West Coast rage

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

It doesn't carry a catchy title, but the battles between the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks are becoming must-see TV.

For Oiler winger Joffrey Lupul, the Edmonton-Vancouver rivalry has actually surpassed the Battle of Alberta.

"It seems we got a bigger rivalry with Vancouver than there is with Calgary as far as the major games I can feel," said Lupul yesterday morning while unlacing his skates from practice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park.

"There is definitely some dislike there."

And Round 7 goes tonight at Rexall Place with some bad blood carrying over from Round 6 last week in Vancouver.

There were several big hits - like Matt Cooke cranking Steve Staios in the first period at GM Place - but the ugliest moment came courtesy of Willie Mitchell's stick.

Lupul practically tasted Mitchell's stick after a wicked check to the face in the second period.

"I just went to hit him and he got his stick up," said Lupul. "It is a dirty play and he is not a dirty player."

But don't expect a rash of stupid penalties from the Oilers if tonight's game becomes as physical as Lupul expects.

"I expect it to be another fun one (today)," said Lupul.

"But we are not in a position where we can go out and settle scores."

ALMOST READY: Recovering from an inflamed pubic bone, defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist participated in his first full practice in several weeks yesterday.

Paired with seventh defenceman Mathieu Roy for many drills, it doesn't appear Tjarnqvist will return tonight against Vancouver.

"I thought he had a ways to go before he is ready based on the way he practised (yesterday)," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.

"But we will make that assessment again (today)."

The 30-year-old has missed 14 of the last 15 games.

POWER OUTAGE: If the Oilers and Canucks hold true to form, the chances of a power-play goal tonight are somewhere between slim and none.

Vancouver enters the game with the No. 1 penalty-killing unit (88.7% efficiency) in the NHL, while Edmonton is second (87.5%).

Hammering the point home more, Edmonton and Vancouver combined to be 0-for-14 on the power play last Thursday at GM Place.

"We just work well as units of four on the ice," said Oiler captain Jason Smith. "Obviously, penalty killing comes from good goaltending and being in good position."

Like the forwards being directly in the shooting lanes from the point.

The Oilers have killed 13 of their last 14 short-handed situations.

FINISH LINES: Don't expect to see centre Patrick Thoresen in the lineup tonight. After taking a puck off the foot last week against the Canucks, the Oiler forward had a bright red jersey at practice yesterday, the same as injured forward Ethan Moreau ... With Thoresen and Jarret Stoll on the shelf, Petr Nedved will play his second straight game. "I felt pretty strong," he said of his effort against Colorado on Saturday. Sporting a -21 rating, Nedved had an assist on the Oilers' first goal, won 75% of his faceoffs and finished the game with an even rating.


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