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This series between the Oilers and Canucks is going to be spicy

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler Yaremchuk
1 month ago
All eyes will be on the Oilers and Canucks as they begin their Round 2 series tonight in Vancouver.
The temperature has already been cranked up on social media, which has become a tad annoying, if I’m being honest. Tonight, I’m fully expecting things to get spicy on the ice. 
These two teams seemingly already dislike each other, but that should be turned up to a whole different level during this series. Oilers fans had become fully aware of who the rats were on a team like the Los Angeles Kings with their playoff series over the last three seasons. Players like Blake Lizotte, Philip Danault, and Mikey Anderson routinely got under the Oilers’ skin.
Now, we’re going to be introduced to a totally different group of players who will surely turn into villains in the eyes of Oilers fans during this series. To get the lowdown on who on this Canucks team could make “The Rat List” as I like to call it, I asked David Quadrelli of Canucks Army.
I personally think Dakota Joshua will drive the Oilers nuts in this series, but Quadrelli had some other names in mind.
“Connor Garland is a pest to play against and the fact that those guys are on the same line has a lot to do with it but I think Dakota Joshua is a good pick. Maybe JT Miller as well, he’s dominant at both ends and he has been all season long and he has been in the playoffs as well.”
Miller is going to play a massive role in this series, both as a disturber and as an effective two-way centreman. He will likely be the guy who Canucks Head Coach Rick Tocchet throws over the boards against Connor McDavid. 
In the Nashville series, the two opponents that Miller played the most against were Ryan O’Reilly and Filip Forsberg. In nearly 50 5v5 minutes against those two, Miller only allowed the Predators’ top line to score once. That’s some nice defensive work.
Now, the good news for the Oilers is that the Canucks didn’t score a single 5v5 goal when Miller was on the ice against the Predators top line. Miller and his line torched the Oilers in the regular season with the Canucks forward posting seven points in four games. If he is more focused on shutting down McDavid and not scoring, then I think that’s a win for the Oilers.
No matter who is trying to shut him down, I fully believe McDavid will always find a way to produce some amount of offence. If Miller is fully focused on the defensive side of things and not on producing, then I’m not sure if the Canucks have the depth to out-score the Oilers at 5v5.
Special teams are a totally different conversation. Even if the Miller vs McDavid matchup ends up being a wash at 5v5, I like the Oilers’ chances. 
It’s partially because Leon Draisaitl is playing on a different line, and he is fully in ‘Playoff Leon’ mode. His on-ice numbers at 5v5 aren’t pretty, but they were tanked pretty hard by game four of the series vs the Kings. He looked great in round one and I don’t think that’s going to change.
Also, the Oilers’ powerplay is not showing any signs of slowing down. They were a remarkable 45% in the first round against the Kings and sure, Canucks fans might be quick to point out that the Canucks PK was very good in the first round but let’s not forget, the Kings had the third-best PK in the entire league during the regular season and the Oilers still torched them.
The Canucks looked good on the penalty kill in round one but shutting down Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg is not the same as shutting down Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. No disrespect to the Predators but the Oilers’ powerplay has been humming at 45.8% over their last two playoff runs. They are not the same.
There are plenty of reasons why almost all the experts are picking the Oilers to win this series. The team holds the edge in many key battlegrounds. Health, 5v5 play, special teams, and goaltending all favour the Oilers.
Really, the only thing that can stop the Oilers from moving past the Canucks is themselves. Tonight, we’ll get our first look at whether or not the Oilers can put their foot down on a lesser opponent.

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