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Game #53 – Vancouver Canucks (22-28-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (35-19-2) – game recap

The Canucks continued their march to the end of a season that will end in the 5th playoff miss in 7 seasons under the management of Jim Benning. This will undoubteduly be a critical off-season with the Canucks needing to deal with a change in GM and either re-signing the coaching staff or hiring new ones, on top of free agency and the draft and expansion draft. The Canucks will have important decisions with respect to who they protect. For now, the Canucks will use these final 4 games to evaluate the players. Today the Canucks took on an Edmonton Oilers squad that was using this game as a final tune-up for their playoff game. Look for Edmonton to rest some of their key players, such as Connor McDavid, Zack Kassian or any player that may be battling a minor ailment. The Canucks started Thatcher Demko in net and went with the same 12 forwards as last game. Jack Rathbone and Jalen Chatfield drew in for Nate Schmidt and Olli Juolevi. Could the Canucks win their final meeting of the series against the Oilers? Here is today’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Oilers opened the scoring just under 13 minutes into the game as Adam Larsson drilled a one-timer past Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko
  • The Canucks tied the game 87 seconds into the second period as Bo Horvat redirected a centering feed past Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen for a SH marker
  • The Canucks took the lead just over 9 minutes into the 3rd period as Matthew Highmore rifled a sizzler top corner on Koskinen
  • Sixteen seconds later, Travis Boyd snapped one top corner on Koskinen
  • Just under 4 minutes later, Highmore snapped a shot through a screen that squeaked between the pads of Koskinen
  • Thatcher Demko stopped 31/32 shots
  • Final score: Canucks 4 Oilers 1

My Take:

  • Thatcher Demko was outstanding today, stopping 31/32 shots. The only one to beat him was an Adam Larsson bullet from the point through traffic. He stopped all 7 shots he faced on the PP and 2 shorthanded chances. Demko will probably get one more start with 3 more games over 4 days, starting tomorrow night
  • A strong 3rd period was the difference in this one. Also helped that Koskinen allowed three softies. It can’t have Oilers fans feeling good heading into the playoffs, especially since goaltendoing is what eliminated the Oilers in the RTP tournament last year
  • JT Miller, Matthew Highmore, Brock Boeser and Alex Edler all had strong nights
  • I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. The team will be better off in the long run if they play these games the right way and feel good heading into the off-season as opposed to tanking and losing all four games. The draft is a crapshoot in any given year and it generally takes 3-4 years to develop a prospect. Some players are playing for jobs next season, others will be looking for bigger roles on the team.
  • The Canucks won 45% of the faceoffs, led by Jimmy Vesey and Zack MacEwen, who both won every draw they took. Travis Boyd (60% success rate) also had a good day in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 14 hits, led by Zack MacEwen, who had 3 hits today
  • The Canucks blocked 6 shots. Jayce Hawryluk, Tyler Graovac, Marc Michaelis, MacEwen, Edler and Travis Hamonic each blocked a shot
  • Up next, the Canucks head home for their final home stand of the season. It’s expected Holtby will get the start in goal.
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