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7 players to watch as Canucks aim to flummox Oilers

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The Vancouver Canucks can double the Edmonton Oilers' deficit Friday in Game 2 of their second-round playoff clash. How these key players perform throughout the series will shape the final result.

J.T. Miller: Vancouver's offensive and spiritual leader said, then proved, that he savors the intensity of the postseason. Several Canucks are dynamic talents, but Miller - a 100-point, rough-and-tumble, defensively attentive center - drives the bus. His sweet tip incited Edmonton's Game 1 meltdown. Vancouver has quieted the Predators' and Oilers' top forward lines when Miller has been on the ice to shadow them.

Connor McDavid: The Hart Trophy finalist lacked burst in Game 1 and consistently failed to gain a step on Miller or Vancouver's tall, rangy, physical defensemen. McDavid didn't put a shot on net for just the 19th time in 700 NHL appearances (regular or postseason), per Stathead. For McDavid to dominate without firing the puck, his stickhandling has to mesmerize the defense and open passing lanes.

Arturs Silovs: Thatcher Demko's injury didn't sink the Canucks in the Nashville matchup because Silovs and Casey DeSmith authored a joint .928 save percentage. It still feels precarious to deploy a fledgling rookie against McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. To help Silovs in Game 1, Vancouver battened the hatches, crowded the neutral and defensive zones, and held Edmonton to 18 shots, including none for 23 minutes as the lead changed hands.

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Evander Kane: The 15-year vet has shown he can score in bunches and pelt the net with shots. Kane recorded five multi-goal playoff games in 2022, and his 3.33 shots per night rank third on the Oilers this spring. His chips off the boards during zone entries have led to goals in Edmonton's last two games. He's quick, creative, and capable of sparking offense when it's sorely needed.

Elias Lindholm: The disruptive Lindholm line - Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland flank him - netted three goals in both Canucks series openers. Lindholm made that possible by winning faceoffs, forechecking doggedly, and skating to the crease. The January acquisition has bought time for Elias Pettersson, who remains goalless on 11 shots through seven playoff games, to awake from his slumber.

Evan Bouchard: The dismal series debut of the Cody Ceci-Darnell Nurse pairing - which was next to the puck on four Canucks goals - puts pressure on Bouchard to be steady. Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm have allowed half as many dangerous shot attempts in the playoffs as Ceci and Nurse, per Natural Stat Trick. On the power play, Bouchard's forceful slapper could begin to trouble Silovs if the Oilers can draw more than one penalty.

Tyler Myers: The Canucks ask Myers and Carson Soucy to defend intimidating lines, be it Ryan O'Reilly's or McDavid's trio. Despite conceding good looks, they've only been scored on twice in the playoffs, including when Myers let Zach Hyman waltz to the faceoff dot to beat Silovs five-hole. Vancouver's defense hums when Myers douses more fires than he creates and Quinn Hughes and Nikita Zadorov race up ice to produce points.

Nick Faris is a features writer at theScore.

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