The Edmonton Oilers will try to win back-to-back games tonight, while doing something they’ve failed to accomplish in three previous bouts against the Vancouver Canucks – win!
It’s a hurdle faced by many NHL clubs these days, as the surging Canucks, 12-0-2 in their last 14 games, play host to the Oilers on the wet coast this evening.
The Oil are fresh off an uninspired 2-1 victory over the visiting New York Islanders last night at Rexall Place. Outshot throughout most of the second half of the contest, Edmonton back-up netminder, Devan Dubnyk, once again spelled off starter Nikolai Khabibulin in fine fashion.
Edmonton continues to underachieve in both the face-off dot and playing with any sort of physicality; outside of Dustin Penner, Steve MacIntyre and Dubnyk, the latter of which toils in goal, opponents continue to knock Edmonton’s small forwards off the puck with relative ease.
On the face-off dot alone, Vancouver boasts a 56.2% vs. Edmonton’s 44.4% success ratio. The stat speaks volumes to why, in part, the Oilers have one of the NHL’s weakest special teams units (PP = 14.6%; PK = 75%). Lose a couple of face-offs in the offensive zone and kiss a minute-plus of your power play goodbye! Same can be said about the PK. Lose more face-offs than your opponent in the defensive zone with a man in the penalty box, and ultimately your GAA is going to be impacted.
Edmonton’s PK is showing signs of life, however, after shutting down the Islander’s seven man-advantage attempts (scored a shorty as well) during last night’s game, but again the NYI are no Vancouver!
Jordan Eberle, Ryan Whitney and Jim Vandermeer, who re-injured his ankle during the Thursday’s game, will all be watching from the press box tonight. Eberle, who sustained a knee injury vs. the Flames last week, also underwent an emergency appendectomy Wednesday. He was seemingly, no worse for wear, after being released from the hospital less than 24 hours later. Eberle watched Thursday’s game from the press box.
Vancouver is undefeated against Edmonton this season, scoring 4-3 and 2-1 road victories against the Oil, and a 3-2 win at home following Christmas. It will be interesting to see if Head Coach Tom Renney includes MacIntyre is his starting lineup tonight, providing back-to-back ice time to the club’s pugilist.
In the meantime Oiler fans, keep your chins up…sticks down.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.