GD22: Oilers @ Canucks - Using Momentum Smartly
Many people have heard the saying, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It's a cautionary quote that this Oilers team should be familiar with.
The first two weeks of the season were rough for the Edmonton Oilers. Between the new faces, injuries, and lack of a real training camp or exhibition games, Edmonton looked a step back in most games, scattered, and less eloquently put, an absolute wreck. In the first 14 games of the season Edmonton went 3-5, were 24th in GF%, allowed the 3rd most GA at 5 on 5, and 25th in SV%.
The above mentioned details; new faces, injuries, lack of a training camp cannot be used as excuses as it is something that every other team in the league was faced with. Edmonton not coming out as prepared as other teams is directly on them... as is how they have rebounded.
Since that time Edmonton has gone 9-3, are 6th in GF%, allowed the 11th most GA at 5 on 5, and 14th in SV%. The Oilers are not a perfect team but they are performing as many, including myself expected them to prior to the beginning of the season; an offensively gifted team that would need to rely on team defense and hope for league average goaltending. That is exactly what they have done over this long stretch.
The challenge moving forward will be for the Edmonton Oilers to remember the team defense aspect of their game. When this team plays smart in their own end the chances come naturally the other way but when they start skating like they are the best team in the league the goals against start piling up. Edmonton is a good yet flawed team that has the ability to beat any team in the NHL on any given night and certainly in their own division.
Tonight Edmonton will face a Canucks team that reminds me greatly of the Oilers of just a couple years ago. The Oilers had a great playoff run in 16/17 due in large part to a couple elite players (McDavid and Draisaitl) and an outstanding goalie performance from Cam Talbot. Everyone expected that to be the beginning of a long stretch of playoff hockey but it was not the case. The Oilers missed the playoffs in the next two seasons before returning (technically) last season.
Enter the Canucks who have played at least two games more than any other team in the North Division this season but sit in 6th place. While they have scored 18 more goals than Ottawa they have only allowed 2 fewer. The Canucks cannot outscore their problems and are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games.
There are no easy opponents this season and while this is a game the Oilers should win, if they stray from what has made them successful Vancouver could easily run up the score.
OILERS LINE COMBINATION
- Guessing on lineup right now. Lagesson and Bear are close to returning and may be available for tonight. Koekkoek is done for the season with a broken collarbone.
CANUCKS LINE COMBINATION
1.) Bully Boeser - With his hat trick, Connor McDavid now sits second in the league in goals and tied with Brock Boeser. The young right winger for the Canucks has always had an eye for the net but he may crack 30 for the first time in his career in a shortened season. Edmonton needs to block his shooting lanes because even the slightest amount of room is deadly for him.
2.) PP Resurgence - The Oilers powerplay had become stagnant as of late but came on in a big way against the Flames going 3/5 in their last game. Edmonton has been a much stronger EV team but they should be able to capitalize on their PP chances when presented.
3.) Sophomore Slump - Quinn Hughes is an excellent young player and according to the stat sheet he is having a good season with 21 points in 22 games. Hughes has also been on the ice for more EV goals against than any player in the league by a large margin. Hughes has been on the ice for 27 goals against with Mike Reilly of the Sens in second, on for 21 goals against. The next most by a Canuck is Edler with 19. Hughes is a huge threat when he is on the ice but defensively he can be exploited.
4.) Home and Away - While Vancouver is a wreck on the road going 3-8-0 they have been respectable at home with a 5-4-2 record. Clearly Vancouver has been able to take advantage of the matchups they want at home. Tippett should look to get creative and sneak McDavid onto the fourth line a few times to make things tougher on the Nucks.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They use the momentum from their 7-1 victory smartly and push Vancouver around early.
THE CANUCKS WIN IF...
Edmonton walks in expecting another big lead.