Can we at least beat the Leafs on Saturday night?
— Ashley Pothiboon (@ashleyspinellii) February 6, 2014
Man, these losses seem to be getting more depressing by the day.
After taking a quick 2-0 lead on the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blackhawks scored 4 unanswered goals in a 7-minute span in the second period. The end result? Another loss – the Canucks’ 10th loss in January versus just 3 wins.
But hey, at least Tom Sestito scored again.
— Sean Holmes-Smith (@holmes156) January 29, 2014
The Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks usually bring the best out of each other. That’s hopefully the case tonight.
The fact is, neither team is playing their best hockey right now. The Canucks’ woes are well-documented, having lost 10 of their last 14 games, including a disheartening 4-2 loss to the last place Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, after dropping a 5-4 decision in OT to the Calgary Flames last night, have now lost 4 games in a row. They’ve also lost 6 of their last 7 road games (1-1-5), though despite that, the Blackhawks are still a top-3 team in the league and still lead the league in scoring (3.44 goals per game).
If the Canucks want to exploit anything, it’s that the Blackhawks are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, and their 5th game in 8 nights. I guess that’s something.
With Henrik Sedin still out, and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler snake-bitten, the Canucks have had to rely on everyone else to provide their offence. After returning from a lengthy stay on IR, Jordan Schroeder returned on Monday against the Oilers and scored both Canucks goals that night. Kevin Bieksa has also stepped up with 3 points in his past 2 games, including 2 goals – and the game-winning OT goal – against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday. Ditto Chris Higgins, who also had 3 points against the Coyotes.
For the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa scored twice last night against the Flames and has 4 goals in his past 5 games. Patrick Kane, who also scored last night, has 4 points in 3 games, and he currently sits 4th in the NHL in scoring (60 points).
The Blackhawks have a healthy roster except for their backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is out with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
For the Canucks, Hank is still out as are Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts. Tonight will be game 5 of John Tortorella’s suspension – he’ll miss 6 games while serving his 15-game suspension – and hopefully he’s relaxing in Hawaii or something.
Vancouver Canucks (27-17-9)
Edmonton Oilers (16-32-6)
For the fourth time this season, and the second time in just six days, the Vancouver Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks won all three previous games (6-2, 4-0 and most recently, 2-1).
After Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win for the Canucks, they’re looking to keep the momentum going and start a new winning steak. However, the Oilers are looking to start a new winning streak of their own. On Sunday, the Oilers ended a six-game winless streak as they beat the Nashville Predators 5-1.
As we all know, the Vancouver Canucks have experienced trouble scoring goals lately, but they sure didn’t have any problem on Sunday.
Kevin Bieksa scored twice, including the game winner in overtime, to lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory over the Coyotes.
Chris Higgins helped lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory with one goal and two assist. He now has two goals and two assist in the past two games.
For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle extended his point streak to five games on Sunday (four goals, two assist).
Henrik Sedin (ribs) is still day-to-day. Forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are on injured reserve. Jordan Schroeder, who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury, will not play tonight, but did start his conditioning assignment with the Utica Comets.
The Oilers are likely without defensemen Philip Larsen (illness) Andrew Ference (upper body), along with forward Ales Hemsky (ankle).
The Canucks scored 5 goals last night. 8 if you count the ones they scored in their own net. But hey, at least the Canucks won, and in doing so, they extended their lead on the Phoenix Coyotes for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference to 5 points.
— Roxy (@RmystiQue78) January 26, 2014
8 goals in 7 games.
After losing 2-1 at home to the Nashville Predators last night, the Canucks have now scored just 8 goals in 7 games, and have lost 9 of their last 12 games.
— Roxy (@RmystiQue78) January 23, 2014
Poooofftt is right.
Vancouver Canucks (24-13-9)
Los Angeles Kings (3-6-1)
If the Canucks were hoping for a quick re-do of their horrendous trip to SoCal the other weekend – a weekend in which they lost both games to the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings and outshot by a 98-48 margin – well, they get their wish. This week, the Canucks will embark on a 3 games in 4 nights road trip, starting in Los Angeles tonight and Anaheim tomorrow, before finishing up in the desert in Phoenix on Thursday.
The Kings are 3-0-0 against the Canucks this season. But if there’s a silver lining of sorts here, the Canucks are still within striking distance, and in fact, a win tonight will see them leapfrog the Kings and take over third place in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks are getting healthier too with Alex Edler is back in the lineup tonight. Also, while Eddie Lack is again getting the start, Roberto Luongo is traveling with the team, a sure sign he is close to returning. Up front, Alex Burrows is expected back on Saturday when they play the Calgary Flames back at Rogers Arena.
For the Canucks, Henrik Sedin has 5 assists in his last 4 games, Daniel Sedin has 4 assists in his last 4 games, and Chris Higgins has 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in his last 4 games.
For the Kings, Mike Richards has points in consecutive games, Anze Kopitar has 3 assists in his last 4 games, and Jeff Carter has 4 points (3 goals and 1 assist) in his last 4 games.
Ryan Kesler only has 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist) in his last 11 games.
It goes without saying that the Canucks are having a lacklustre start to 2014. They’ve lost 5 games in a row, blowing leads in all of them, and prompting coach John Tortorella to question his team’s mental toughness. They’ll need to get tough real fast as they take on the streaking St.Louis Blues at home at Rogers Arena before heading on the road for another 3-game jaunt through the Pacific Division. The Blues are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games, a span in which they’ve outscored their opponents 41-17.
Tonight will be the second meeting between the two teams. Their last meeting was back on October 25th in St. Louis, where, thanks to some stellar goaltending by Eddie Lack and an overtime goal from Ryan Kesler, the Canucks came away with the 2 points. Since that meeting, however, the Blues have gone 26-6-3 and have surpassed the Chicago Blackhawks for top spot in the Central Division and have come within 4 points of the Anaheim Ducks, with 3 games in hand, for top spot in the Western Conference.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Canucks come out tonight after a roller coaster of a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. They gave up the first 2 goals of the game to the high-powered Pens, but then struck for 4 unanswered goals, including 3 in the third period, before surrendering 2 goals in 16 seconds with 71 seconds remaining on the clock, en route to a 5-4 shootout loss. They’ve had a couple of days to stew over the loss so we’ll see how they respond.
With Henrik Sedin obviously nursing an injury, Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian have stepped up to the plate, contributing a couple of points each in their last game. Kassian was particularly impressive, his goal and his assist on Higgins’ goal showcasing the mix of speed, size and hands that the Canucks coveted when they acquired him for Cody Hodgson.
Brian Elliot is expected to start since Jaroslav Halak played last night in the Blues’ win against the Calgary Flames. Elliot has won 7 consecutive starts with .926% SV and a 1.86 GAA. Team Canada defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, has 7 points in 4 games.
The Canucks are still without Roberto Luongo, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Stanton and Andrew Alberts. Burrows and Edler skated with the team yesterday, but neither is expected back tonight. Luongo should be back next week.
The Blues are missing leading scorer, Alex Steen, due to a concussion. Defenseman Roman Polak is also out with an ankle injury.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s admirable that the Canucks fought back from a 2-goal deficit against the high-powered Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s likewise impressive that they scored 4 consecutive goals, the last 2 within a 17-second span in the third period to take a 2-goal lead of their own. What sucks is that they blew a lead late – again. They allowed the Pens to tie the game late – 2 goals in 16 seconds with a minute left in the third period to be precise – and proceeded to lose 5-4 in the shootout.
The Canucks have now lost 5 consecutive games. In 4 of those games, they carried a lead into the third period. In 3 of those games, they had the lead with less than 2 minutes left.
The holidays were kind to the Canucks. Well, kind of. Not only did they post a 9-1-1 record going into the holiday break, they then had six days off to rest and recuperate. But also, in their last game on December 22nd, a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Canucks lost Roberto Luongo to a suspected groin injury. For now, Lu’s status remains day-to-day, and in his absence, the Canucks will lean on rookies Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson, and their combined 11 games of NHL experience – all Lack’s.
Tonight, Lack will be returning to the Saddledome where he had his first career start. With a 1.93 GAA (6th in the NHL) a .929 save-percentage (8th in the NHL), and a 6-2-0 record, including wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, Lack has been more than solid in relief. Backing up Lack is another Swede, Joacim Eriksson, who was called up from the Utica Comets. Eriksson brings an 8-10-1 record, 2.77 GAA and .907 save percentage from Utica; he had won his last 4 games with the Comets.
The Calgary Flames’ goaltending situation is less certain. Neither Reto Berra and Karri Ramo have seized the starting goaltender’s gig left available by Mikka Kiprusoff’s retirement. Both have identical .904% save percentages and both are allowing just under 3 goals per game.
The Flames have won only once in their last 6 games.
Tonight’s starter, Berra, hasn’t won 2 consecutive games all season, though he did play well in his last 2 starts, stopping 32 of 35 shots in beating the St. Louis Blues in a shootout a week ago, and then stopping 26 of 27 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday. He’s won 2 of his last 5 starts, and has a 1.97 GAA in that span.
So far in December, Ryan Kesler has 4 game-winning goals, including the shootout winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Canucks’ second-last game before Christmas.
Kes’ linemates have been equally hot. Mike Santorelli has 12 points in his last 13 games, and Chris Higgins has 9 points in his last 11 games.
Add Roberto Luongo to the list of injured Canucks; he is day-to-day with a suspected groin injury. Defensemen Ryan Stanton and Alex Edler, and forwards Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder are all still out as well.
For the Flames, defensemen Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman are both out, and forward Curtis Glencross continues to nurse an ankle injury.