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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks at Oilers

Just two games remaining in the preseason for the Vancouver Canucks, a home & home series against the Edmonton Oilers. One last chance for those on the bubble to show that they deserve a shot, and with the Sedins sitting out tonight's match, an awesome opportunity to step up and make the coaches and GM notice.

Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Just two games remaining in the preseason for the Vancouver Canucks, a home & home series against the Edmonton Oilers. One last chance for those on the bubble to show that they deserve a shot

Time Thursday, 6:00 PM
TV Sportsnet 360
Season Series (2013/14)
Last Meeting
5-2 Oilers Apr 12/14
The Enemy Copper & Blue Scoring Leaders Vey 2-3-5
Nugent-Hopkins 2-2-4

The Canucks look to shake off an uneven performance against the Arizona Coyotes Monday night as they play the first of 5 meetings this month against the Edmonton Oilers. Both teams have made a lot of changes in the off-season, and while the state of flux the Canucks find themselves in is a somewhat new thing, the Oilers and their fans likely don't even blink at this type of thing anymore. It's got to be what, year 23 of the rebuild?

While some feel that 'alarm bells' should be sounding after the game against Arizona the other night, the only thing alarming to me was just how awful a game Luca Sbisa had for the Canucks. He appeared at times to be playing last year's defensive systems (ie. standing around and watching the play happen, guarding the position instead of taking the man) in addition to deflecting one by Ryan Miller. It certainly wasn't an encouraging sign, and seemed to really give credence to what some say about Sbisa: the skills are there, the hockey smarts are somewhat lacking. With Frank Corrado dinged up though, it's likely we'll see more of him (though Corrado has underwhelmed this preseason as well) in a bottom pairing that will likely see sheltered minutes.

Goaltending hasn't been the issue for the Canucks so far this preseason, and with Ryan Miller looking to begin a career redemption in Vancouver and Eddie Lack off to a stellar start, it's at least encouraging to know as the team settles into this new defensive system that coach Willie Desjardins is implementing, they'll have the kind of goaltending that will give them a chance to win. The other issues: the power play and goal scoring general? Well the power play seems to be going alright, if you think a power play running at 50% is okay. Call me strange, but I could get behind something like that. The Sedins and Radim Vrbata are showing signs of really starting to gel, and it's just a matter of getting the other 9 clicking (though the production from the youngsters thus far is a pleasant surprise), along with an increase in offensive production from the back end.

Tonight, the focus will be on the line of Linden Vey, Nick Bonino and Alex Burrows. Vey has been likely the biggest surprise of the preseason for the Canucks, leading them in scoring and showing a very solid two-way game. Bonino's been alright, displaying some nice hands in a couple assists against the Sharks, and perhaps these two can help kickstart Burrows as he looks to get back on track after a disastrous season last year. Shawn Matthias will be on a line with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. Vey has already switched his number, from 44 to 7, because he felt it was less flashy, good Saskatchewan kid that he is. It should be noted I did see at least one person bitching that he shouldn't use that number because of Brendan Morrison, thus reminding me why I hate a good chunk of our fan base so very, very much. Just stop.

There's been a lot of changes in Edmonton: new faces, youngsters looking to make an impact, and better goaltending than they've had in ages. There's a glimmer of hope for Oilers fans, but they're still a long way from being anything than an also-ran. The Oilers are coming off a 3-2 win over the Coyotes last night, and they could be without David Perron, who left the game in the 3rd period with a rib injury. With Ben Scrivens in the crease for the win last night, who the Canucks will face tonight is uncertain, as the Oilers still have 4 goalies on their roster. I would imagine we see Viktor Fasth, though they could also go with Richard Bachmann.

Meanwhile, here's the skaters who won't be in for the Oilers tonight:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p><a href="">#Oilers</a> early group on ice this morning (not playing tonight): Eberle, Arcobello, Gordon, Khaira, Gazdic, Musil, Petry, Ference, Schultz</p>&mdash; Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) <a href="">October 2, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Judas Priest are hitting the road, touring for their new 'Redeemer of Souls' album. I haven't had a chance to listen to the album yet, but this definitely sounds like classic-era Priest.