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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

GDB Game Notes: Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers

After going 3-2 on their important five-game road trip through the Western Conference, the Oilers are back home, hosting the Vancouver Canucks in the first leg of a home-and-home series.

1. This will be the first meeting between the Oilers and Canucks since Edmonton picked up a 3-2 win over Vancouver on opening night back in early October. Both the Oilers and Canucks got off to strong starts and sat towards the top of the Pacific Division through the first month of the season. While the Oilers have maintained their spot at the top of the Pacific through November, the Canucks have trailed off as of late. The Canucks are 3-6-2 in November so far and currently sit in a tie with Calgary and Vegas for third in the division with San Jose just one point behind them in the standings.

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2. The Canucks are at the tail end of a six-game road trip much like the Oilers. Vancouver is 2-3 so far on their trip, but they’ve suffered some ugly losses so far. They kicked things off with a lopsided 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, and, most recently, they allowed a whopping six goals in the third period in an 8-6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Those two aforementioned losses represented two of the five times this season the Canucks have allowed five or more goals against in a game.

3. One thing I’ve spoken about a lot when it comes to this year’s Oilers has been resilience after ugly losses. Thursday night’s loss in Colorado was one to forget. After the majority of Edmonton’s bad losses this season, the team has bounced back with a big win shortly after. On the flip side, the Canucks also have a couple instances in which they’ve had big responses after losses. After starting the season 0-2 with a 3-0 loss to the Flames, the Canucks hammered L.A. 8-2 for their first win of the season. After their 6-1 loss to Dallas on this road trip, the Canucks came back with a 6-3 win over Nashville immediately after. Vancouver’s loss to the Penguins was likely their worst of the season. It’ll be interesting to see two frustrated teams coming off of big losses going at it.

4. The difference between the Oilers and Canucks this season is that the former hasn’t allowed themselves to get into a deep funk while the latter has. Edmonton has yet to lose more than two games in a row this season while the Canucks had a four- and three-game losing streak in the span of two weeks in November. That’s Edmonton’s resilience coming into play. Not having big losing skids is key to having a successful season. Everyone is going to have bad games, but stopping it from becoming something more is what separates contenders from pretenders.

5. Another key part of Edmonton’s success early on has been their dominant play at home. They’re 7-2-2 thus far at home, which bodes well as they have a nice home stretch coming up. They’re at home tonight, then they’ll be in Vancouver for the second leg of the back-to-back, and then they’ll play seven of their next 11 games heading into Christmas in Edmonton. This is a great chance to create a big lead at the top of the division heading into the break.

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6. Vancouver is another team vying for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, so beating them in head-to-head matchups is important. In six games against the Pacific, the Canucks are 3-2-1, though two of those three wins came against the basement-dwelling Los Angeles Kings.

7. Here is Gregor’s latest update on the scoring of the Oilers last season compared to this year’s Oilers and the Canucks.

TEAM TOP-5 FORWARDS REST OF FORWARDS DEFENCE
2018/19 51 (112) 12 (34) 8 (43)
EDMONTON 61 (146) 15 (34) 8 (50)
VANCOUVER 48 (102) 25 (60) 9 (53)

8. Gregor added that Edmonton’s forwards have 180 points to 162 for Vancouver. Edmonton’s top-five forwards have the most points in the NHL, and with the depth scoring starting to emerge, 13 goals in 13 games, the Oilers could be on to something. However, the injury to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, although it doesn’t seem like it will be long-term, could create a large hole if he remains sidelined for too long.

9. I mentioned earlier that the Canucks are 3-6-2 in November after a strong start to the season in October. What happened? Early on, Vancouver was one of the most difficult teams in the league to score on, but during their cold stretch this month, they’ve been allowing an average of 3.5 goals-per-game. The team has struggled with depth injuries as of late, as Brandon Sutter, Micheal Ferland, and Jay Beagle are currently out of the lineup. Those are some of Vancouver’s key defensive and penalty-killing forwards. Without them, the team is a lot easier to play against.

10. General manager Jim Benning went all-in this off-season in order to open up his team’s contention window. The Canucks added Tyler Myers and Micheal Ferland and they traded a first-round pick to acquire J.T. Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Miller acquisition looks like a savvy one, as he’s slotted in alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser and has 26 points in 26 games. The other ones? The jury is still out. Myers is logging 21 minutes per game but has just four points and Ferland has been injured for a good chunk of the season.

11. If the Canucks miss the playoffs this season it’ll be considered a colossal failure. They gave out quite a bit of cash in free agency as they’ll be paying $10 million annually to Ferland and Myers for the next four seasons. They also gave up their first-round pick to acquire Miller, signalling that the team was ready to move out of a rebuilding phase and into a contention phase.

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12. The goal for Vancouver is to make some noise before Elias Pettersson’s entry-level deal expires. Last season’s Calder Trophy winner is building on his great rookie season this year, as he leads the team with 31 points through 26 games. Given the way contracts for young stars are trending, Pettersson will easily be able to warrant a deal worth $10 million annually after his entry-level deal expires. I would look at Mitch Marner’s deal in Toronto as a comparable.

THE BLACKOUT COLLECTION

We’ve upgraded every aspect of this year’s gear and we cannot wait for you guys to check it out! The 2019 Blackout collection is now available only at NationGear.ca.