Enemy Territory

Tuukka Rask, Shawn MatthiasThe Canucks are back in enemy territory as they get set to take on the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. These two clubs clashed a couple weeks ago in Vancouver with the Canucks running away with a 5-2 victory and tonight they will look to sweep the season series.

Ryan Miller is sidelined for 4-6 weeks at minimum which means Eddie Lack is the starter from this day forward. The Canucks recalled Jacob Markstrom from Utica (AHL) to serve as backup.

Nick Bonino was on the ice for practice this morning and skated on the second line alongside Radim Vrbata and Shawn Matthias. He will be a game time decision. Bonino has been out since February 9 when he was hit by a Ryan Suter slap shot. The injury woes continue as Alex Burrows has missed the last two games with a lower body injury. There are eight starters out of the lineup due to injury.

The Sedins are having a bounce back year and are proving they can still produce. They have already surpassed their point total last year and there are still 23 games remaining on the season.

The number one line will stay intact with Zack Kassian playing alongside the twins. The Kassian experiment has worked thus far with three goals over his last two games and six in his past eight.

Boston has a three-point lead over Florida for the final playoff spot in the East, while Vancouver is three points ahead of Los Angeles, Calgary and San Jose for second place in the Pacific Division.

Puck drop is set for 4pm.

 

 

 

Big Bad Bruins

bruinsThe Canucks (30-20-3) get set to host the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup in their own building during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.  I’d prefer we never mention the game seven disappointment but fans can’t help but reminisce when these two clubs meet.

Tonight marks the fourth time the rivals square off since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. It’s the second time the Bruins (28-19-4) are in Rogers Arena since the final. On a positive note the Canucks have won two of their last three meetings against the Bruins.

Former Bruins assistant GM, Jim Benning will face Boston for the time since he joined the Canucks as General Manager. Ryan Miller will get the start which will make it his 600th career NHL Game.

Newcomer Brandon McMillan did practice with the team but will not suit up. Head Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed that Nick Bonino is sidelined with a lower body injury but expects him to be back in the lineup soon.

Zack Kassian is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak and the Canucks are in the middle of their highest-scoring three-game stretch of the season registering 13 goals in their last three games.

The Canucks sit in seventh in the Western Conference with 63 points. The Flames are in eighth tied with the Canucks and the Kings are not far behind with 60 points in tenth place. The standings will constantly change for the remainder of the season and every point is crucial in pursuit of a playoff spot.

Following tonight’s tilt the Canucks travel to the Saddledome to take on the Flames Saturday night.

Puck drop is set for 7pm tonight.

 

 

 

Black Hawk Down

chiTonight the Canucks (29-20-3) will look to bounce back following a loss when they visit the Madhouse on Madison to take on the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks (33-18-3) are fourth in the Western Conference and lead the NHL in penalty killing with 87.5 percent. That’s a major advantage against a Canucks team that ranks 16th in the NHL on the power play with 18.2 percent.

After a lacklustre effort against the Wild the Canucks find themselves barely holding onto the eighth and final spot. With 61 points they sit just three points ahead of the 11th seed. If the goal is to make the playoffs then every point is crucial with only 29 games remaining in the regular season.

If recent history repeats itself then fans can be somewhat confident against the likes of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Canucks are 8-3-2 in their last 13 meetings with the Hawks and have outscored them 34-29. Do these numbers really make a difference? I tend to lean on the no side but whatever helps you sleep at night.

Tonight marks game two of an eight game home stand for the Blackhawks. The last time these two teams met the Canucks won 4-1 in Rogers Arena.

Ronald Kenins will step into the lineup and Adam Clendening will face his former team for the first time. Nick Bonino is sidelined with a lower body injury.

Eddie Lack will make his 50th career start in the NHL.

Puck drop is set for 5pm in the Windy City.

The Trio Reunite

BurrowsSedinsCanvas_0Tonight at Rogers Arena the Vancouver Canucks will rekindle a flame that had experienced so much success over the years. That flame was sparked by the Sedins and Alex Burrows, a trio that Canuck nation has become accustomed to from previous years. Tonight the Canucks will reunite the three in hopes of spreading the offence to the struggling second line.

John Tavares and the New York Islanders are in town to take on the Canucks in a rare match between the two clubs.  Eddie Lack celebrated his 27th birthday and will get the start between the pipes for the Canucks. His last win was a 3-0 shutout against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.  Jaroslav Halak will get the start for the Isles.

Radim Vrbata who has had the hot hand of late is moving to the second line to play alongside Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins. Vrbata has found the back of the net in three straight games and leads the squad with 16 goals.  The hope behind the switch is to trigger some offence for Bonino and Higgins and having Vrbata join the two should allow for more scoring opportunities. Bonino has one goal in his last 22 games after starting the season with seven in his first 14 as a Canuck.

When it comes to the Standings the Islanders are amongst the elite.  The Isles are third in the Eastern Conference with 53 points and are 7-2-1 in their last 10. In what may come as a surprise, the Isles share the NHL lead for wins with Chicago, Montreal and Anaheim at 26. When it comes to close games, the Isles are 17-2-1 in one-goal games, 4-0 in overtime and 6-1 in shootouts.  The Canucks on the other hand are in a four-way tie for fifth place. Sitting at 47 points the Canucks are two points behind the Blues for fourth but only two points ahead of the Flames at ninth.

The Canucks are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings and are 3-2 in their last five.  Expect the bottom six to stay the same with Zack Kassian on the third line with Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias. Jannik Hansen will drop to the fourth line alongside Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett.

Puck drop is set for 7pm.

Tune into Spice Sports for all the pre-game action.

 

Canucks host the Coyotes

canucksWith Christmas around the corner the Canucks will try to stock their stockings with another win against the Arizona Coyotes tonight at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks will look to put together a string of back-to-back wins, something they haven’t been able to do since early December.  The Coyotes are the second worst team in the Western Conference with 26 points but they seem to have the Canucks number. It wasn’t long ago when the Coyotes dominated the Canucks in a 5-0 win back on November 14 at Rogers Arena in their first matchup of the season.

Ryan Miller will get the start between the pipes after recording his 17th win of the season on Saturday. Jannik Hansen received medical clearance and will be in the lineup tonight. He collapsed on the bench on Saturday but fortunately, Hansen is good to go.

The Canucks had no problem putting the puck in the net when the season kicked off but that is no longer the case. The trio of Henrik Sedin, Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows have gone nine games without scoring, Linden Vey has not tallied a goal in 8 games and Daniel Sedin is scoreless in five games.

This list goes on…

Bo Horvat hasn’t found the back of the net in 12 games and Jannik Hansen has been on a drought since his hat-trick versus the Blackhawks.

On a positive note, The Canucks penalty killing unit is working,  going 10 for 10 in its past four games and is a whopping 23 for 24 (95.8%) in the month of December.

Following tonight’s tilt the Canucks will have a few days off before they go on a two game road trip. They will face Ryan Kesler and the Ducks on the 28th and then a visit to the Shark tank on the 30th to close out 2014.

Puck drop is set for 7pm tonight.

 

 

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