Formerly bonded by the Western Conference, the Canucks look to take on the struggling Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7:30 PM. The Red Wings, having won only 6 of their last 12 games, seem like easy pickings for the Canucks. However, the Red Wings won 2 of 3 games in the season series last season and outscored the Canucks 14-7. Detroit is in for a ride with the always interesting, Tortorella-driven team, the Canucks will get the early lead tonight in Vancouver. (Power of suggestion works right?).
What to watch
The scoreboard. The Canucks have gotten into an anxiety-inducing habit of having to come from behind in the third period. Maybe scoring an early goal or two and maintaining a lead can help lot of premature heart attacks
Also keep an eye on the penalty box. The referees have made a few Canuck-deprecating calls so keeping momentum through those times will be key. The Red Wings’ powerplay ranks 11th in the NHL, clicking at 21.6%.
Who to watch
The Sedins against “brothers from another mother” Bertuzzi and Datsyuk. These first liners will match up their points against one another in the ultimate battle of “No I can do it better!”. Don’t let Bertuzzi and Datsyuk bully you Sedins, your mom has done only admirable things.
The Red Wings have moved their lines quite a bit, but seem to have settled with Datsyuk playing with Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg, while Daniel Alfredsson will start on the second line with Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary. Alfredsson currently leads the team with 8 assists. Both lines will cause trouble so this would be a good time for Kassian to activate “brick wall” mode and match their physicality.
For the Canucks, Ryan Kesler looks to extend his 5-game point streak. Now 3rd on the team in scoring (8 goals, 5 assists and 13 points) after a slow start, he’s played really well with the Hank and Dank, and their skill and his speed certainly complement each other. Kesler has never failed to impress in random bouts but consistency is what they need most from him.
The Wings have a few players out some with injuries. Johan Franzen is out with an undisclosed injury. Red Wings GM Ken Holland says odds are hopeful Franzen will be good for Friday’s game against Calgary, but the Canucks will not see him tonight. Darren Helm is out with back and groin injuries, Patrick Eaves is out with a leg injury, and their no. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard won’t be in net because of an upper body injury. The Wings’ healthy scratches include former Canuck Mikael Samuelsson, Brendan Smith and youngster Tomas Tatar.
The Canucks have been plagued with injuries as well. Jordan Schroeder is out 2 more months with an ankle injury, Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen are both out for 3-4 weeks, and David Booth is out for 1-2 more weeks.