Canucks vs Oilers Game Preview - January 27, 2014

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Image courtesy of canucks.nhl.com

The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers are set to hook up for the second time in less than a week. Will the Canucks be able to extend their winning streak to two games? And will the Oilers finally get revenge on Zack Kassian for repeatedly embarrassing their franchise? I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.

Last Game

The Phoenix Coyotes were in Vancouver on Sunday night to watch the Grammys face the Canucks in an important Western Conference tilt at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks got out to a good start by jumping out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Kevin Bieksa and Jannik Hansen. It only took 18 seconds for the Coyotes to cut the lead in half as Antoine Vermette scored to ruin the party for Vancouver. Phoenix would tie it up in the second but the Canucks scored another quick two goals to regain the lead. The back and forth continued as the Coyotes once again clawed back to tie the game at 4 goals apiece.

Eleven seconds before the end of regulation, Derek Morris was called for cross checking on Dan Hamhuis giving the Canucks a 4 on 3 man advantage in overtime. The Canucks failed to score on the power play (say what?) but Kevin Bieksa quickly made amends for a deplorable man advantage by scoring on his own rebound, giving the Canucks the win and a very valuable two points.

How bad is the power play right now? The Canucks own twitter account is chirping them:

 

 

Edmonton Oilers

Here we go again. The Oilers are back in Vancouver to face the Canucks in what will probably become the Oilers vs Zack Kassian III (or IV).

The Oilers are once again demonstrating their management team is inept as they sit dead last in the Western Conference (and three points out of last in the NHL). In fact, the only thing more tragic in Edmonton this season is their prodigal son Mike Comrie getting dumped by Lizzy McGuire.

One notable bright spot for the Oilers has been the play of Taylor Hall, who leads Edmonton in scoring with 18 goals and 50 points and fell just shy of landing a spot on Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics.

The defence and goaltending has been a garbage fire (sounds familiar) but apparently the Oilers are hoping that changing backup goaltenders will be the cure to their problems. And hey, if that doesn’t work, the Oilers can always fire the coach for the fifth time in six years. Actually in this case, I highly recommend that course of action.

Canucks lines: Update 6:45 PM

Roberto Luongo gets the start over backup Eddie Lack. Jordan Schroeder makes his long awaited return to the Canucks lineup. Dale Weise and Kellan Lain are the healthy scratches.

Higgins – Kesler – Kassian

D. Sedin – Richardson – Burrows

Booth – Schroeder – Hansen

Sestito – Dalpe – Weber

Hamhuis – Tanev

Garrison – Stanton

Edler – Bieksa

Luongo

Storylines

1. Keep pushing the offence

I know the Canucks struggled defensively against the Coyotes, but it was great to see them put the puck in the net for a change. It’s no secret that the Canucks need to score more goals to be successful, despite what their leadership says (more on that in a minute).

While giving up two-goal leads twice in one game against Phoenix is slightly disturbing, two of the goals were complete flukes and Roberto Luongo was struggling. As long as the Canucks concentrate on putting pressure on the opposition’s defence and getting shots on net, they will do much better than trying to squeak through these 2-1 games.

2. Kevin Lowe’s sabbatical

It was revealed on Saturday night by CBC’s Elliotte Friedman that Kevin Lowe offered to take a sabbatical or completely step down from the Edmonton Oilers as President of Hockey Operations, but was rejected by owner Darryl Katz.

First off, what exactly would a sabbatical do for the team? Lowe is one of the men directly responsible for screwing up this franchise so giving him an extended vacation, cleaning up his mess and then welcoming him back is supposed to help the situation? Nah, that wouldn’t work.

The second (and most logical to anyone not named Darryl) is to let him go free, but that was kiboshed by Katz. Why? Because he thinks Lowe can pull himself out this disaster known as the Oilers? Every franchise goes through a painful period (or multiple if you happen to be stationed in Vancouver), but what the Oilers have managed to pull since 2006 is nothing short of spectacular. If a franchise can’t even compete for a playoff spot after three consecutive first overall draft picks and multiple coaching changes, then something isn’t right at the top of the pyramid.

While I find it mildly amusing to watch this all unfold, I am genuinely starting to feel bad for the fans of this team. If the Oilers don’t make a change soon, I’m betting the fans start volunteering to take a sabbatical.

3. Daniel Sedin

The biggest story so far this season has to be the Canucks lack of scoring, summed up eloquently by Daniel Sedin following Thursday’s disastrous loss to the Nashville Predators:

“That’s where we are right now. We have to realize we have to win games 2-1.”

I don’t like to criticize anyone with the last name Sedin, but maybe the problem is their mind set of having to win games 2-1. I don’t know where this attitude came from (*cough* Alain Vigneault), but the Sedins seem to have forgotten that their roles are defined by their position in the line up. Their job is to score goals for the team while the remaining lines are either providing secondary scoring or shutting down the opposition. It’s great to be considered two-way players, but when your team is clearly struggling to score you have to take some chances. It drives me berserk when I read or listen to Daniel talk about defence as if it’s their main priority. What made the Canucks successful wasn’t the twins playing two-way hockey, it was them being focused on offence and burying teams with crazy wizard goals.

Prediction

The Canucks aren’t great right now, but the Oilers are deplorable. Vancouver wins 4-3 as I am hoping the Canucks can build off of their five-goal outburst against the Coyotes.

Don’t worry, Ian Lusher and I will eventually pick the Canucks to lose a game. It’s just really hard and depressing to predict them losing to teams like Nashville, Edmonton and Phoenix.

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Steve Lancashire Canucks Contributor
@lankey22

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