Welcome, friends, to a Sunday edition of the GDB as we get ourselves set for the Edmonton Oilers to face off against the Vancouver Canucks for the time this season. It’s a late one tonight so you might want to sneak in a quick nap this afternoon if you can.
Isn’t it kinda weird that tonight’s game is the first time these two teams have met up so far this season? To me, having the Oilers and Canucks not play against each other until midway through December is another strange quirk of this year’s schedule, but also one that could be to our benefit. Vancouver started the season on an absolute heater and actually sat near the top of the Pacific Division during the period when the Oilers were really struggling, so having them meet up now instead of earlier on could actually end up being good news. Over the last month or so, the Canucks found themselves on a horrible run where they won only once in a 13-game stretch (1-10-2), but have recently turned things around with four wins in their last five, including a 5-1 win over Philly last night.
As the Oilers navigate the early days of being without Oscar Klefbom, we’ve seen everyone on the back end get a healthy bump in their minutes and responsibilities and, outside of the third period in Winnipeg, have done a decent enough job of holding down the fort so far. I’m not sure that the team will want their newly revamped top pairing to be playing as many minutes as they have been over the long term, but you have to appreciate how everyone has banded together to get the job done. It hasn’t always been pretty, but getting three of four points on back-to-back nights without two of your top four defencemen is no joke. Now that we know Klefbom will be out until February, the pressure is on to keep the good times rolling and the boys will get another challenge tonight from a group that has the ability to put the puck in the net.
Heading into Vancouver for the first time in the Sedin-less era, the Oilers will have to be sure to pay extra attention to the Canucks’ top six as they produce the bulk of the offence with the rest of the roster’s offence tapering off from there. At this stage of their rebuild, the Canucks have already collected some fine offensive pieces and the Oilers will have to be wary of them, but they’ve also been an adventure in their own zone which is a big reason they’ve fallen out of playoff contention. Can the Oilers take advantage? I imagine the top lines will be going head to head a lot tonight and it could be up to the bottom six to try and grind out the difference. Gord knows we could use some more secondary scoring around here and there’d be no better time for it to happen than tonight against a divisional rival.
If the Oilers can throw up the Hitchcockian lockdown in their own end and limit Vancouver’s skilled guys from getting too many quality chances then they should be alright. If they don’t, then we could see this thing turn into a track meet.
|LAST 10 GAMES||8-1-1||5-3-2|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||50.43||45.21|
Numbers courtesy of Corsica (fancies at 5×5)
Draisaitl – McDavid – Chiasson
Khaira – Nuge – Puljujarvi
Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian
Caggiula – Spooner – Rieder
Nurse – Larsson
Gravel – Jones
Garrison – Benning
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Ken Hitchcock, it’s that he doesn’t like to mess with success so I’m expecting to see the same line combinations that we did on Friday night against the Flyers. With Mikko Koskinen locked in like he is, I’m going to assume that he’ll get another start as he looks to further cement himself as the team’s starter… as if there’s any doubt at this point. At the time of posting, the Oilers haven’t released their lineups yet but I’ll be sure to jump back in and edit when they do, though, as I said, I can’t imagine there will be many changes.
Goldobin – Horvat – Virtanen
Leivo – Pettersson – Boeser
Roussel – Granlund – Eriksson
Schaller – Beagle – Motte
Edler – Tanev
Hutton – Gudbranson
Pouliot – Stecher
Considering all of the hype I’ve seen on Twitter over the last week leading up to this matchup, I’m really looking forward to seeing Elias Pettersson play a full game for the first time. Canucks fans have been banging on a hilarious ‘Pettersson is better than McDavid’ drum over the last little while and I’m very interested to see how they actually match up in their first game against each other. Personally, I think comparing Pettersson to a guy that has back-to-back Art Ross Trophies under his belt is a little bit ridiculous but I’m always down for some good inter-fan shenanigans.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
Two cities can puff their chests about their hockey team pummeling the Flyers in recent days but only one of them will pair that with a two-game win streak. Tonight, the Canucks welcome the Oilers to Vancouver in the NHL’s nightcap game. Oddly enough, this season started the same but ironically different for both teams.
Vancouver wasn’t expected to make waves this season but has surprisingly held their own while staying in an early playoff hunt. Edmonton tanked to begin their season and has turned it around to become a team that also could be in the mix come April.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin are gone so it will take a new duo of Oilers destroyers to put the Edmonton club in their place. Cue Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers dominate the Canucks physically, limiting their ability to get anything going and grind their way into a 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Since the Oilers are playing in Vancouver, we’ll have to hear their broadcast team wank on about how good Elias Pettersson is and if he compares to Connor McDavid. Narrator: He does not.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Milan Lucic scores in his hometown in front of friends and family.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/16/2018 – 10:00 am MT