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GAME PREVIEW: Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers

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Game one. It’s go time.

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers (0-0-0) vs

Vancouver Canucks (0-0-0)

13 January 2021

Rogers Place

8 PM MST

TV: Sportsnet, Sportsnet 1, TVAS2

Radio: 630 CHED

SB Nation Opponents: Nucks Misconduct

SEASON OPENER

It’s been exactly 308 days since the Oilers played in a regular season game. Tonight, they embark on a sprint of a season where they will play 56 games over the next 114. The season will be unique, as the Oilers will play against Canadian based teams in the temporarily named North Division. Of the seven clubs in the division, the top four teams will make the playoffs. They will face the Vancouver Canucks a total of ten times this year. Tonight is the first of those ten meetings.

In his first media availability of the season, Coach Tippett was asked what his goal was for this year. Part of his response? Take that next step. The Oilers are going to need somewhere around 65 points in this abbreviated season to make the playoffs; they can begin to take their first step tonight with a win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Let’s go to the tape.

THE OILERS ARES SAYING

“I think our team took some steps ahead all of last year...We created some momentum in our group. Especially in the second half of the year, we were moving in the right direction. We want to come back as a stronger group.”

Source

That’s Oilers coach Dave Tippett after practice on Tuesday.

You can call it “unfinished business” if you’d like, but there’s absolutely no denying that the Oilers finished last year with a bad taste in their mouth. Getting bounced in four games from the play-in series by the twelfth-ranked Chicago Blackhawks no doubt had to feel like a kick in the gut. The time to reflect on last season has passed. The time to win? Now.

THE CANUCKS ARE SAYING

“This is going to be a type of season that we’re going to have to accept that these things are going to come up”

Source

That’s Canucks GM Jim Benning on the status of Canucks players J.T. Miller and Jordie Benn.

Both Miller and Benn are expected to miss several games in the immediate future due to a close Covid-19 contact. It’s a significant blow to the Canucks. Miller led their club in scoring last season (27-45-72), while having Jordie Benn out will cause the club to play musical chairs on defence. The Canucks have brought defenceman Travis Hamonic to the club on a one year deal; there’s a very good chance we see him debut tonight against the Oilers.

PROJECTED LINES

EDMONTON

VANCOUVER

Brock Boeser - Elias Pettersson - Jake Virtanen

Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Nils Hoglander

Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Zack MacEwen

Tyler Motte - Jay Beagle - Brandon Sutter

Alexander Edler - Nate Schmidt

Quinn Hughes - Travis Hamonic

Olli Juolevi - Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Braden Holtby

HAVE SOME OF THIS

  • IT’S CONNOR MCDAVID’S WORLD: The best player in the game today celebrates his 24th birthday. Connor McDavid is going to go nuclear on the scoresheet this season. Again. There are only 56 games this season, but it would not shock me to see this player topple 100 points should he remain healthy. A healthy McDavid is nightmare fuel for opposing goaltenders.
  • ROSTER UPDATES: Oilers GM Ken Holland was busy this offseason. He brought in Tyson Barrie on defence, who will no doubt be featured on the power play. Kyle Turris was brought in fresh from a buyout in Nashville. Holland made amends with Jesse Puljujärvi on a two year deal, and keep your eyes open for Dominik Kahun.
  • KOEKKOEK: Slater Koekkoek will make his Oilers debut tonight. Koekkoek was a member of the Blackhawks club that took care of the Oilers during the play-in series in August.
  • A YEAR WITH NO KLEF: The Oilers will not have the services of Oscar Klefbom for the 2021 season. Klefbom was on a call this past Monday saying that he wants to get back to the lineup as soon as possible, though surgery may be on the table. We’ll get to see what the lineup looks like without Klefbom tonight.
  • NET GAINS: Expect Mikko Koskinen to open the season for Edmonton, while Thatcher Demko is expected to start it off for Vancouver.
  • ONE TO WATCH: Jake Virtanen is projected to play on the top line for Vancouver tonight. The sixth overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Virtanen had a career high 36 points last season (18-18-36) in 69 games. Playing alongside Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson tonight, is this the year he makes a big jump?
  • SCRATCHES: I’m not going call everyone who’s out of the lineup “unfit to play”, even if the league still does. James Neal and Gaetan Haas are out for the Oilers tonight. Kris Russell is expected to be a healthy scratch. The Canucks will be without the previously mentioned Jordie Benn and J.T. Miller.
  • Let’s. Go. Oilers.