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Game Thread: Oilers at Canucks - Looking For The First Win

Shaking off a bad opening night, the Oilers head to the west coast looking for their first win of the season.

Ben Nelms

With a couple road games coming up next, at Vancouver and Los Angeles, it would be nice to get off to a good start with a solid beating of the Flames.

I wrote that in the game thread for the last game, and let's just say that things didn't go exactly according to plan on opening night. There were things to like about the Oilers' game for sure but plenty to dislike as well, and in a game that had a very October 2013 feeling to it, the Oilers ended up dropping a 5-2 decision to the Flames. But the season is 82 games long not just one, meaning that there are many more games to be lost ... err ... I mean played, and the season continues tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks.

The Canucks are coming off their worst season in a number of years; they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007/08 and finished the season with their lowest point total since 1999/2000. Some of last season's poor showing was the result of having to deal with a number of injuries, and part had to do with a team that was once pretty good (but never quite good enough) now being in decline. Given that the Canucks fan base has taken a turn towards obnoxious in recent seasons, seeing their season play out the way it did was something that I truly enjoyed.

How To Tune In

For only the sixth time in history all 30 NHL teams are in action tonight and all seven games featuring Canadian teams can be found on TV somewhere thanks to the NHL's new deal with Rogers. For the Oilers game though you don't have to go too far out of your comfort zone, 8PM on CBC just like so many other Saturday nights.

What To Watch For With The Oilers

Keep an eye on the Oilers end of the rink tonight, but have your hands ready to cover your eyes as required. In the season opener what happened inside the Oilers blue line was the single biggest reason that the team came away without a win. The goaltending wasn't anywhere close to good enough and the defence did almost nothing to help Scrivens out. Tonight the man between the pipes will be different - Viktor Fasth gets his first start of the season - but the defence remains unchanged, hopefully though we see different results.

What To Watch For With The Canucks

From Nucks Misconduct:

While we liked a lot of what we saw Wednesday night, there were some things that are going to need to be fixed. Alex Edler and Luca Sbisa cannot play on the same pairing. Edler's overall game was promising that he could be snapping out of the funk that's plagued him the last couple years, but he still makes the kind of mistakes that end up in the back of the Canucks net. Sbisa on the other hand just makes me cringe. There's a lot of raw potential in this kid, but he's such a weak link at the moment, that it worries me the Oilers will try to exploit it.

Line Combinations

Edmonton Oilers

Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
David Perron - Leon Draisaitl - Nail Yakupov
Benoit Pouliot - Mark Arcobello - Teddy Purcell
Matt Hendricks - Boyd Gordon - Jesse Joensuu

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry
Nikita Nikitin - Mark Fayne
Brad Hunt - Justin Schultz

Viktor Fasth

Vancouver Canucks

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Alex Burrows
Brad Richardson - Linden Vey - Zack Kassian
Derek Dorsett - Shawn Matthias - Jannik Hansen

Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa
Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev
Yannick Weber - Ryan Stanton

Ryan Miller

Final Thoughts

  • At even strength in close situations the Oilers had a nearly 2:1 Corsi advantage on Thursday night. Yes Calgary is terrible, and yes they were on the back half of back-to-back games but that is still something nice to see. Of course the only stat that really matters is wins so I guess I should just put down the calculator.
  • Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom are probably learning a lot of wonderful things in the pressbox. Had Thursday night been a gem of a game I would understand the decision to make no changes to the roster, but if you watched the game you could probably come up with a reason, or nine, to make a couple changes.
  • In my fridge tonight I have three beers from the Pacific Northwest: from Hopworks Urban Brewery the Ace of Spades Imperial IPA and Pigwar White IPA, and the Octofox IPA from Phillips Brewing Company. I love the cities of the Pacific Northwest and their many great beers, I can't stand their sports teams though.

To Get You Fired Up