SUN Hockey Pool

Just like playoffs

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Consider it a playoff series.

When the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks hook up for three straight games this week, it'll be the closest thing to post-season hockey.

And if things go really bad for one team, there may not be a post-season.

"These next few games coming up are big games. Every point is crucial in the standings right now," said Oilers forward Fernando Pisani.

"It's like a playoff game. These next three games are going to be playoff-atmosphere games. We know it and they know it, and we're going to have to play our best hockey."

Tomorrow night, the Oilers play host to the Canucks (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place. On Thursday they'll do it again in Vancouver. And for good measure the two meet again in Vancouver on Saturday.

It's a rare situation to play the same team three times successively, but it's one that shows up in the NHL now and again.

"Nope, I've never been in this situation," said Oilers forward Ethan Moreau.

"We see them a lot. You can prepare a little more and can have a better game plan, because it's kind of like a miniseries.

"It'll be a little different, but it'll be a good matchup. We always match up well against them."

Actually, the Oilers have owned the Canucks this season.

They have won all five meetings against their West Coast rivals this season - one by way of a shootout and another coming in overtime.

All the games have been close. The biggest margin of victory for the Oilers has been two goals, something they've been able to do twice.

"We're confident, we've got a good game plan against them, but at the same time we know how dangerous they are," Moreau said.

"They have two lines that are very powerful and we have to pay extra attention to them."

The teams are separated by one point in the standings.

However, the Canucks fell out of a playoff spot after losing 7-3 to the Detroit Red Wings yesterday.

"If there is a possible sweep out there either way, it's going to make a huge difference in the standings," Moreau said.

"We just have to play solid, keep doing what we're doing. We feel confident that with our team, if we play our game, we're going to be OK."

Neither team has been particularly consistent heading into the three-game series.

Both are hovering around the .500 mark in their last 10 games. However, while the Canucks are sliding down the standings, the Oilers are slowly trying to climb their way up.

"We can't get too confident because they have a good hockey team over there," Pisani said. "We just have to play the way we've been playing, which is to go out there and try to establish a good forecheck."


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