April 08 2010 01:14PM
Will the Canucks win one for Rayzer tonight, just like he's been doing all season?
It's the final regular season road game for the Vancouver Canucks tonight as they travel to San Jose to face the Sharks. For the second game in a row, the Canucks face an opponent with something to play for, while the Canucks post-season spot has already been decided. So, how will the Canucks fare as they rest a few starters, while the Sharks are still aiming for top spot in the Western Conference?
We know for certain that Christian Ehrhoff and Roberto Luongo will sit out tonight's game, and we know that Nolan Baumgartner will slot into the roster tonight, likely in place of Andrew Alberts. The Canucks are locked into 3rd place, so their final three games of the season are meaningless to them as a team. So tonight, the Canucks play for only a few reasons.
They play for Andrew Raycroft, who quite frankly has bailed them out this season. His wins are one of the main reasons why the Canucks are in 3rd spot and won the Northwest Division. A win for Rayzer tonight would be a great cap to a great season.
They play to improve their deficiencies, most notably their first period goals-against and their penalty-kill. They need to keep goals OUT at the start of the game. They don't really have any problem putting goals in, but it's the goals going past them early that are hurting them lately. It's something that they must resolve if they hope to have any sustained success in the playoffs. Same holds true for their penalty kill, especially on the road.
Finally, they play for Henrik Sedin and his race to the Art Ross trophy as the league's highest scoring player. It would be the first time in Canucks history that one of their players was an Art Ross trophy winner.
All that being said... I put little stock in tonight's game, and little faith that the Canucks have any desire to really put forth a huge effort.
My prediction tonight is that the Sharks will come out strong open up a 2 goal lead and the Canucks will be clawing from behind the whole game, only to come up short in a 5-3 loss. The Sharks have had the Canucks number for a few seasons now. Nothing will change that tonight.