How can you not be jacked up on a Saturday when the Edmonton Oilers are set to play the Vancouver Canucks in a Hockey Night in Canada rematch of their season opener? Will we be able to build upon our hot start? Will the Canucks get their revenge? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s game day.
A couple of weeks ago in the season opener, the Oilers beat the Canucks in overtime after giving up two goals in the third period and it was the kind of finish that was frustrating to watch even though they ended up with the win. It was one of those nights when Edmonton allowed their opponent to get up off the mat instead of throwing the death blow in to put the game out of reach, leaving their opponents pointless and feeling generally bad about themselves. Mistakes were made and colourful language likely echoed through many Edmonton households, but ultimately, the bullet was dodged in the end and two points were thrown on the pile. But If the Oilers are going to take the next step on the stairway to excellence, they’re going to have to find ways to not only beat the teams that they should but win these games in style.
After playing reasonably well but still dropping Wednesday’s contest to the Flyers anyway, I’ll be looking for the Oilers to hit the ice with energy and more attention to detail as they look to get back in the win column. Against Philly, the boys lacked polish on their puck choices and were too often burned by costly mistakes in their own zone with the added issue that they couldn’t get the timely saves needed to cover them up, which is a sizeable problem that doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out. And even though I like to say that the Canucks are a team that the boys should beat, they have plenty of players that can burn us if the Oilers play too loose again. If we’re going to get back to racking up wins, the Oilers will need to do a much better job of tightening up in their own end while also making smart choices with the puck on the attack.
Let’s see what the numbers say…
|LAST 10 GAMES||5-1-0||3-4-1|
|EXPECTED GOALS FOR%||51.55||41.75|
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (fancies at 5×5)
Hyman – McDavid – Puljujarvi
RNH – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – Ryan – Kassian
Benson – Shore – Turris
Nurse – Bouchard
Keith – Ceci
Koekkoek – Barrie
After dropping Wednesday’s game, I wondered whether Dave Tippett would make any changes to his lineup or line combos, but it looks like everything will be staying mostly the same apart from Tyler Benson drawing in on the fourth line. Frankly, I don’t think Perlini has done enough to merit having his name written in the lineup in ink, and I’d love to see what Benson does with his second opportunity.
Pearson – Horvat – Garland
Podkolzin – Miller – Boeser
Höglander – Pettersson – Bailey
Highmore – Lammikko – Chiasson
OEL – Myers
Hughes – Schenn
Hunt – Burroughs
The Canucks are a weird team to me because there are nights when they can look dreadful and others when they look like world-beaters with all the firepower in the world. So when it comes to round two of the season series, the Oilers will need to be mindful of their choices with the puck as to not give Vancouver’s skilled players more opportunities than they’ll already be creating for themselves.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The Canucks’ early-season struggles cannot be blamed entirely on injuries. But it has undoubtedly been a factor, and it will inevitably continue to be. And although the team seemed to improve its depth in the offseason, what does it say that the impact of injuries is already being felt? Especially with the knowledge that, if anything, it’s only going to get worse from here as travel increases, wear-and-tear accumulates, and the intensity of the season ramps up.
At this point, there’s not much that can be done, aside from increasing the amount of rest players get between games, and perhaps even experimenting with load management. Either way, it’s clear that injury and illness will once again be something that the Canucks battle against as they try to right the 2021/22 ship.
What else is new?
Game Day Prediction: McDavid and Draisaitl shine, leaving all of Canada to enjoy a big 4-2 Oilers win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Connor McDavid will not be stopped as he puts up a seventh straight multi-point game.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Kailer Yamamoto gets his first goal of the season on his third point-blank chance of the night.
You know we were going to do it. Grab your Kept Nuge Forever hoodie right here.