Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Oilers (3.30.13)
|Team Record: 19-9-6
Last Game: 4-1 W vs Colorado (MAR.28.13)
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 3-2 OT/W (FEB.04.13)
|Team Record: 13-13-7
Last Game: 6-4 W vs Columbus (MAR.28.13)
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 2-3 OT/L (FEB.04.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (19-9-6) will look to extend their win streak to a season-high seven games tonight when they visit the Edmonton Oilers (13-13-7) for a Northwest Division clash on Hockey Night in Canada.What You Need to Know
- The Canucks are closing out their March schedule and opening a short two-game road swing tonight. They will be seeking their seventh straight victory tonight which would mark a season-high. The last time the Canucks won seven in a row was just about this time last year. They posted a seven-game win streak from March 22 to April 3, 2012.
- The Oilers are playing the second game of their three-game home stand tonight and are looking to extend their win streak to three games which would mark a season-high. They began their home stand with a 6-4 win over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
- The last time Edmonton managed to win three in a row was just over a year ago. They swept a three-game home stand from January 31 to February 4, 2012 knocking off the Avalanche, Blackhawks and Red Wings. The second win of that streak, which came against Chicago, was the night Oilers' F Sam Gagner had his memorable four-goal, eight-point night.
- The Canucks are hoping to have F Zack Kassian back in the lineup tonight. Kassian has missed the last five straight games and seven of the last eight overall with a back ailment. D Keith Ballard, who has a small fracture in his foot, will miss his second straight game as he is not with the team on their current road trip.
- Canucks G Cory Schneider will make his seventh consecutive start which would mark a new career-high for him. A victory tonight would also equal a personal career-high win streak for him. He set that mark last season when he won seven in a row from December 29, 2011 to February 24, 2012.
- The Canucks have an opportunity to stretch their lead atop the Northwest Division tonight. They enter the day sitting two points up on Wild. With a win and a loss by Minnesota to Los Angeles, Vancouver could move four points clear of the Wild with Minnesota holding just one game in hand.
- Tonight marks the third of five meetings between the Canucks and Oilers, and the first of two meetings the teams will have in the next six days. The teams will do battle again next Thursday back at Rogers Arena.
- The Canucks and Oilers have split their first two meetings of the season with each team picking up 3-2 victories in games that required extra time. The Oilers won their game in a shootout while the Canucks won the most recent meeting on February 4 in overtime with D Chris Tanev playing hero scoring with just 20 seconds left in the extra session.
- The Canucks have earned points in six straight meetings against Edmonton (5-0-1) dating back to last season. They have also won two straight games at Rexall Place and three of their last four in Edmonton overall.
- Prior to Thursday, the last time that Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows all scored a goal in the same game was December 23, 2010 – a 7-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena.
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. The game is also available on RDS2. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.
Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.
Keys to the Game
The Canucks Win If...
- They finish strong. If the first two games of the season series has been any indication, it's not how you start but rather how you finish that is more crucial. Both teams have blown two-goal leads to lose already and, while neither the Canucks or the Oilers will want that trend to continue if they do manage to build an early lead, both teams ought to realize it will take a full 60-minute effort to win tonight.
- They win the special teams battle. The season series may be tied at one win each but the special teams battle has been all Edmonton so far. The Oilers are 2-for-8 with the man-advantage while they've killed off all nine of Vancouver's power play opportunities. The Canucks will need to turn those statistics to turn around if they want to eventually want to win the season series and there's no better time than tonight to start.
- The top line gets on a roll. The Sedin twins were reunited with Alex Burrows on Thursday against the Avs and, boy, did it feel good. The trio combined for three goals and six points which, hopefully, will be a sign of things to come. Henrik and Daniel Sedin are tied for the team lead in points against the Oilers this season but they'll need generate more than just assists. Burrows, meanwhile, has yet to get on the scoresheet in the season series.
The Oilers Win If...
- The big-three break through. Edmonton's super-trio of Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins have combined for just one goal and one assist so far in the season series. The three were reunited on a line on Thursday but, regardless of whether they play together or not tonight, Edmonton can't afford to have them be silent if they want to win this game.
- Dubnyk continues his fine play. Edmonton's number one netminder has done just about everything you could possibly ask of him in the season series turning aside 64 of 69 total shots in two outings for a save percentage of .928. He hasn't been quite as sharp in recent outings going 1-2-1 in his last four starts while allowing 11 goals over those four outings. His team will need him to bump his mini-slump and get back to playing the way he was back in early February.
- Force the run-and-gun style. The Canucks have been engaged in so many low-scoring, tight games that you'd have to wonder if they remember how to play wide open hockey. The Oilers might actually be forcing the Canucks to play out of their comfort zone if they open this game up to the point we see some end-to-end action. It would certainly be a welcome sight for hockey fans regardless of where your allegiances lie compared to some of the Canucks' recent outings.
Ones to Watch
The last time Chris Tanev was in Edmonton he scored the biggest goal of his NHL career. Granted, it was just his first and only NHL goal at the time but it was still a significant one as it was the overtime winner in a 3-2 Canucks victory back on February 4.
Tanev will hope he gets a chance to play scoring hero again tonight. While he might not instantly come to mind when one mentions point producing defensemen on the Canucks, it's interesting to note that his seven points this season has him tied for fourth among Vancouver blue-liners and just one point behind Jason Garrison for third place.
The 23-year-old will be looking to snap a two-game point-less drought tonight. Three of his seven overall points this season have come in his last nine outings.
If the rumours floating around prove to be true, then Ryan Whitney's time in Edmonton are about to come to an end. It might end up being a good thing for the 30-year-old blue-liner to bolt town considering his struggles – again – this season and the fact he's even been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions.
Despite his not-so-impressive run in parts of four seasons with Edmonton, there should still be plenty of teams interested in the services of the former first round pick who was, at one point, a noted point-producing defenseman. He had a career-high 14-goal, 59-point season in his sophomore campaign with Pittsburgh back in 2006.07 but hasn't come close to replicating those numbers since leaving Steeltown.
Whitney comes into tonight's tilt point-less in three straight outings although he had been having a strong month offensively prior to this recent dry spell. He has three goals and seven points in 13 games played in the month of March after managing just three assists in his first 12 games of the season. He has one assist in one game played against the Canucks this season.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at email@example.com.