Game 82 preview: Edmonton Oilers vs. Vancouver Canucks (7:00 p.m. MT, Sportsnet)

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The 82-game regular season repeat ends tonight for the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks will return to Vancouver after the game, then have exit interviews with their coaches and management on Saturday, before parting ways for the summer.

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers will prepare for the Los Angeles Kings and the first round of the playoffs, which begin Monday.

Oilersnation knows better than any fanbase over the past two decades how much better the Oilers are today than the Canucks. Missing the playoffs is the worst for the players and their fans, and it’s even more painful when you know it’s happening. Edmonton fans had known for many years that the playoffs weren’t going to happen, but suddenly the playoffs became a regular occurrence.

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The Oilers have made the playoffs three years in a row, but this year they’ll be looking for their first playoff win since 2017. While making the playoffs is tough, winning an innings is a bigger challenge.

Here are the longest playoff winning streaks entering this year and last year they won a playoff series.

24 seasons: Florida. Last series victory in 1996.
16 seasons: Toronto, 2004.
15 seasons: Buffalo, 2007.
10 seasons: New Jersey, 2012.
9 seasons: Detroit, 2013.
7 seasons: LA, 2014.
6 seasons: Minnesota, 2015 and
5 seasons: Anaheim and Ottawa, 2017.
4 seasons: Edmonton and NYR, 2017.
3 seasons: Nashville, Pittsburgh, Washington (2018) and San José, 2019.
2 seasons: St. Louis (2019) and Arizona, Chicago, Columbus, Philadelphia and Vancouver, 2020.
1 season: Calgary, Dallas (2020), Montreal, Winnipeg, Vegas and NYI, 2021 and Seattle (never, first season this year.)

Tampa, Carolina, Boston and Colorado all won a round last season and are back in action this year. Interestingly, the Kings, Capitals and Blues haven’t won a playoff round since winning the Stanley Cup in 2014, 2018 and 2019 respectively. Chicago (2015) would also be on this list if it weren’t for the expanded 2020 playoffs. If COVID hadn’t happened, the Hawks wouldn’t have been a top 16 team.

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In mid-May, eight teams will add another year to their drought, while the other eight will be a little closer to their ultimate goal. Fans in Florida and Toronto are desperate for a win in the series, but the other 14 cities will also wake up Monday morning hoping their team can advance to the second round.

What’s fascinating about this season is that while 28 teams play their last game of the season tonight (Caroline and LA have already finished, while Seattle and Winnipeg are due to play on Sunday), we only know the opponents and Game one locations in ONE series.

We know Edmonton will host LA. That’s it.

Minnesota and St. Louis will face off, but who gets home ice advantage will be determined tonight. Minnesota leads the Blues by two points, but St. Louis holds the tiebreaker. If the Blues beat Vegas, Minnesota needs at least one point against Colorado to go home.

Colorado and Calgary will open their home series next week, but it’s unclear who they will face. Nashville leads Dallas by one point. If the Predators get a point in Arizona tonight, they’ll go to Calgary, but if they lose in regulation and Dallas beats Anaheim, then Dallas will go to Calgary and Nashville will be in Colorado.

None of the four East series is determined.

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Florida could play Washington or Pittsburgh.

The New York Rangers will play whoever finishes better between WSH or PIT.

Carolina will play either in Tampa Bay or Boston.

Toronto will host whoever finishes higher between VG or BOS.

The plot tonight is that if the Rangers beat Washington, they will face Pittsburgh. The Rangers sort of control who they face in the first round.

Toronto hosts the Bruins. If they beat Boston, they’ll face Tampa in the first round. If Boston wins and Tampa loses to NYI somehow, the Bruins will face Toronto. Again.

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The only intrigue in the Oilers game will be what the forward lines will look like with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on leave.

ALIGNMENTS…

Lubricators

Kane–McLeod–Puljujarvi
Hyman – Armband – Yamamoto
Foegele–RNH–Ryan
Archibald-Rive-Kassian

Kulak – This
Keith Bouchard
Russell–Barrie

Koskinen

That’s my best guess on the center position. I don’t see why Woodcroft would change the NHL line for a game, or juggle all of their best wingers. Kris Russell replaces Philip Broberg and Mike Smith will be the substitute for the second game in a row.

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Canucks…

Garland–Miller–Chiasson
Podkolzine–Pettersson–Boeser
Dickinson–Richardson–Highmore
Dries – Lammikko – Pétan

Ekman-Larsson–Myers
Hughes Schenn
Hunt – Dermott

Silovs

The Canucks roster is unconfirmed as they didn’t skate this morning either. Spencer Martin took the win last night, so maybe he’s going straight.

The main motivation for the Oilers tonight is that they could set a new franchise record for most home games with a point. They are 13-0-1 and tied the franchise record of 14 games with their win last night.

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Photoshop: Tom Kostuk

MATCH DAY PREDICTION: Oilers players are motivated to win without McDavid and Draisaitl. They win a low-scoring, low-scoring affair 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTIONS: Someone overreacts to an error, in what will likely be a low intensity game, and writes on social media, “You can’t win the playoffs making these types of plays.”

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS PREDICTIONS FOR GAME DAY: Many Oilers forwards have recently ended double-digit scoring droughts. The longest goal droughts are now Brassard (12), Shore (8), Archibald (7) and Foegele and RNH (5), which are not abnormal at all. Armband and RNH score tonight.

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