McDavid Oilers, Canucks Hughes

Canucks Game Day; The Upside Down Pacific, Gabby Pod

Canucks Game Facts

Tonight: Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks

Where: Rogers Arena

When: 7 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Expecting Stuart Skinner for Edmonton, Thatcher Demko for Vancouver.

Goaltending has been just one of many problems for the Oilers. Skinner, a Calder Trophy finalist last season, sports an .861 save percentage. His partner Jack Campbell isn’t much better at .873.

Superstar captain Connor McDavid often speaks about the mistakes his team makes all over the ice surface.

“Death by a thousand cuts,” he said the other day.

Monday night is Edmonton’s chance to turn the ship around and make a statement. The surprise Pacific Division strugglers against the surprising second place Canucks. We knew Vancouver was better, but this start flies in the face of expectations and in the face of recent history.

So far it’s all come together for a head coach Rick Tocchet and his team that’s buying in.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Captain Quinn Hughes was named the 1st Star of the Week in the NHL for the period ending on Sunday.

“It’s a nice honour, but it doesn’t mean too much to me honestly,” Hughes said Monday morning. “I think the season, how we started means a lot to me, we all came to camp early and there’s been a lot of, I don’t want to say pressure, but over the last couple of years the way we started, and for our group to come out and be resilient in a sense, I take a lot of pride in that I’d say.”

In three games last week, Hughes had a goal and seven assists. Five of those points came in the 10-1 destruction of the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. He’s on top of league scoring for defenceman with 16 points.

Elias Pettersson has ten points over his last five games and is tied for the NHL lead in scoring with 20 points. He previously earned the distinction of being the NHL’s 2nd-star for the month of October.

The Oilers are cold all over. Leon Draisaitl is pointless in his last two games, both losses, since picking up two assists in the Heritage Classic victory over the Calgary Flames.

McDavid is averaging one assist per game over his last five. He hasn’t lit the lamp since an October 17th game against the Nashville Predators. He missed two games due to injury since then.

Depth scoring is absent to say the least. Derek Ryan has one point, youngster Dylan Holloway has none, and so much for the heralded acquisition of McDavid’s junior hockey buddy Connor Brown. He’s pointless in nine games.

Special Teams

The Canucks power play has been a contributing factor in the club’s outstanding early season record, clicking 30% of the time, 4th best in the NHL. They won despite going 0-for-5 on Saturday night against the Stars.

The Vancouver PK is hovering around 78%, just a little below the 80% mark of respectability.

Last season the Oilers relied on their power play for much of their offensive success. This year it’s clicking 25% of the time. Still a good idea to stay out of the penalty box with McDavid healthy and the Oilers desperate.

Their PK is a substandard 71.8%.

Coming In:

Oilers: 2-7-and-1, coming off a 5-2 loss at home to the Nashville Predators on Saturday. They’re next to last in the Pacific Division, 12 points behind the Canucks.

Canucks: 8-2-and-1 for 17 points, 2nd most in the Western Conference, coming off a 2-0 win over the Dallas Stars two nights ago.

The Brand New “Simmer and Gabby” Podcast featuring Bruce Boudreau talking Canucks and more:

“Simmer and Gabby” from Monday, November 6th

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.