G49: Oilers @ Canucks - 1 Point
Beating the Calgary Flames on Saturday night and essentially putting the final nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes was an excellent feeling for Oilers fans. That doesn't really have anything to do with the game topics for today, I just wanted to stress that.
Tonight the Edmonton Oilers have a chance to clinch a playoff spot. A single point tonight will do it. That is going to be on everyone's mind tonight and should be one more reason for the Oilers to come out fast against a struggling Canucks team.
Moving on. The Edmonton Oilers have seven more games to play, including tonight's bout against the Vancouver Canucks and will only face off against two teams in that span; Vancouver and Montreal. Here are the final records for the Oilers against the other teams:
vs Toronto: 3-5-1
vs Calgary: 6-4-0
vs Ottawa: 9-0-0
vs Winnipeg: 7-2-0
Edmonton has only played 5 games against the Canucks and currently sport a 3-2-0 record in these 5 games. The Oilers haven't played the Canucks since March 13 which in this weird season feels like a year ago. It's difficult to know what to expect from these 5 games. After returning from being ravaged by COVID, the Canucks went 3-1 with two of those games being against the Leafs and suddenly people were discussing whether the Canucks could push for a final playoff spot.
Since that however, Vancouver has lost four straight including losses to a Leafs team that was resting players. The shine has worn off again for Vancouver and it will be interesting to see if their team comes out to battle hard against Edmonton for a final statement or if they slump through the rest of their season.
OILERS LINE COMBINATIONS
Draisaitl - McDavid - Puljujarvi
Kahun - RNH - Yamamoto
Ennis - McLeod - Archibald
Neal - Khaira - Chiasson
Nurse - Barrie
Kulikov - Larsson
Jones - Bear
- I've updated the Oilers line combinations. I expected McLeod back in the top six but Tippett is sliding him back to the 3C and surprisingly Khaira returns far quicker than expected.
CANUCKS LINE COMBINATIONS
4 GAME THOUGHTS
1.) Offensive Woes - The line of Miller with Hoglander and Boeser have not produced much during this recent stretch. Boeser has a single goal in his last 5 games, Hoglander, a single assist, and Miller has done the best with two goals and an assist. These are all great players but for any number of reasons they are not producing right now. Edmonton needs to capitalize on that.
2.) Top Six McLeod - Sadly I was not able to post a game blog on Saturday but it was great to watch Ryan McLeod so quickly get into the top six. McLeod hasn't registered on the score sheet yet but his calm game, quick skating and excellent decision making have all been on display and it's clear Tippett already trusts him in nearly any situation. If McLeod can produce some points and find a home between RNH and Puljujarvi it gives the Oilers a brand new look and a real threat away from Draisaitl and McDavid.
3.) Yamamoto need to go go - Kailer Yamamoto has had a fine if unspectacular season. His Sh% dropped this year which was to be expected with 8 goals in 47 vs 11 in 27 last year. There are some things Yamamoto does excellent but he needs to find a way to shoot more as he is currently averaging less than two shots a game. Now that he is on a line with McDavid he is going to get the puck plenty, he needs to find a way to do more with it.
4.) Sharpen Up - With respect to the Canucks, Edmonton is clearly the superior team right now and while the flow of the game does dictate Vancouver getting some chances, the Oilers need to play like the better team if they want to have any playoff success. In the last two games against Calgary, the Oilers struggled too much at times to get the puck out of their own game. The transition game needs to be tuned up and these will be good games to do such.