Vancouver Canucks (17-18-4) vs Edmonton Oilers (18-15-3)
Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB
When: 6:00 pm PST
Where to Watch: Sportsnet Pacific
SB Nation Opposition Blog: The Copper And Blue
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: With the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ upon us, it seems like the Canucks needed to have another lengthy Eastern road swing. Starting tonight in Edmonton, the Canucks go down Highway 2 to Calgary for a HNIC tilt with the Flames. Then it’s off to New Jersey to check in on old pal Cory Schneider and the Devils on New Year’s Eve. They follow that with 3 games in 4 nights in Ottawa, Montreal and as is the will of the NHL, they will be served up to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night like some kind of ritual sacrifice. Prepare for LOTS of Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev takes, as well as the TO Media’s new insistence on referring to William Nylander as ‘The Flow’. Idiots...
Anyway, let’s focus on the task at hand here. It all starts in Edmonton, that magical land of bitter cold, endless snow, where the people pee in sinks and act as though it’s normal. It’s absolutely shocking to see that the Oilers, with all of the draft picks they’ve received over the last decade still can’t do anything, and should now be pondering two things: a) Are they wasting the prime years of Connor McDavid? And b) why on earth haven’t they fired Peter Chiarelli yet? Throw in the amount of their cap spent on players who bring absolutely nothing to the team (Milan Lucic, for example) and maybe it’s not shocking that a team as mediocre as the Vancouver Canucks can knock them out of the last Wild Card spot in the West with a regulation win tonight.
In a just world, the Canucks wouldn’t even be close to a playoff spot with the record they have. Alas, in a season where a bottom of the league finish and the best possible odds of drafting future superstar Jack Hughes would be the best thing for this team, they find themselves in a Western Conference full of mediocre teams, all still in the thick of things. And even then, it’s no easy feat for them to do this...
Per Sports Club Stats, the Canucks will need to go around 24-14-5 in their final 43 games to make the playoffs. They're currently 17-18-4. https://t.co/qGAhGuvyT8— Jason Brough (@JasonBroughTSN) December 27, 2018
They finish up this road trip with 6 straight at home before going back out on the road again, and what should be the most important part of their schedule. They play divisional opponents 8 times in February, and that will make or break this team’s fortunes this season, if January hasn’t already done them in. There’s only 2 of the 6 games on this swing that I feel comfortable they can win. It might be an ugly one, so we best be prepared for that.
One thing to watch tonight is how many penalties the Canucks get called for. You will remember the Edmonton media and coach Ken Hitchcock went on for days about McDavid’s “brutal’ treatment at the hands of the Canucks, and you can bet they’ve been greasing those wheels verbally to get calls this time around. It’s sad, because for all of the amazing things Connor McDavid’s done in his NHL career, he still hasn’t been able to figure out how to effectively draw a penalty call. As far as the Canucks (you know, a team that has legitimate beef with the NHL officials and DoPS this season) it seems like this game is leading into another uncalled headshot. It has “LOOCH REDEMPTION!!!!1!” written all over it (this is far more effective if you bang a couple rocks together as you yell it out). Don’t be surprised to see them go after Brock Boeser and our glorious starchild Elias Pettersson.
Here’s some stuff to get you up to speed for tonight: JPat is grading on the curve it would seem... The view from their side of the fence... In case you missed the 2-1 Team Canada win over HC Davos at the Spengler Cup yesterday, Kevin Bieksa doesn’t seem too rusty
Holy crap that’s a great hit... The Utica Comets have clawed their way back into the mix in the AHL, battling through a ton of injuries and callups
Quinn Hughes is letting Canucks fans over in Victoria see first hand that he’s the real deal...
My top performers from opening day at the #WJC— Darryl Keeping (@dkeeping) December 27, 2018
1. Quinn Hughes #Canucks
17 primary shot contributions, 70% CTL Exit Rate
2. Erik Brannstrom
2 goals, 15 primary shot contributions
3. Martin Necas
1 assist, 15 primary shot contributions, 8 controlled entries. pic.twitter.com/sTz2nlkSaw
A recap of Canucks prospects from Day 1 of the WJC’s from the Georgia Straight... Michael DiPietro had the shutout yesterday for Team Canada... Here’s the preview from our pals over at Copper & Blue...
Game Day Lines
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Connor McDavid Jesse Puljujarvi
Tobias Rieder Leon Draisaitl Alex Chiasson
Drake Caggiula Ryan Spooner Ty Rattie
Milan Lucic Kyle Brodziak Zack Kassian
Darnell Nurse Adam Larsson
Kevin Gravel Caleb Jones
Jason Garrison Matt Benning
Nikolay Goldobin Elias Pettersson Brock Boeser
Loui Eriksson Bob Horvat Jake Virtanen
Josh Leivo Adam Gaudette Markus Granlund
Antoine Roussel Jay Beagle Tyler Motte
Alex Edler Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot Alex Biega
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
An Edmonton metal band worth checking out, you say? If you’re into bands like Vancouver’s Unleash The Archers then you need to check out The Order Of Chaos