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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Oilers

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After a pretty positive opening night spoiling the Flames and their surreal redneck techno dance party (their pregame ceremonies need some work, eh?), it's the Canucks turn to open at home against the Oilers, who themselves got slapped around on their opener by the Flames the next night. Time to kill this trend dead.

The Miller era begins. God help us all...
The Miller era begins. God help us all...
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Time Saturday, 7:00 PM
TV CBC
Season Series (2014/15)
0-0-0
Last Meeting
3-2 Canucks Oct 4/14
The Enemy Copper & Blue Scoring Leaders

H Sedin 1-1-2

Purcell 1-0-1

Small sample size aside, there were a lot of positives in that game Wednesday night. Three of the biggest question marks for this team on the offence side of things were answered against the Flames: a) is this Sedins/Vrbata line going to click; b) is Alex Burrows going to show last year was the beginning of the end and that he can still be a viable offensive threat; and c) is Zack Kassian going to contribute more than he did last year. With the top line providing 2 of Vancouver's 4 goals, the other two coming from the aforementioned Burrows and Kassian, the Canucks looked very much like the kind of team they'll need to stay competitive in the dogfight that is the Western Conference: one that can roll 4 lines with confidence.

What they need to be wary of is something that has plagued Canucks teams of the past: letting teams get the jump on them early and not matching the effort from the moment the puck drops. Hell, even this Edmonton team has put a game out of reach of the Canucks before the first period was done. Coming out strong and building on the strong play they showed against the Flames is key to getting 2 crucial divisional points tonight. The Oilers were the worst team in the West last year, yet still managed 2 wins against the Canucks. These are the games that should they not win, they could be looking back at in April and regretting if they're on the outside looking in come playoff time.

The Oilers are in the midst of their anniversary celebration, paying homage to the 1984 Cup winning team that shares a name with the current incarnation of the team, but nothing more. Their perpetual failure has given them the opportunity to improve, but unlike the Penguins, who tanked turned a few years of miserable failure into Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and a Stanley Cup in 2009, the Oilers simply haven't improved. They've drafted some players that should be legitimate superstars in this league, but such is the plague that clings to this team, that guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may never reach their true potential without leaving the 'City Of Champions'. Yes, they've got these guys and a couple others that can score goals at will if you give them an inch, but the defence behind them is suspect, and for all the talk of Ben Scrivens giving the Oilers some stability in net, it speaks volumes that Viktor Fasth is getting the start tonight. The problem in Edmonton is the people behind the scenes. The incompetence and downright mind-boggling failures by this team's management ALMOST makes me feel sorry for their fans. Should this team not show marked improvement in this campaign, the club would do well to clean house top to bottom and bring in people who've never had any affiliation with the Oilers past. They may have been one of the best teams to ever play the game in the 80's and early 90's, but the people who were so key in bringing glory to Edmonton then bring it nothing but shame year after miserable year.

Anyway, let's get back to focusing on the matchup, shall we? While we liked a lot of what we saw Wednesday night, there were some things that are going to need to be fixed. Alex Edler and Luca Sbisa cannot play on the same pairing. Edler's overall game was promising that he could be snapping out of the funk that's plagued him the last couple years, but he still makes the kind of mistakes that end up in the back of the Canucks net. Sbisa on the other hand just makes me cringe. There's a lot of raw potential in this kid, but he's such a weak link at the moment, that it worries me the Oilers will try to exploit it. Despite losing to the Flames, they rattled off 40 shots the other night, and while Ryan Miller's used to that kind of heavy workload after his years in Buffalo, the less rubber he sees, the better.

Another issue that needs to be addressed tonight is the Canucks' performance in the faceoff circle. They lost 61% of the draws against the Flames, somewhat shocking given that the center position is supposed to be an area that this team shouldn't worry about as much. You can bet this fact wasn't lost on Coach Willie Desjardins as they prepare for tonight's game.

The Oilers lines tonight should look like this:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oilers?src=hash">#Oilers</a> lineup tonight vs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash">#Canucks</a>&#10;&#10;Hall - RNH - Eberle&#10;Pouliot - Draisaitl - Yakupov&#10;Perron - Arco - Purcell&#10;Hendricks - Gordon - Joensuu</p>&mdash; Shane Sander (@SanderTHW) <a href="https://twitter.com/SanderTHW/status/520972442538631168">October 11, 2014</a></blockquote>
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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Oilers?src=hash">#Oilers</a> defense pairings tonight vs <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash">#Canucks</a>. Nikitin will debut. Nurse healthy scratch.&#10;&#10;Nikitin - Fayne&#10;Klefbom - Schultz&#10;Ference - Petry</p>&mdash; Shane Sander (@SanderTHW) <a href="https://twitter.com/SanderTHW/status/520973190789885952">October 11, 2014</a></blockquote>
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The Canucks will go with the same 4 lines from Wednesday night, though it looks like they're adjusting the D, as they have Dan Hamhuis slotted in with Sbisa, Edler with Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa with Ryan Stanton.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

When you think of countries with a strong metal heritage, Italy doesn't exactly jump out at you. Apart from the drunken Venomish rumblings of Bulldozer and a plethora of power metal bands like Rhapsody and the criminally underrated Labyrinth, there's not many bands that come to mind. Formed in 2011, Warstorm are looking to change that. They just released a new disk called Goatspel, but this is off their debut demo 'Let The Warstorm Begin'.