The NHL season kicks back off on January 13 with their exciting, shortened season. Five games will be up on the board throughout Wednesday night. One of these games will be between the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers. These two teams will look to earn a big win in the North Division as they meet up to open the new campaign. This game will drop the puck at around 10:00 PM Eastern time.
The Canucks finished out last season with a record of 36-27-6, which helped put them in fourth place of the Pacific Division. Vancouver knocked off the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues in the postseason, but were eliminated in seven games to the Vegas Golden Knights. The Canucks will look to start this season out strong with a win over the Oilers.
Edmonton put up a record of 37-25-9 throughout last season, which put them in second place of the Pacific Division. The Oilers met up with the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifiers and were upset in a shocking four game series. Edmonton will look to put that behind them with a big win to open up this season. I expect the Oilers to come out with a chip on their shoulder this season.
These two teams found success last season, making into the playoffs pool. The Oilers had a tough loss in the qualifiers, but will look to find more success this season. Vancouver made a nice push to the second round and will look to build upon that in this season. I expect both teams to try and come out hot in this one as they look for a big win to open up the new campaign.
The Canucks and the Oilers met up four times throughout last season. Edmonton hosted the first game on October 2. Alexander Edler and Tanner Pearson each scored for Vancouver, but it was not enough. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, while Matt Benning and Zack Kassian each had two points. Mike Smith stopped 31 of 33 shots to help give the Oilers a 3-2 win.
The Oilers also hosted the second game of the season series on November 30. Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist, but it was not enough for the Oilers. Tanner Pearson had two goals and two assists. Bo Horvat had three assists on the night to help lead the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom stopped 28 of 30 shots against him as the Canucks earned a 5-2 win.
The third game of the season series shifted to Vancouver on December 1. Brock Boeser and Josh Leivo both scored a goal for the Canucks, which was not enough. Leon Draisaitl had two goals, while Alex Chiasson and Connor McDavid both had two assists on the night. Mikko Koskinen turned away 30 of 32 shots to lead the Oilers to a 3-2 win.
The Canucks also hosted the final game of the season series on December 23. Oscar Klefbom and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored a goal for Edmonton on the night. Tanner Pearson had two assists, while four different players all scored for the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 of 29 shots as Vancouver tied up the season series with a 4-2 win.
Vancouver lost quite a few key players in the offseason, but made moves to improve as well. The Canucks lost Tyler Toffoli, Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom in the offseason. Vancouver was able to replace Tanev and Markstrom with Nate Schmidt and Braden Holtby. The Canucks will need those two players to step up if they want to repeat last season’s success.
The Oilers went into this offseason looking to improve their depth and defense. Edmonton added Tyson Barrie and Kyle Turris should be able to help the Oilers depth wise greatly. Edmonton lost Andreas Athanasiou, but were able to bring back Jesse Puljujarvi. If Puljujari can return to the play that got him drafted fourth overall, it should help propel the Oilers postseason chances.
These two teams had interesting offseason’s that could really help them. The Oilers still have some questions at defense with Oscar Klefbom missing most in not all of this season. Edmonton’s depth looks much better though. The Canucks will need Schmidt and Holtby to step up big this season if they want to repeat last season’s success.
Braden Holtby will likely make his debut with the Canucks in this matchup. Holtby had a bit of an off season last season. He went 25-14-6 through his starts. Holtby earned a save percentage of .897 and a GAA of 3.11 through those starts. He did a little bit better in the postseason, posting a .906 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA in eight starts.
Mikko Koskinen will likely get the nod in the crease for the Oilers on Wednesday night. Koskinen went 18-13-3 through his starts last season. Koskinen finished the season with a save percentage of .917 and a 2.75 GAA. Koskinen played in Edmonton’s four playoff games, earning a .889 save percentage and a GAA of 3.16. The Oilers will need him to take a step this season.
Koskinen had the better stats throughout last season, but hit a wall in the playoffs against the Blackhawks. The Oilers need him to play well in the starting role this season if they want to take the next step. Vancouver is hoping a change of scenery will help Holtby bounce back this season. If Holtby does bounce back, it will be huge for the Canucks.
These two teams are coming off solid seasons last season, which should lead to an exciting game on Wednesday night. The Oilers are coming into this one after a strong offseason and a disappointing postseason exit. Edmonton will look to assert their dominance on this one by breaking in on Holtby early and often. I think the Oilers offense is a mismatch in this one, giving them the edge.
BetOnline has Edmonton listed as a -125 against the money line in this one. This gives a solid edge to the Oilers on Wednesday night. I think Edmonton can dominate on offense though, which makes -1 ½ at +220 really appealing to me. I like the Oilers to come out hot and if their refreshed defense can step up, I think they can cover this spread.