December 18 2009 11:36AM
Ovi-mania hits Lotusland tonight
The Vancouver Canucks look to bounce back from a disappointing home loss as they host the league's most electric player tonight, as the Capitals come to town to take on the Canucks at GM Place.
The Canucks could have gutted out a valuable, important, spirit-lifting win against Anaheim on Wednesday night. But they didn't. They could have finally been in a playoff spot in te standings for the first time this season. But they didn't. They could have had their first 4-game winning streak of this year. But they didn't.
So they're still out of a playoff spot. They have no winning streak. They're back to square one. Just in time to face to face one of the hottest teams in the NHL and second in the Eastern Conference. Oh yeah, and they're facing some obscure, plucky Russian player in Alex Ovechkin (do I have that right?).
In the Canucks' favour, Vancouver is 6-1-0 against Eastern opponents this year, with their only loss coming against the league's worst team (Carolina Hurricanes). The Canucks also have a dominating record against the Capitals in recent years. Their last game against Ovechkin and the Caps was a 5-1 loss very early last season. Before that, the Canucks had won five in a row against Washington. In their last 10 meetings, spanning 11 years, the Canucks are 7-3 against the Capitals.
The Canucks need a win tonight to reclaim the momentum they had built up from the wonderful start to this pre-Christmas home stand. The Canucks do tend to play well against the better teams in the league, so there is promise. The Capitals also had their Rookie Dinner in Vancouver this week, and that usually leads to teams letting down their guard.
The Canucks need to stay out of the penalty box tonight. The Caps sport the league's best Power Play, and they do that because they draw a lot of penalties because of their overall team speed, and the fact that they a good number of snipers in their lineup.
There is no sense finding a key area of focus in trying to beat the Capitals. They are good at everything - literally. They are near or at the top of the league in almost every statistical category. GF, 5-5 GF/AA, PP, Leading after 1st or 2nd, Trailing after 1st, Faceoff %... it oes on and on. The ONLY two main stats where the Capitals aren't in the top 7 is GA and PK. Their GA is respectable, but the PK is terrible. So if their is one area to exploit, it might be their PK. But let's remember, the Canucks PK is only marginally better.
Good luck tonight, Canucks - you'll need it!