Oilers vs. Canucks injury news ahead of Game 1 in Vancouver

As the Oilers and Canucks prepare to face off in their all-Canadian second round playoff matchup, we look at all the latest injury updates for both teams.
Edmonton Oilers v Columbus Blue Jackets
Edmonton Oilers v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The Edmonton Oilers have not played for a week, which must seem like a lifetime to certain segments of the fan base. However, game day is finally here again, as the team prepares to face the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night, in game one of their second round best-of-seven playoff series.

There are of course plenty of storylines and factors to consider, in the all-Canadian, Pacific Division matchup which will determine who advances to the Western Conference final. This includes the health of both teams.

Starting with the Oilers, the biggest -- and only -- concerns are the injury situations of both Adam Henrique and Evander Kane, who both missed practice over the weekend and again on Monday. The updates are mixed, ahead of puck drop at 8 p.m. MT at Rogers Arena.

One negative and one positive for the Oilers

Starting with the negative, Adam Henrique is now doubtful to play in game one, after Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch had previously continually said he would be ready to go. However, even with an extra day to rest and recover, the forward has now been listed as day-to-day.

Henrique has been dealing with an ankle injury, which he suffered during the Oilers' series-clinching 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings in round one. Technically Knoblauch has not ruled him out for game one in Vancouver, but the reality is he won't be suiting up on Wednesday night.

Of course the loss of Henrique is a tough blow for the Oilers, with him settling in nicely since he arrived in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks. The question is, who will replace him on the first line alongside Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman?

The answer is likely Mattias Janmark, with him playing with McDavid and Hyman during practice in the absence of Henrique. Asked about Janmark by the media following practice on Tuesday prior to flying out to Vancouver, Knoblauch said: "I think Janmark's the guy everyone likes to play with. He's responsible, he can make the next play, (and) he's good with the puck.

At the same time though, the responsibility won't just fall on Janmark. Knoblauch added: "I think it will be a little more by committee. Janmark will definitely be there for some shifts, but whoever's playing well, moving up and down (will be in there). Obviously Janmark is a huge part of our penalty kill, we need to make sure he's fresh and ready for that. We've got a lot of guys who we think can move up and play there periodically."

On the more positive side, Kane will be ready to go, after taking part in practice on Tuesday. In the case of him, it has always been more about giving him as much rest as possible, after recently confirming he has been dealing with a sports hernia for the majority of this season.

When considering this, it actually makes the 32-year-old's production during the 2023-24 campaign more impressive. He contributed three points during the Kings series and overall played some of his best hockey of the season.

Also speaking to the media on Tuesday after practice, Kane discussed the value of maintenance days and time off following the conclusion of the Oilers' first round series. He said: "It was valuable for me. I think the more time we had (between games), it was great for a bunch of guys. At the same time, guys want to get going. I would like to play a few days ago myself, but we'll take the time as it comes and get ready for tomorrow night."

During practice on Tuesday, Kane played alongside Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the second line which, as per The Athletic's Daniel Nugent-Bowman, is the expected lineup for game one. This is something to keep an eye on, just because Kane and Draisaitl have struggled at certain times to build a productive chemistry when playing together this season.

Canucks still without their Vezina Trophy finalist

As for the Canucks, the key absence continues to be Thatcher Demko. He hasn't played, since suffering a knee injury near the conclusion of game one versus the Nashville Predators in the first round.

Don't expect Demko to return any time soon either, with Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff advising on Tuesday that the goalie will be out through at least game four. His earliest possible return is game five, but according to Seravalli, even this is pushing it.

In one respect, to not have a Vezina Trophy finalist between the pipes is a tough blow for the Canucks. At the same time however, coach Rick Tocchet's team has been just fine in goal without him, at least up to this point of the playoffs.

Casey DeSmith is 1-1-0 in two playoff starts, in the process producing a .911 save percentage and 2.02 Goals Against Average (GAA). However, the real story for the Canucks has been the play of Arturs Silovs, who is 2-1-0 in three starts, with a .938 save percentage and 1.70 GAA.

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Overall, the Oilers remain favourites to advance despite losing the season series 4-0-0, by virtue of having the better overall roster - injuries or not. However, the Canucks have been underestimated all season long, while continuing to find ways to win when it matters; this should be an extremely interesting and close series between the two Canadian rivals.

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