Friday, March 21, 2008
Canucks set sights on first, Oilers prepare for the worst
It was a divisional game that had been anticipated in Edmonton for the last couple of days, the suddenly resilient Oilers had been making a bit of a run towards the playoffs, while the Canucks were struggling and hearing the anxious commentaries from the Vancouver hockey chorus.
An Oiler win would move them ever closer to a playoff spot, while a Canuck loss would set off a new round of speculation in Vancouver as to how the wheels fell off the cart this time.
Thursday night, the Canuck fans could put thoughts of failure behind them for one night as the Vancouver squad went into Edmonton and took charge of the hard hitting showdown.
In a first period that seemed to increase the tension shift by shift, the two teams showed no hesitation to try and get their message across that it would be a physical match. The Oilers buoyed by their 10 wins over 12 games record of late, put on a solid effort, but were stymied by the usual Luongo shutdown, frustrated on the power play the Oilers couldn’t come up with the points necessary to reverse the Canucks 4-1 victory.
The loss, will be viewed as a costly one, prior to the game the Oilers were five points out of a playoff spot and looking ready to make things interesting, with the loss the Oilers lost an opportunity to close the gap with the Avalanche and with but seven games to play time is running out on a remarkable reversal of fortune on the year.
For Vancouver the win, besides rewarding Luongo for his stellar play, will propel them to within striking distance of first place in the Northwest, a goal they can grab back on Friday night with a victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild.
With the season down to the last few games now, each one takes on more importance than the last, and in the very crowded Western division one or two mis steps can prove to be very costly.
National Post--Canucks deal blow to Oilers' playoff hopes
Vancouver Sun--Race for top spot resurrected
Vancouver Province--This win never in doubt
Edmonton Journal--Crucial loss
Edmonton Sun--Golden goose gone
Photo from National Post website