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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 28.0: Another huge weekend for the Edmonton Oilers (8pm MT, CBC)

Welcome, friends, to what is destined to be a huge weekend here at the Nation as we get ourselves set for the first of back-to-back games against the Vancouver Canucks.

A week ago, the Oilers won two big games against Vegas and Arizona in a back-to-back set, and it set them up nicely atop of the Pacific Division standings for what was a quiet week games-wise. Fast forward until today and the boys have the chance to do it all over again with two straight contests against the Vancouver Canucks in a quick home-and-home series. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a big fan of the old home-and-home and I wish the NHL would schedule more of these among divisional opponents because it’ll likely add a little layer of hatred to what will surely be a very important weekend. With four monstrous points on the line, this is obviously a big opportunity for both clubs and it gives the Oilers a chance to put some space between themselves and the rest of the pack. I’m hoping they use this potential gift as endless motivation to execute the kill and give us all another reason to believe. Besides, I still want to see that killer instinct, ya know?

And if I’m being honest, I’m also hoping that the boys play a little bit angry after the way things went on Wednesday night in Colorado, and that their fiery rage burns so brightly within that the Vancouver Canucks are in for a world of hurt. We know the guys have the ability to bounce back, we’ve seen them do it all season long, and that’s what I’m expecting. But, you know, what else would I say right now? Of course I want the Oilers to win, and it would be ridiculous to expect me to say otherwise. However, I also know that we’ve watched enough Hockey Night in Canada games where our team has let us down and it’s hard to shake the memories despite the fact that this year’s flavour of the Oilers is in first place in the Pacific Division on the final day of November. Instead, to calm my ‘meaningful games in December’ nerves, maybe I’ll just finish off by firing an arrow over the deck and saying that I think the Canucks are fake news and that their hot start was a result of other teams working the rust out. Come at me.

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This evening’s contest marks the second of four meetings between these two clubs — the Oilers won the first round 3-2 back on October 2nd — with the next one coming up tomorrow (12/1), meaning this weekend could have some huge implications on the Pacific Division standings. Last weekend, the Oilers were able to grab four divisional points and I think I can speak for all of us when I say that I’d love to see that happen again, but first, we have to start with game one. Let’s do that hockey.

THE NUMBERS

OILERS CANUCKS
RECORD 16-8-3 12-10-4
WIN/LOSS STREAK L1 L2
LAST 10 GAMES 6-3-1 3-6-1
GOALS FOR 86 85
GOALS AGAINST 77 79
POWER PLAY% 32.0 26.7
PENALTY KILL% 87.5 82.2
AVG. SHOTS/FOR 28.9 32.0
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST 31.4 31.7
TEAM SAVE% .910 .905
CORSI FOR% 48.10 50.84
PDO 1.006 0.995
TEAM SHOOTING% 9.03 7.69
EXPECTED GOALS FOR% 49.48 51.07

Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)

The total has gone OVER in 5 of Edmonton’s last 7 games at home. – From OddsShark.com

LINEUPS…

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Oilers

Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
Chiasson – Gagner – Neal
Khaira – Sheahan – Archibald
Granlund – Haas – P. Russell

Nurse – Bear
Klefbom – Jones
K. Russell – Larsson

Smith

On Thursday afternoon, we learned that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would miss both games against Vancouver as a result of a “procedure” he had to have done on his hand. Obviously, having Nuge out of the lineup is a sizeable blow to the team in all situations and we’ll have to hope that Sam Gagner can keep filling in as best as he can. Sticking with that second line, is anyone else surprised that Alex Chiasson looks like he’ll be ready to go after getting blown up by Ryan Graves on Wednesday?

Canucks

Pearson – Horvat – Boeser
Miller – Pettersson – Goldobin
Leivo – Gaudette – Virtanen
Schaller – Graovac – MacEwan

Edler – Stecher
Hughes – Myers
Benn – Tanev

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Markstrom

Looking at the Canucks’ stats page, you really notice how their offence is spread out, mostly, through the first two lines with Quinn Huges pumping in points from the back end. If the Oilers can continue getting depth scoring and Connor and Leon play the way we know they can, then this game could certainly be ours for the taking.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Canucksarmy:

The Canucks have been infamous in recent years for getting off to a hot start, only to see the wheels fall off the wagon in November. Obviously, it’s too early to know where they’ll finish the season in the standings, but so far, it looks to be more of the same. After setting the NHL on fire through the first month of the season, they have just four wins through the month of November.

They faced some good teams over the course of that stretch, including the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, and the Colorado Avalanche and have managed to salvage four points through five games of what was arguably toughest road trip of their season.

The road trip consisted of six games in 12 nights in Dallas, Nashville, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Edmonton Oilers, who the Canucks will face tomorrow night.

It’s easy to understand why some fans were worried about the trip potentially derailing the Canucks season and undoing all the work they did in the month of October. It’s easily one of the toughest stretches of games they’re going to face all year.

Unfortunately, the team’s schedule-related woes aren’t necessarily going to come to an end along with the month of November. There are still two more stretches of games coming up that could also give the team a fair bit of trouble. The first troublesome trip starts on January 7th, with a jaunt down to Tampa Bay to do battle with the Lightning. Then the Canucks will play the Panthers on the 9th, the Sabres on the 11th, the Wild on the 12th, and the Jets on the 14th. That’s five games in eight nights against some fairly decent competition.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

Game Day Prediction: The Oilers get a big bounce back effort and start their weekend with a big 4-2 win.

Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor and Leon were quiet against the Avalanche on Wednesday night and they bounce back in a big way against Vancouver with two points each.

Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Somewhere, a Canucks fan preps for his first game at Rogers Place and hopes that Elias Pettersson will show the world that he’s as good as Connor McDavid. After Connor scores a highlight-reel goal, proving that there is no one like him, the saddened Canucks fan takes off his Sergio Momesso jersey and leaves it under his seat.

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