EDMONTON, Alberta — The Vancouver Canucks have lost five games in a row. They’ve given up an alarming 17 goals over the last four games.
Now, the Canucks have to go to Rogers Place on Saturday night to face an Edmonton Oilers team that has made filling the net look easy of late. The Oilers have scored 14 times over their last two games.
The Canucks are reeling and Edmonton is scoring — this matchup has the feeling of the 1980s, when the Oilers would regularly put up huge offensive numbers against the Canucks, when guys like Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mark Messier were skating in orange and blue jerseys.
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The Oilers beat Dallas 7-1 on Tuesday and Boston 7-4 on Thursday. Both big wins came right after Edmonton went through a three-game stretch in which it scored four goals. The Oilers went from goal drought to goal glut pretty quickly.
So, Edmonton coach Todd McLellan knows that the goals can come, and they can go.
“It gets guys thinking they haven’t lost their touch,” said McLellan. “It reassures them that they’re still doing things the right way offensively. But it’s also an awareness of our group to park that game right now.
“We talked about that after the Dallas game — park it and move on. This one, another seven-goal game, we’ll park it and move on. But, the confidence level from an offensive perspective should be a little higher now than it was a week ago for a number of players.”
Oilers left winger Patrick Maroon, who has four points over the last two games, said that the offensive outburst is nice, but everyone on the team also needs to be thinking about team defense. Scoring goals like Edmonton has of late isn’t going to last, and the team has got to be ready to win a 2-1 or a 1-0 game, as well.
“The goal is to prevent getting scored on, too,” Maroon said. “We can’t be giving up three, four goals a night, too. (Scoring) is not going to happen every night. It’s good for us, but, right now, we’ve got to focus on the defense part, too.
Canucks right winger Nikolay Goldobin is not making the trip to Edmonton. He’s ill and has lost 15 pounds since he last played March 7. Defenseman Christopher Tanev, who had the mumps and then a bout of food poisoning, was healthy enough to make the trip.
Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom hasn’t played since Feb. 15 because of a lower-body injury, but coach Willie Desjardins said the team is hopeful that Markstrom will play again before the end of the season.
Of course, that means Ryan Miller has seen a lot of action. But Desjardins isn’t concerned about Miller’s workload. Richard Bachman, who was brought in to deputize Miller after Markstrom went down, has appeared in just one game.
“If we had Markstrom here, (Miller) wouldn’t be playing as much, for sure,” said Desjardins. “But he’s played good, we’ve had time between games. I think a lot of starters would go through with that schedule … you look at (Montreal starter Carey) Price, you look at those guys, they play that all the time.”
Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, who has endured a disappointing season with just 38 points in 70 games, said the team simply has to find some ways to score some ugly goals.
“We’ve got to find a way to score some dirty goals and get some more power plays too, I think. We’re getting one or two a game, and that’s not good enough.”