Canucks - Oilers Preview: Oh Great, Another Last Place Opponent

OILERS (15-18-4) AT CANUCKS (21-16-0)

GAME TIME: 7:00 PST

TV: CBC

THE ENEMY: The Copper and Blue

SEASON SERIES: 2-1 Canucks

UPDATE (12:38): No Ryan Johnson tonight (foot), Hordichuk draws in, tweets Dan Murphy.

**********************

Ah it was a great time wasn't it? No, I don't mean Christmas, even though that was good too. I mean the Canucks' 4-1 destruction of the Predators a few days ago that stopped the streaking Preds in their tracks, sending us into the holidays with a great feeling inside. Now it's back to business, and a great demon awaits at the door: Playing a LAST PLACE TEAM! Put the stuffing away, grandma!

3 times in the month of December the Canucks have lost to a team lower in the standings after beating a team above them, leaving us with descriptive words for the squad such as: "enigmatic", "playing down to their level", etc. The last disheartening loss came on December 20 against the Blues, 2 days after Vancouver shut down Ovechkin and the Capitals. Alain Vigneault proclaimed that the Blues really aren't that bad of a team just because they were lower in the standings. I guess he was right. The Blues went on to beat the Oilers and Flames to sweep their western road trip. Lovely.

Are the Oilers any different that St. Louis?

More after the jump...

Hard to say. After winning their first 5 games in December they have lost 5 in a row to plummet to 15th in the West, 8 points behind 9th place Vancouver. In their 5-game losing streak they have been outscored 23-10. 4 of the 5 losses were at home. Their last loss was in Minnesota on the 23rd. Then they flew home for Christmas and now have to fly to Vancouver. That's a bit of a stretch, no?

I'd point out which Oilers are rolling, but after scoring only 10 goals in their last 5 it is clear that none of them are. In the skid, Dustin Penner has 1 goal and 2 points. Sam Gagner: 1 goal. Shawn Horcoff: 1 goal and 3 points. Lubomir Visnovsky: 1 goal and 2 points. I believe Sheldon Souray has the most points: 1 goal and 4 points and Robert Nilsson has the most goals: 3.  I can tell you that goalie Jeff Deslauriers put up decent save percentage losses in his last 2 losing starts. I can also tell you that Pat Quinn may be almost ready to pound each player on his team over the head with bottles of Irish Ale. However, he was mostly pleased about the Oilers' 3-1 loss to the Wild.

"That's proof that some nights you can work hard and not get things accomplished that you want to. But if we can continue to get that same sort of effort and if we can eliminate some of those bonehead soft plays, then we have a chance."

COMPARATIVE STATS

GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 5th, Oilers 11th

GOALS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 8th, Oilers 27th

5 ON 5: Canucks 5th, Oilers 19th

POWER PLAY: Canucks 3rd, Oilers 15th

PENALTY KILL: Canucks 19th, Oilers 27th

SHOTS PER GAME: Canucks 11th, Oilers 26th

SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 10th, Oilers 27th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 1st PERIOD: Canucks 7th, Oilers 19th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2 PERIODS: Canucks 7th, Oilers 22nd

FACEOFFS: Canucks 11th, Oilers 29th

The Canucks' dominance in these stat categories means jack if they can't beat the Oilers tonight. It's time for these guys to shed the labels or exorcise the demons of losing games that they "should" win.

More updates as the day goes along. I wonder if Andrew Raycroft will get the start tonight and Roberto Luongo starts against the Flames on Sunday. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

-CBC After Hours Guest: Mike Gillis. You can submit a question to Mr. Gillis here and see if it makes it onto the show.

In the meantime, somebody tell this guy

A. Country music sucks.

B. Country music sucks

 

Predictions! Don't forget your predictions. Man am I ever kicking your butts!

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