February 07 2011 09:29AM
Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images North America
Game Day Recon #54 - Senators @ Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks return to action after an emotional, high-energy battle against their most hated rival.
Will having the weekend off, and now facing a weak opponent, provide a speed bump in their road?
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
The Canucks may have poured all of their heart, soul and energy into their game against the Blackhawks on Friday night. Then they had the whole weekend to enjoy that victory, relax with their families, maybe even enjoy the Super Bowl yesterday. So is that enough time away to recharge and reset? Or will they still be sporting a Blackhawks hangover tonight?
But let's face it... the Senators are awful. Ottawa is winless in February, going 0-3-0 so far, and are 1-9-3 in their last 13 games, including 9 straight losses. This downward sprial has dropped the Sens down to 14th in the Eastern conference.
So does this all favour the Canucks. It absolutely should. The Senators are 5-15-4 on one day off, and 6-8-2 on the first game on the road, and 12-19-7 on weekday games. All signs point to Vancouver, so they had better be careful. We've said it many times before but these are the types of games that the Canucks have famously lost in the past. They've done a good job this season of putting these types of games out of reach, so the tide may be turning for the Canucks.
The Senators just can't do much right these days. They are 29th in goals per game at only 2.21, and are 28th at goals-against per game at 3.23. Their best players are Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Karlsson, tied for the team lead with 30 points while Jason Spezza is their best PPG player with 20 points in 33 games. That said, not a single player on their team who has played more than 15 games is above 0 in plus/minus.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Win the battles at even strength. The Canucks can't expect and rely on the special teams to bail them out of games, like Friday against the Blackhawks. The Senators are the worst defensive team at even strength giving up 127 goals at even-strength. Tonight is a great opportunity for the Canucks to flex their even-strength muscle.
2. Spezza is still damn good. Watch him. The Senators don't boast a lot of firepower but Jason Spezza is still a fantastic offensive player. He burned the Canucks in their last meeting, before Vancouver took over that game. Spezza is capable of putting up points. And he's terrific in the faceoff circle, winning 56.9% of his draws. The Canucks need to lock him down.
3. Get the first goal. The Canucks are 28-1-6 when scoring first. That's a league-best in terms of wins. The Senators are a league worst 3-20-5 when trailing first.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Senators @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Sammy whammy: Canucks’ Mikael Samuelsson bounces back (Vancouver Sun)
3. Canucks working just as hard off the ice (The Province)
4. Gameday preview: Senators at Canucks (Ottawa Citizen)
5. Canucks vs. Senators Preview (Yahoo! Sports)