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.