December 01 2010 11:53AM
Game Day Recon #23 - Canucks @ Flames
In recent years, games between the Flames and the Canucks were meaningful, emotional battles that were must-see TV. This season, with the Flames struggling, the battle has lost some of its lustre but there is no doubt that these two teams simply DO NOT like each other. And given that this is their first meeting of the year, both teams will be looking to come out flying.
That has all the makings of a really good tilt.
The Vancouver Canucks have had fun feasting on their divisional foes so far this season (5-1-0). And they should have a bit of an advantage, as they have had a nice bit of rest. The Canucks are 2-0-0 when they've had 3+ days of rest. Both teams are coming off wins, and that stat clear favours the Canucks. Vancouver is 7-3-0 after a win, while Calgary is only 3-5-1. That stat alone speaks to the problems that Calgary has had all year - consistency. They just can't seem to keep any momentum going from game to game.
But it is the Canucks who need to snag the momentum, especially given their road record. And also given their starts to road trips. In their first games on road trips, they are only 1-3-0. They aren't getting off to good starts, when means they are constantly playing from behind.
Kevin Bieksa is likely to check back in to the lineup after missing a couple of games due to illness, although Manny Malhotra may be out with the flu.
Finally the Canucks had better keep a sharp eye on a former teammate. You can be guaranteed that Brendan Morrison will come out flying, looking to take it to his former team. Morrison was very good for the Flames to start the season, especially in light of the rash of injuries Calgary has endured thus far. But B-Mo has been cold of late with 0 points in his last games. This may be the game where Morrison gets his groove back.
Iginla, Bourque and Tanguay have started to heat up a bit. And Jerome always seems to start games against the Canucks with a lot of fire. The key for the Flames is when he keeps that fire burning throughout the whole game. When the Canucks have success against the Flames, they get Iginla out of the game early. The Canucks would be well served to come out hitting... everyone but Iginla. When Iggy is engaged physically against the Canucks, he gets his angry face on and usually has great games against Vancouver. If the Canucks can keep him in check and not ruffle his feathers, he'll likely disengage. But the Canucks do need to come out skating and set the quick tone against the Flames early. And as is said every game for the Canucks, they need to score first. Their record of 10-1-1 when scoring first tells the story.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Keep the pressure on for a full 60 minutes. The Flames are a pretty good first period team, statistically. However, they tend to let in more goals as the game goes along. So if the Canucks can keep the pressure on for all three periods, they should be able to put the Flames in their rearview mirror.
2. Win the special teams battle. The teams have almost identical totals for even-strength goals-for and goals-against. The Canucks should be worried about that, but that's beside the point. The Canucks have a big advantage on both the PP and the PK and need to win both battles.
3. Control the puck; control the game. The Flames are bloody awful in the faceoff circle. The Canucks are fantastic on faceoffs. This may turn the tide on the game. If the Canucks can control the puck off the faceoff, and play their puck possession game, especially the Sedins and Burrows, then they will keep the Flames on the ropes all game. If Malhotra is indeed out, the hurts the Canucks' chances of controlling faceoffs.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Flames (canucks.com)
2. Canucks have to get under Iginla's skin (The Province)
3. Canucks-Flames rivalry lacks old punch as Calgary struggles (Vancouver Sun)
4. Gameday Preview: Attack of the Clones (Flames Nation) >> SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!
5. Made in Canada (Featured on NHL on TSN) (TSN.ca)