Even with a current three-game skid, the Edmonton Oilers have looked much better under new Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. The Oilers are 9-5-2 under Hitchcock. The most significant improvement is on the defensive side of the puck. Before hiring Hitchcock, the Oilers were allowing 3.30 goals per game. In the 16 since the Oilers are allowing only 2.82 goals. If the Oilers allowed 2.82 goals all season, they would have a top-ten defence.
This young Vancouver Canucks team has managed to be surprisingly competitive this season (despite their youth and injuries). Even though they have only been a favourite in only three of their first 39 games, the Canucks enter the game against the Oilers, one point behind Edmonton for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. For such a competitive team this season, NHL betting lines on the Vancouver Canucks have offered a good return.
Despite it only being midseason in the NHL, this classic Pacific Division rivalry has plenty on the line on Thursday night. One point separates these two teams and a playoff spot, something few could have predicted 20 games ago.
The Oilers have been successful (especially at home) against the Canucks during the Connor McDavid era. The Oilers have a winning record when McDavid plays, while the Oilers superstar is averaging 1.14 points per game against Vancouver.
Still, the Oilers need depth to win a Stanley Cup (or at least the majority of their games). Depth is one advantage the Canucks have over the Oilers. Vancouver has ten players on their team with at least 14 points, compared to only six on Edmonton.