The Vancouver Canucks (35-34-11) will hit the road for the final time this season to battle the Edmonton Oilers (28-44-9) and Ryan Smyth, who is expected to play his final NHL game tonight.
There will be plenty of emotion tonight at Rexall Place but, unfortunately, all of it will centre on Smyth, the longtime face of the Oilers franchise who is set to skate in his final game. As far as the Canucks and Oilers going head-to-head is concerned, this game is most likely going to be bereft of any feeling considering neither side has anything to play for with both teams getting set to watch the playoffs from the outside looking in. Not even the season series is at stake as the Canucks have already secured the victory having won three of the first four meetings to date.
What both teams are looking to do tonight is snap their respective losing streaks. Vancouver has lost two in a row – most recently dropping a 4-2 decision on Thursday – while Edmonton has already suffered two consecutive defeats including falling 3-0 to the Kings on Thursday. The Oilers are closing out yet another disappointing campaign tonight that will result in a playoff-less spring for the eighth consecutive year. The Canucks recorded a 2-1 victory in their lone game played at Rexall Place so far this season back on January 21. Kellan Lain had his first career NHL goal in that outing while Zack Kassian notched the game-winner.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. The young guys take it seriously. If Torts sticks with his promise to play some younger players, then we could see the likes of Dalpe, Schroeder and potentially even Zalewski draw into the lineup. These are the guys who will be fighting for jobs next season so they'll want to do everything they can to show they belong.
2. Markstrom makes strides. Now that he's got his first start as a Canuck under his belt, Markstrom will need to take the next step which is to skate off the ice as a winner for the first time since October. He earned praise for his performance on Thursday, but now he'll need to find a way to come up with the timely saves.
3. Win one for Smytty. Every athlete wants to go out on top. Ryan Smyth doesn't exactly have that option, but the least the Oilers can do for him is to make sure his last memory on the ice is a winning one. That owe him at least that much.
DID YOU KNOW?
With tonight being Ryan Smyth's final NHL game, it will also be his last opportunity to take over sole possession of first place on the Oilers' all-time list for most power play goals.
Smyth comes into tonight's game sharing the record with Glen Anderson with 126 power play markers having tied the record back on March 6 against the New York Islanders. Out of his 23 career goals against the Canucks, eight have come on the man-advantage.
1 – Goaltender used in the season series by the Canucks (Luongo).
3 – Goaltenders used in the season series by the Oilers (Bryzgalov, Scrivens, Dubnyk).
10 – Times the Oilers have been shutout this season (7 times on home ice).
15 – Home wins for the Oilers this season, third fewest in the NHL behind the Sabres and Islanders.
83 – Career games played by Ryan Smyth against the Canucks. He has 23 goals and 52 points all-time versus Vancouver.
100 – Percent penalty kill success rate for the Canucks in the season series (12-for-12).
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
For the Oilers…
F Sam Gagner (ankle) is questionable. F Jesse Joensuu (high ankle sprain), F Nail Yakupov (bruised ankle), F Ryan Jones (torn left PCL), F Luke Gazdic (shoulder surgery), and D Andrew Ference (chest) are out.
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