After tonight’s game in Vancouver, the Edmonton Oilers only have nine games in their next 36 days. Fatigue should not be an issue for the Oilers after Christmas until the return from the All-Star break, and that’s why whichever players are playing well tonight, I’d run them a lot.
This is a big game against a divisional rival with an opportunity to jump six points up on the Canucks before Christmas.
Some games are more meaningful than others, and tonight is one of them. A quick look at the Pacific Division and Wild Card race and it’s clear two points for the Oilers, or Canucks, will be huge tonight.
The Oilers are four points up on Vancouver, but the Canucks have two games in hand. All top-five teams in the Pacific are playing tonight.
Calgary is in Minnesota.
Arizona battle Nashville.
Vegas hosts Colorado.
With only six points separating the top Pacific teams (and add Nashville and Minnesota into the wild card race), the playoff race is officially on. The Oilers won’t win every meaningful game of course, but it will be such a boost to their confidence and their overall enjoyment of the Christmas break if they can win tonight. The mental side of sports is so important, and it is amazing how quickly a positive outcome, individually, or for a team, can thrust players or teams on a good streak.
The Oilers haven’t won consecutive games since they went into Vegas and Arizona on November 23rd and 24th and won both games. Since then they have struggled to gain consistent momentum, and that’s why a victory against a division foe is so important.
Riley Sheahan’s line was excellent on Saturday against the Canadiens. Joakim Nygard was excellent on the forecheck, and Archibald and Sheahan each scored a goal. They have five points in the past two games, and continued production, though not at that rate of course, will be welcomed. The Oilers’ depth forwards have produced decent numbers since November 1st.
The Canucks third line has played well as of late as well. Virtanen has 3-2-5 in their past five games while Roussell and Gaudette each have 1-2-3. Virtanen did get some time on Horvat’s line last game so we could see him get a few shifts there. We know Canucks head coach Travis Green likes to matchup Horvat against McDavid, but will he do that with Eriksson on that line consistently?
And don’t be surprised if we see goals in the first period. Vancouver is second in the NHL with 39 first period goals, while the Oilers are tied for third with 38. Edmonton’s problem is they have allowed the most goals, 40, in the first frame, while the Canucks have allowed the eighth fewest at 27. Edmonton has trailed 2-0 far too frequently recently and needs to stop that trend tonight.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mikko Koskinen has a strong game and Oilers win 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is Festivus. There will be a lot of “Airing of Grievances” in the comment sections and on Twitter. If Oilers lose there will be much more.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sheahan has never scored a goal in three consecutive games. He has never scored a goal against Vancouver. He accomplishes both tonight.
IT’S A FESTIVUS MIRACLE…
MONTH OF GIVING…
Thanks to Mike for the great bid on the Grand Villa Casino Party and to Wasif and Nolan for their bids on the tickets. Today is the final day of Month of Giving.
DAY 16: Loge Seats with Dave Lumley
- You and two friends will watch the Oilers/Sharks game on February 6th in Loge Seats courtesy of ServPro Restoration Southside.
- Dinner and drinks are on Lummer
- You will also visit the Oilers Alumni room (never know who you might meet in there).
You can bid by listening to TSN 1260 between 2-6 p.m. today and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260. Proceeds will help the MS Society and Alzheimers Society.
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