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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Game Twenty Three- Canucks vs Edmonton

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The halfway mark of the season looms, and the Canucks continue to give up points. Tonight, it’s the Edmonton Oilers in the first of two straight in Vancouver.

Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (8-12-2) vs EDMONTON OILERS (12-8-0)

ROGERS ARENA- VANCOUVER, BC

7:00PM PST

TV: SPORTSNET. RADIO: SPORTSNET 650

OPPOSING BLOG: COPPER & BLUE

The Canucks sit a mere 3 points back of the 4th place Montreal Canadiens heading into tonight’s game, and that seems encouraging. It is, until you see that Montreal has 5 games in hand on the Canucks. And they’re only 6 points back of tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers. But even the Oilers have games in hand on the Canucks right now, and with the Oilers on an 8-2-0 tear in their last 10 games, tonight’s game has ass-kicking written all over it.

It’s been 7 and a half years since the Canucks last played the Oilers to open the season, and a lot has changed for both teams. One of the biggest differences, is the Canucks are not getting the kind of goaltending the Oilers are, and the fact that I have to write this sentence tells you just how bad it’s getting.

The Canucks have been making adjustments defensively. They aren’t giving up as many shots or chances as they were earlier in the season. The problem is they need their goalies to start stealing games for them, and that really seems like an impossibility, especially when it comes to the play of Braden Holtby. Thatcher Demko has been better, but still not where they need him to be. If they can’t get better performances from these two guys the rest of the way, they’re screwed, and there will be no playoffs for them this summer as we head into literally the most important off-season this team’s faced in years.

LINEUPS

Courtesy of nhl.com, here’s what the lineups for tonight’s game should look like.

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — Connor McDavid — Jesse Puljujarvi

Tyler Ennis — Leon Draisaitl — Kailer Yamamoto

Dominik Kahun — Jujhar Khaira — Josh Archibald

Patrick Russell — Gaetan Haas — Alex Chiasson

Darnell Nurse — Tyson Barrie

Kris Russell — Adam Larsson

Caleb Jones — Evan Bouchard

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

Scratched: Devin Shore, James Neal

Injured: Slater Koekkoek (collarbone), Kyle Turris (undisclosed), Zack Kassian, (undisclosed), Ethan Bear (undisclosed), William Lagesson (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Brock Boeser

Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Nils Hoglander

Antoine Roussel — Brandon Sutter — Adam Gaudette

Zack MacEwen — Jay Beagle — Jake Virtanen

Alexander Edler — Nate Schmidt

Quinn Hughes — Jordie Benn

Olli Juolevi — Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Braden Holtby

Scratched: Jalen Chatfield, Jayce Hawryluk, Loui Eriksson

Injured: Justin Bailey (upper body), Tyler Motte (undisclosed), Travis Hamonic (upper body), Micheal Ferland (head)

For the Canucks, the only change is in goal, as Thatcher Demko gets the nod tonight from Travis Green. The Oilers have mounting injuries, but those aren’t enough to get James Neal back in the lineup. Boy, that signing looks almost as bad as the Eriksson one as days go by.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Some CELTIC FROST for you today. This is a track off ‘Vanity/Nemesis’, an album that saw them get back to their roots after the disastrously bad ‘Cold Lake’ LP, which the band essentially disavowed afterwards. While it may not have the ferocity of ‘Morbid Tales’ or ‘To Mega Therion’, it holds its own in the impressive catalog of the Swiss band that was definitely ahead of its time.