Hmmm… Where was this Alex Burrows earlier this season? With a couple more goals last night, Burr now has 5 goals in 3 games.
Silver lining, I suppose, amidst the Canucks’ pretty much closed playoff window.
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
Vancouver Canucks (23-11-7)
Tampa Bay Lightning (23-12-4)
The Vancouver Canucks ended 2013 with an impressive 10-1-2 December record. They hope to keep rolling in 2014, but their January schedule gets considerably tougher. Tonight, they’ll meet the Tampa Bay Lightning, who currently sits in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. Afterwards, they have the Los Angeles Kings (twice), Anaheim Ducks (twice), Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes (twice) and Chicago Blackhawks, among others, on tap.
The Lightning look to get back to their winning ways to start 2014. They’re coming off consecutive losses after going on a season-high 5-game win streak. The Lightning have won their last 3 road games.
This is the first of two meetings between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vancouver Canucks. They last met on January 10th, 2012 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum; the Canucks won 5-4 in a shootout.
Jannik Hansen seems to be getting the hang of playing with the Sedins. He’s now scored in back-to-back games, and has 5 goals in his last 9 games.
For the Lightning, forward Valtteri Filppula has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in his last 4 games.
Both the Canucks and Lightning are missing quite a few star players.
The Canucks are still without defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) and forwards Jordan Schroeder (ankle) and Alexandre Burrows (jaw) who are all on injured reserve. Defenseman Ryan Stanton (ankle) is out indefinitely. Goaltender Roberto Luongo is day-to-day with a lower body injury.
For the Lightning, forwards Steven Stamkos (leg) and Ryan Malone (ankle), and defenseman Keith Aulie (hand) are all on injured reserve. Defensemen Eric Brewer (arm) and Sami Salo (upper body) are both day-to-day.
On one end of the rink was Steve Mason, whose career the entire NHL, save the Philadelphia Flyers, had left for dead. Much was made about his past poor performances, especially against the Canucks, seemingly forgetting that he’s actually been pretty damn good during the Flyers’ 15-6-4 surge prior to last night’s game.
On the other end was Tom Sestito, who was waived by those very same Flyers last season and then claimed by the Canucks, and has served as some sort of a whipping boy to Canucks fans ever since.
Both Mason and Sestito had lots to prove. And both delivered.
Mason stopped 41 of 44 shots, plus another 3 in the shootout, to keep his team in the game. Sestito scored a goal and was a pain in Philly’s side for most of the 5:45 minutes he was on the ice.
John Garrett just gave sestito more love in 10 seconds than the entire twitter #tgatt crew ever has
— Clay B (@twitchy67) December 31, 2013
Guilty as charged.
Already with a 10-1-1 record this month, it’s shaping out to be a December to remember for the Vancouver Canucks. They have a chance to add to that as they meet the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Rogers Arena, where the Canucks have won all 6 home games this month. This is the Flyers’ first visit to Vancouver in three years.
Tonight will be the second and final regular season meeting for the Canucks and Flyers. In their first game back on October 15th at the Wells Fargo Center, the Canucks rallied back from a 2-1 third period deficit to win by a 3-2 score. Chris Higgins tied the game early in the third period, and Ryan Kesler scored the game-winning goal with only 2:25 left in the game.
However, that Flyers team in October was on the verge of the worst losing streak in franchise history. They started the season winning just 3 of their first 12 games (3-9-0), but since then, they’ve gone 15-6-4, including a 5-1-1 record in their last 7 games. The Flyers are coming off a couple of consecutive wins: a come-from-behind, 4-3 shootout win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, and a 4-1 win versus the Minnesota Wild before the Christmas break.
Similarly, the Canucks are coming off a big win in Calgary last night in their first game after the Christmas break. With Roberto Luongo still nursing a sore groin, Eddie Lack made 18 saves and posted his 2nd shutout of the season to give the Canucks the 2-0 win.
This is the Canucks’ 5th set of back-to-backs in December alone. Perhaps surprisingly, they’ve won the back half of the first 4 sets so far. (They were 2-2 in the back half of back-to-backs earlier in the season.) Coach John Tortorella had been rotating Luongo and Lack during back-to-backs, but with Luongo’s injury and after Lack’s relatively easy night last night, I’d expect the Canucks to go back to him than go to back-up rookie, Joacim Eriksson.
Including his pinch-hit performances against the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets, Lack has stopped 124 of 129 shots he’s faced in December – a 0.961 save percentage. He’s won 5 straight games, including 2 this month at Rogers Arena in front of a friendly Vancity crowd.
With his game-winning goal last night, Jannik Hansen now has 3 goals in his last 6 games.
Coinciding with the Flyers’ slow start, Claude Giroux only had 6 assists in his first 13 games this season. He’s busted out since though with 29 points in his last 25 games, including 15 points (5 goals and 10 assists) in an active 8-game point streak.
Wayne Simmonds has also been quietly putting together another good season. He has 9 points (7 goals and 2 assists) in an active 5-game point streak, and has potted 2 goals in each of his last 3 games.
The Flyers scored 3 PP goals against the Oilers on Saturday so expect Torts to really drill into the Canucks the importance of staying out of the box.
The Canucks keep winning, but last night, they lost yet another player to injury last night. Following a Brian McGrattan hit, Andrew Alberts left with a suspected concussion and did not return. He joins Roberto Luongo, Alex Edler, Ryan Stanton, Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder on the sidelines.
The Flyers are without Erik Gustafsson, who is on injured reserve with a knee injury.
No Luongo? No problem.
For the second time in his last 3 starts, Eddie Lack recorded a shutout as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 in Calgary. For the season, he now has a 7-2-0 record, a 1.74 GAA (3rd in the NHL) and 0.933 save percentage (6th in the NHL).
— Elmee Baterina (@elmeebaterina) December 30, 2013
That sound you hear is another goaltender controversy slowly growing because, you know, that’s what we Canucks fans do.
You love when the Canucks score them but hate when they give them up. Those fluky goals that can pop up out of nowhere and change the momentum of the game at the drop of a helmet. These goals are bizarre but admittedly entertaining. Canucks fans have been “entertained” by them early and often so far this season with a number of bizarre goals going in already before the Olympic break. Coach John Tortorella has remained adamant that these moments even out over the course of an 82-game season but if that’s the case I think the Canucks may have already used all theirs up. It’s only December and we can already compile a list of wacky Canucks-related goals from this season!
Here are the top 5 bizarre Canucks-related goals from the 2013-2014 season thus far:
5) Alexander Edler – In an afternoon game Edler uses his booming slapshot to snipe a beauty from center ice….just kidding! Fleury bobbles it BIG TIME. We’re used to seeing Fleury lose the puck though (World Juniors anyone?).
4) Ryan Kesler- A goalie’s nightmare, but a player’s fantasy. In a game against Philly, Ryan Kesler gobbles up a lucky bounce and distributes it into the yawning cage with ease.
3) Joe Thornton on Roberto Luongo – “Once it got on top of the net I was like: Oh S***! What’s going on here?”- Roberto Luongo on this insane bounce from a Jumbo Joe dump in.
2) Jannik Hansen – A recent goal from a memorable game this Jannik Hansen snipe looks more like an R.A. Dickey knuckleball then a slapshot. It helped shake up the confidence of Bruins goalie Tukka Rask and got the Canucks off to a good start against their Arch-rivals.
1) Lars Eller on Roberto Luongo via Dan Hamhuis – This was one fans hated. Not only was it completely avoidable but it led to a weak third period and an eventual loss. Still, it’s hard not to smirk at Lou’s stance as he carefully looks for the puck between his own legs.
As far as rivalry matches go, you couldn’t ask for much more. Roberto Luongo was great. Tuukka Rask wasn’t. Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli were in beast mode. Milan Lucic wasn’t. The Sedins didn’t back down. Brad Marchand was being a dick. As usual. David Booth scored on a helluva snipe of a shot. Chris Tanev scored. Shorthanded, no less. But most importantly, in the Boston Bruins’ first visit to Rogers Arena since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks won. And won in convincing fashion.
— Jay Jones (@BARJONESING) December 15, 2013
Another game, another loss. With their 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers (!), the Vancouver Canucks have now lost 5 games in a row for the first time in nearly 5 years.
The good news is, they scored more than a single goal in a game for the first time in almost 2 weeks. And Roberto Luongo again had a solid game, stopping 34 of 36 shots in regulation and 2 of 3 Panthers in the shootout. But the Canucks’ offensive woes extended into the shootout, and again, no Canucks shooter was able to beat Tim Thomas mano-a-mano; in 4 games that went to the shootout this season, they’ve only scored on 2 of 15 shootout attempts.
This team is built for the postseason: the time of year when games are not decided by shootouts. #TGATT
— Sedinitronic (@sedinitronic) November 20, 2013
Yeah, sure, let’s go with that.