GD23: Oilers @ Canucks - Attack
Going down 3-0 is never a strategy for success but the Edmonton Oilers managed to claw back and take a 4-3 win against a Canucks team that can only be described as fragile. Edmonton pressured and attacked relentlessly through 2 periods, hit a ton of posts and absolutely man-handled Vancouver for two periods.
Right now the Oilers are buzzing and sit third in the league as well as second in their own division. Edmonton has the best record in the league in the last 10 going 8-2-0. Fun fact, the Oilers are one of three teams that have not lost a game in OT this season. Edmonton has only played one game this season that went to OT. The Oilers have been a strong team at 5 on 5 and regulation this season.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
- Ethan Bear may be ready to go tonight and Tippett seemed to like the Jones and Bouchard pairing so my hope is Russell is the odd man out tonight. It looks like Smith will start again.
CANUCKS LINE COMBINATIONS
4 GAME THOUGHTS
1.) DANGER - FRAGILE - If the Canucks were a package that is what they would be labelled. Via monkeypuck.com, the Canucks currently have a 10.9% chance to make the playoffs, with only the Senators and Red Wings posting a lower total. This team would need to go on an incredible run to find themselves back in the mix. Edmonton needs to attack like they did in the 2nd and 3rd periods right off the bat, get up a goal early and put the psychological pressure on the Nucks.
2.) More From The Blue - One area of depth scoring that has surprised this season has been blue line scoring, led by Darnell Nurse, Tyson Barrie, and Evan Bouchard, however the Oilers have not had a goal from the blueline in their last 5 games. Tonight I want to see more shots targeted at Holtby from the defense.
3.) 38 is the New 28 - Last season those who praised Smith talked about his battling, his puck handling, and veteran calmness. What the numbers said was he was one of the worst goalies in the league at 5 on 5, as he was the year before in Calgary. This season Smith is still being discussed the same way but the numbers back it up. He sits 10th out of the 48 goalies who have played at least 250 minutes at 5 on 5 with a 0.938SV%. Smith has been great and helped take the load off of Koskinen. The Oilers will be a tough team to beat if he played like he did for 2/3 of last game and not the first third.
4.) No Looking Ahead - Hockey fans are licking their chops for the three game home stand Edmonton is about to start against Toronto which will likely prove who is the top dog in the North Division. The Oilers need to focus on the game at hand tonight and then prepare mentally tomorrow for this huge home stand.
THE OILERS WIN IF...
They challenge Holtby early and send the Nucks into a tailspin early.
THE CANUCKS WIN IF...
They weather the offensive storm early and we get one of our few looks at the Jekyll and Hyde Mike Smith.