Oilers the priority for Canucks as Bruins await 0
Dec 9, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal (12) checks Vancouver Canucks forward Jeremy Welsh (13) during the second period at Rogers Arena. (Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)
Looking past the Edmonton Oilers Friday would seem like the subconscious thing to do for the Vancouver Canucks — especially with the Boston Bruins in town the next day.
But the team claims they aren't focusing on the much-hyped showdown against their 2011 Stanley Cup final foe, instead they are trying to extend their winning stretch against a lowly Pacific Division rival.
"Where we are in the standings, there's no way we are looking ahead," Daniel Sedin said Thursday. "We need the points and it's going to start with the game on Friday.
"It'll be a fun weekend."
Even so, it's the tilt against the Bruins many are gearing towards, considering it's their first visit to the city since June 15, 2011 — a game that ended in despair and disappointment for Canucks nation.
Boston came away with a 4-0 victory in Game 7, winning their sixth Stanley Cup and ending a heated series between two teams who rarely see each other.
The match also sparked a post-game riot downtown — a dark mark on this city and a memorable night in the most negative of ways.
But it's been more than two years since that incident, so expect added excitement for this Saturday night showdown. And, despite the amount of time passed since, don't be surprised to see the animosity boil over again.
The two sides have faced each other just once since the Cup final, in a game where the Canucks prevailed 4-3 in Boston on Jan. 7, 2012. Forward Cody Hodgson and goalie Cory Schneider — both no longer with the Canucks — were the difference makers for Vancouver, one scoring the winner and the other making 36 saves in the win.
The game was also marred by a feisty first period, including a line brawl just 3:54 into the match.
In the end, the teams accumulated 107 penalty minutes overall, including four misconducts and four fighting majors.
Then, there's also the Roberto Luongo factor as the goalie didn't play in that meeting and hasn’t faced the Bruins since the heated final.
Having a been a hot topic throughout that series, the Canucks netminder isn't looking ahead to the game, much like the rest of his team, and will first get the start Friday against the Oilers.
"I don't want to look past Edmonton," Luongo said. "After (Friday) night, then we'll move on.
"Maybe for some people, it's a bigger game than others but it's just another NHL game and we want to win every game that we play, that goes without saying."
The task at hand is the Oilers, who faced the Bruins Thursday. Prior to the game, Edmonton sat last in the Western Conference, just one point below the Calgary Flames, while Boston led the East.
It gives the Canucks, who had three full days off between games, an opportunity to extend their longest winning streak of the season — currently at five after winning the first three games of their five-game homestand.
"We need the two points right now, we're still climbing the standings," defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. "We've got a pretty good thing going here the last five, six games, so you don't want to give two points away. It doesn't matter where the team is in the standings."
Notes: Canucks forward Tom Sestito, who was not at practice Thursday, is still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Zack Kassian, who broke Oilers forward Sam Gagner's jaw in pre-season and received a five-games suspension for his discretions, knows there will be added attention on him Friday. But he's not worrying.
"It's not going to bother me," he said. "We'll see what happens."