October 10 2011 12:54PM
Schneider gets the start for as the Canucks look for their first win of the season.
Game-Day Recon for Game #2 Canucks @ BlueJackets
The Canucks roll into Columbus having tied their first game of the year against Pittsburgh (and lost in the skill-contest). The team was great in the last twenty-five minutes on Thursday night, and will hopefully string together a solid effort for a full sixty on the road this afternoon. Columbus looks to avoid losing three games in a row to begin the season, so expect them to be a desperate squad (or, as desperate as a squad can be in the first week).
Game time: 4:30 PST
The revamped BlueJackets are 0-2-0 on the season thus far, but their top line of Rich Nash, Jeff Carter and.. uh... yeah well whatever Nash and Carter together have been dynamite. Against the Predators on Saturday night, Carter/Nash weren't on for a single scoring chance against. Cory Schneider, who gets the start tonight, will have to be sharp because this Blue Jackets team is scarier than it has been in years, and they'll be desperate to get into the win column.
It's likely that highly-touted prospect Ryan Johansen will slip into the BlueJackets lineup this evening, so that will be fun to watch - especially if he plays head-to-head against Cody Hodgson. Apparently Ryan Johansen is being scratched again. Sucks. I'll expect the Sedins to see a heavy diet of Samuel Pahlsson, who centers last years rookie sensation Matt Calvert and the "Raffi Torres like" Derek Dorsett.
Along the blueline the BlueJackets are still without James Wisniewski (Shanaban), so their top-4 is pretty weak. The Columbus top four consists of Radek Martinek, Fedor Tyutin, Mark Methot and Grant Clitsome. Combine those four with Steve Mason, and you can understand why the Sedins have already started salivating. Expect some Blue Jackets defenders to look pretty silly against Vancouver's top-line.
In net the BlueJackets will go with Steve Mason, who has yet to rediscover his rookie form. His play has been inconsistent for nearly two seasons now, and he'll be in tough against the Canucks offense. Luckily for Mason and the BlueJackets - the Canucks power-play hasn't looked particularly dangerous yet this season.
The Three Keys
1. Contain the Carter-Nash line. Carter-Nash were dominant against the Predators on Saturday, and the Predators are a team that knows a thing or two about keeping pucks out of their net. Bieksa and Hamhuis will likely get the bulk of even-strength minutes against the BlueJacket's top-line, and in concert with Malhotra-Higgins and Hansen will look to frustrate the Columbus snipers. Both Carter and Nash are high volume shooters, so expect Cory Schneider to be busy this evening. If he's sharp - the Canucks should come away with their first win of the season.
2. Sedin domination. Columbus has a shaky blue-line composed of career AHLer Aaron Johnson, inexperienced youngster David Savard (who is absurdly talented, I'm really excited to watch him skate) and four guy who wouldn't crack the Canucks current top-4. Combine that with an inconsistent netminder and it's a recipe for some Sedinery of the Wizardous variety. The twins were exceptional against the Penguins, and will look to carry that dominance over to tonight's game.
3. Special teams. The Canucks destroyed Pittsburgh at even-strength on Thursday, but were unable to overcome a -3 goal differential on special teams, and had to settle for one point. The Canucks led the league in special teams differential last season - so it's not as if this is a cause for concern yet - but lets hope they tighten up on the PK especially this evening.
Here are your suggested readings to prep for today's game:
1. Check out The Cannon's (SBN's Blue Jackets blog) game preview.
2. Here's Botchford on Schneider's being tapped to start tonight's game.
3. And here's Botchford again on Luongo "taking responsibility" for his poor performance against Pittsburgh.
4. Here's PiTB on Edler and Ballard's shooting performance in game 1. More of the same tonight? Fingers. Crossed.
5. Finally, here's Winnipeg's heartfelt Rick Rypien tribute that played before their home opener yesterday. Class.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING (via Vice Canada's Facebook Page)