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GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Oilers Part 3

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So we meet again! Last time these two squared off, it was the start of a season-high 7 game homestand for #herecometheoilers. The Canucks won to complete a successful home-and-home series. The Oilers, however, then rattled off 4 straight wins, before their most recent defeat at the hands of those pesky Preds. Are the Oilers done being the butt of Twitter jokes and becoming a legitimate threat? Let's find out...sans Alex Burrows!

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor

Canucks vs Oilers coverage

Time Thursday, 7:00 PST
TV CBC
Season Series 2-0
Last Meeting
2-0 Canucks 10/17/14
The Enemy Copper and Blue Scoring Leaders

H. Sedin 4-8-12
D. Sedin 3-9-12

T. Hall 6-3-9

Canucks
CATEGORY
Oilers
7-3-0 SEASON RECORD 4-5-1
14 Points 9
2nd Conference Position 13th
Won 3
Streak Lost 1
3.30 (5th)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.70 (15th)
2.90 (20th)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
3.50 (27th)
23.7 (6th) Power Play % 16.1 (20th)
87.2 (5th) Penalty Kill % 79.3 (21st)
45.5 (29th) Faceoff Win % 51.4 (9th)
11.9 (18th) PIM / GP 8.2 (4th)
32.5 (4th) Shots For / GP 27.4 (27th)
29.1 (14th) Shots Against / GP 30.7 (19th)
Canucks
Analytics
Oilers
53.6 (6th) 5v5 Close Corsi For % 48.9 (20th)
53.7 (8th) 5v5 Close Fenwick For % 47.4 (23rd)
2.61 (7th) 5v5 Goals For / 60 2.12 (18th)
3.00 (24th)
5v5 Goals Against / 60 3.25 (27th)
-3 (22nd)
5v5 Goal +/-
-9 (27th)
50.53 (13th) 5v5 OZS % 49.48 (17th)
8.3 (13th) 5v5 Shooting % 7.94 (15th)
89.96 (24th) 5v5 Save % 89.68 (25th)
98.3 (24th) PDO 97.6 (26th)

H. Sedin +8.72

D. Sedin +8.62

5v5 Corsi Rel % Leaders

David Perron +5.93

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins +5.76

J. Hansen -10.04

S. Matthias -9.52

5v5 Corsi Rel % Anchors

N. Yakupov -11.13

M. Arcobello -8.76

N. Bonino 4.00

C. Higgins 3.14

5v5 Points / 60 Leaders

J. Eberle 2.65

B. Pouliot 2.32

There's an elephant in the room. Let's get it out:

Basically here's how I see it. That video shows the decisive and conclusive angle in full. I accept the Department of Player Safety explanation. I think it makes sense. Burrows was late on the hit...you can't take two additional strides to finish the hit. As a hockey player and coach, I know that's a no no and always has been. Burrows did lean into Emelin, leading with his shoulder and making clear contact with his head. Whether Emelin was off-balance or unaware is pretty much irrelevant. The result of Burrows leaning, after he took two strides to get there, caused the dangerous contact.

In summary, I agree with the logic behind the suspension and I agree that it is a dangerous hit that served no hockey purpose and should be scrutinized.

What I do not agree with is the severity of the punishment. Not because 3 games is intrinsically too many. I don't know what the appropriate suspension should be. My issue is that it is inconsistent with similar plays that have not received the same suspension. I'm no conspiracy theorist. I think it's silly to postulate that the NHL has a vendetta out against the Canucks, or even Burrows (in spite of his past transgressions with officials). But I do think that the changing guard of the DoPS over the past 5-10 years, somewhat of a revolving door, leads to these patent inconsistencies.

I had this hit at 1-2 games. Miss the weekend and move on. Maybe slap a fine on as well. 3 games is significant. This isn't baseball. There are only 82 games. But I guess the new DoPS regime is making a stand on this type of contact. Burrows happened to be one of the early opportunities to do so. So be it. We roll on. Sestito, you're in kid!

Da Hackey Game - Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting

Actually...these two teams aren't penalized often. I anticipate this is going to be a game decided at even strength. While the Canucks have been wielding a big stick as of late on the powerplay, Edmonton simply doesn't take many penalties. So it is going to be up to the top performers at evens, including what's left of the second line in Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins, to set the tone.

So far this season, outside of the second line which has been particularly strong at even strength production, the Canucks have been a below average team in 5v5 production, statistically speaking (Team 5v5 GF -3). However, a lot of this stems from the Dallas and Colorado games, which threw off the small sample size. The good news is that the team as a whole has generally been winning the shot attempt battle. They did an excellent job of taking away time and space and suppressing quality attempts against a quick Canadiens team until late in the game. Where the bottom six struggled early on, they have certainly better hockey as of late. Brad Richardson in particular has been a hot hand. But Matthias, Dorsett and Kassian have all played fairly well during the Canucks current three game win streak.

Just like the last time they faced Edmonton at Rexall, I expect it will be easy enough to get the Triplets freed up for favorable offensive zone starts. Edmonton does not seem to do much more than traditionally line match and leave their 3rd line to deal with defensive zone starts more often. That's typically Benoit Pouliot, Jordan Eberle and Boyd Gordon, probably because of Gordon's above-average faceoff ability. Hey, look...I'll take that matchup...any damn day. That's a feast. Pouliot, despite his above-average retrieval skills, is not a very responsible defender. Eberle is an absolute abomination at doing anything other than creating rush offensive opportunities. That's a line you want the Triplets to pin in.

That is going to leave the second line, which will likely be Bonino, Higgins, and Jannik Hansen bumping up, to deal with the Hall line when possible. Obviously being at home and getting last change will give Edmonton some leeway to free Hall up for more favorable matchups, as Bones and Higgins (along with Burrows) have been a nightmare for top scoring opposition. So the third line will need to be mindful of Hall and stem the tide at evens when he is out there. The guy has been on fire and is a threat to create offense whenever he is on the ice.

Goaltending:

I gotta say, Ben Scrivens has been quite good of late. Have to give credit where it is due. During their four game win streak he posted a .940 save% on 117 shots faced. But he did have a rough one against the improved Nashville Predators on Wednesday night. I expect to see Scrivens, and not Fasth, between the pipes tonight. Scrivens struggles when play is tight to the net. Work down low and prosper. Luckily, the Canucks have two identical twins who enjoy working from below the goal line.

The Canucks should be countering with Eddie Lack, given that the tail of the back-to-back is against a tougher opponent in the Preds, and Miller has been a rock at home thus far. Expect Lack to get on track (rhymez yo) tonight, win or lose. He has had two poor performances thus far, though not entirely of his own doing. And word from the farm is that Markstrom is demanding GMJB's attention. MOAR SHUTOUTS. ALL OF THE SHUTOUTS.

Nothing like a friendly Swedish rivalry to get the blood pumping. I think Lack is up to the challenge.

Mercad's Key To The Game:

The key to this game is going to be getting to the underbelly of Edmonton; their porous and often downright embarrassing defense. Despite their improved play, they have one of the worst defensive corps and team defenses in hockey when it comes to tracking play that is being turned at them quickly. Call it the foibles of being a young team in the NHL. They just don't get set well to defend their own zone off rushes and turnovers.

At evens or on the PP or on the PK, if you get this team puck watching they will play Timbits hockey. Bad Timbits hockey. They rarely responsibly space themselves and, as a result of what I think is a zone defensive structure, they simply lack the awareness to close off open lanes and take away available passing options when another team is rushing their zone or turning them around.

The key is to frustrate them in the neutral zone and turn play quickly. Their offense does not want to go backwards. At all. Get on their defense before they have time to settle in and zone clog the middle. Remember this gem?

Bonino all alone on an island goal

Nick Bonino Island.

PREGAME BATTLE HYMN

In honor of Tommy Sestito's first game of the season.

No cocaine was used during this performance. None.

BEER OF THE GAME

Hey we just took down a Quebecois opponent. Let's drink their beer!

La Fin Du Monde

So damn good.

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

- 1 Drink: Tom Sestito fight.

- 1 Drink: Brad Richardson point streak continues.

- 2 Drinks: Tom Sestito fights on his first shift!

- 2 Drinks: John Garrett praises Tom Sestito's truculence and determination during the game.

- 2 Drinks: Nail Yakupov does something productive for his team (don't worry...)

- 3 Drinks: Tom Sestito scores!

- CHUG: Tom Sestito Gordie Howe Hat Trick!

Parting thoughts from Michael Scott:

How some of us feel about losing Burrows and gaining Sestito -

SCORE PREDICTION WIZARD UPDATE

I don't know...Kent will update. I am so so very sorry.

I don't know

8-3 Canucks GWG Hansen.

Tack your scores in the comments homies.

Stats compiled from: nhl.com, war-on-ice.com and puckalytics.com