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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks @ Oilers

The first true test for the Willie Desjardins era Canucks comes tonight? Wait, isn't Tampa here Saturday? This isn't a typo: The Canucks are going to be facing a desperate Oilers team that will be looking to win as though a playoff spot was riding on the outcome. They could be walking into a trap...

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Time Friday, 6:30 PM
TV Sportsnet Pacific
Season Series (2014/15)
Last Meeting
5-4 Canucks Oct 4/14
The Enemy Copper & Blue Scoring Leaders

H Sedin 2-2-4

Hall 3-1-4

There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal, it's been said. Whoever came up with that one probably didn't count on the Edmonton Oilers. They have just one point to show for their 4 games played so far this season, and that came against the Canucks Saturday when the Canucks came back against the Oilers and won in the shootout. If there's such a thing as a must-win game in October, it's this one. Winless and at home against a hated rival, the anger from the Oilers fanbase could explode exponentially should they lose this one.

And it's not just the two points in the standings that the Oilers could be desperate before. There's still Zack Kassian that looms over this matchup, and despite the fact justice was served, you know, when the NHL suspended the guy, there are some who think the Oilers still need to exact revenge over the incident. A 3 goal lead could see the game escalate into a dangerous situation not just for Kassian but others as the Oilers look to do something to appease the crowd.

So with all due respect to the Tampa Bay Lightning, this game is the one that worries me more, and we'll see just how well Willie Desjardins and his coaching staff have the boys prepared for this challenge. What also remains to be seen is who will start in the crease tonight. Ryan Miller's won his first two starts as a Canuck, but you'd think with Tampa at Rogers Arena tomorrow night, this is a perfect opportunity to get Eddie Lack in for his first start of the year after a stellar preseason.

The keys to a victory tonight are pretty straight forward:

1)- Take the crowd out early. The Oilers goaltending tandem of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth have been bloody awful. Both have a GAA over 5.00, and the Oilers defence has looked downright awful this season. There's nothing to suggest that it's going to change, so kick them when they're down and pop a couple early.

2)- Avoid retaliation penalties. One of the few things that is working for the Oilers right now is their power play. It's chugging along at a respectable 27.3% clip, so the fewer chances the Canucks give them, the better. And take advantage of the Oilers when they're in the box, as the Canucks PP (30.0%) should be able to make some hay against the Oilers PK (68.8%). And try not to allow any shorties this time, boys...

3)- Stick with the process. This is a team that is evolving right now, adjusting to new systems and strategies, and it may be a few more games til we really get to see what they're made of. And with a stretch of games against some league heavyweights coming up, getting points from the teams below them in the standings are crucial, even this early in the season. The West is gonna be a dogfight all year long, so any loss is a missed opportunity that they could regret come April.


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