a year like this, given our circumstances, you look for those little opportunities that you can feel good about and allow yourself to feel like we're going in the right direction, and this is another opportunity against a great team and that's how we'll approach it. The only reason we had success in Vancouver is because of that, quite honestly," he said.
"Beyond that, we've got to make sure that we don't get consumed by their reputation and who and what they are and what they've achieved. This is all about us, having the opportunity to play a really good team and play hard within our structure."
With only four games remaining in the season, Renney continues to focus on victories and accomplishments that aren't necessarily evident on the final scoresheet.
"Perfection belongs in a different domain than hockey, quite honestly, but excellence is something you can pursue every day. And unfortunately for our team, as hard as we've tried, it hasn't always resulted in the win.
"It's our job as coaches to make sure that the game plan is there, that there's growth in our players, that we can look at success maybe in different quantities other than the 'W' at the end of the night."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
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Last 10: Vancouver 8-2-0; Edmonton 1-6-3.
Season Series: The Canucks and the Oilers will conclude a six-game season series on Tuesday night at Rexall Place. Tuesday night's game will complete the second of a home-and-home series between these Northwest Division rivals. Edmonton won the first of the back-to-back games on Saturday night by a margin of 4-1.
Big Story: These two squads may share the same division, but as far as the League standings are concerned, they couldn't be more opposite. Vancouver leads the League with a franchise-best 113 points on the season, but Edmonton has the fewest points with 59. While there are no postseason implications on the line in this final meeting between the Western Canadian squads, the brothers Sedin are both in the running for scoring titles with Daniel leading the overall points race (100) and Henrik leading in assists (73).
Canucks: Vancouver has just three regular-season games left and has lost only two games in its last 14 contests. Despite clinching the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history, the Canucks took Saturday's loss with a grain of salt.
"This is kind of a good thing, I think," Canucks forward Raffi Torres said. "We need to humble ourselves a little bit. Things have been going almost too good lately."
Oilers: The Oilers snapped an 11-game losing streak with Saturday's victory over the Canucks. Edmonton's young guns came out strong in that performance as 20-year-old Jordan Eberle, 24-year-old Linus Omark and 19-year-old Magnus Paajarvi each notched goals, while 24-year-old Devan Dubnyk stopped 40 shots for the win.
"That's why you savor opportunities like this," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "This is the best team in the National Hockey League and we get a chance to put our young guys through the acid test. Our young guys managed up to the task."
Who's Hot: Aside from the consistent offensive play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin of late, their line mate, Alex Burrows, continues to produce as well, scoring the Canucks lone goal on Saturday night. In 68 games played this season Burrows has 47 points (25 goals, 22 assists).
Injury Report: For Vancouver, forwards Mikael Samuelsson (thigh) is expected to return and defenseman Christopher Tanev (upper body) is day-to-day. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is out indefinitely with a concussion. Defensemen Alexander Edler (back) and Andrew Alberts (wrist)are practicing with the team again, but remain on the IR. Forward Manny Malhotra had eye surgery and is out for the season. … Edmonton is without its top-three scorers, who are out for the remainder of the season: Ales Hemsky (shoulder), Sam Gagner (hand) and Taylor Hall (ankle). Also sidelined are forward Shawn Horcoff (foot) and defensemen Ryan Whitney (ankle) and Taylor Chorney (knee).
Stat Pack: Historically, Edmonton has outscored Vancouver 407-314 when playing at Rexall Place.
Puck Drop: "(Saturday was) a confidence builder. It was awesome to beat the Presidents' Trophy winner, and now we get another shot at them." -- Oilers forward Jordan Eberle
-- Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer