March 14 2011 01:58PM
Wonder Twin Powers shall activate TONIGHT! (Photo by AP)
Game Day Recon #71 - Wild @ Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks face their long-time division rivals tonight as they travel to Calgary to end their 5 game road trip against the Flames. The Flames could very well end up facing the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. Based on how the games have gone so far this year, I think the Canucks would probably be okay with that.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
TV: RSN-VAN Radio: Team1040
For all of the troubles that the Canucks have had playing in Minnesota, they've had a lot more success against the Wild at home. The Canucks are 7-0-1 in their last 8 home games against the Wild. In 5 of those 8 games, the Canucks have scored 4 or more goals. While Canucks fans may worry about their team playing in the State of Hockey, the Canucks have done all they can to quell fans' nerves when playing them at home.
Cal Clutterbuck and Andrew Brunette have both been handfuls for the Canucks this year. Both have played 4 games against Vancouver this year, and both have 2G 0A. Clutterbuck is still a question mark for tonight's game, so the Canucks may have one minor worry off their plate. But the Wild are likely to see the return of Mikko Koivu, who appears to be a gametime decision, as is Clayton Stoner. As for Brunette, he is a Canuck killer. In 64 GP against the Canucks, Brunette has 18G 37A 55 Pts and +11. And many of his goals were assisted by Blonde and Redhead.
The Canucks can also has Marty Havlat to their list of troubles this year. While he's not normally been a difficulty for the Canucks, he has 2G 1A in 4GP this year. Interestingly though Havlat, Brunette and Clutterbuck are all -2 against the Canucks this year. Much of that has to do with the fact that 4 of their 7 combined points came on the power play.
For the Canucks, they need to make sure that they continue their momentum from their perfect road trip. Vancouver does have a great record when coming back off the road, going 8-2-1 in their first game back at home after a road trip. And the Wild are coming off back-to-back 4-0 shutouts on the road. After a loss, the Wild are an average 12-10-4 and 7-5-2 with 2 days off.
Canucks fans are hoping that their team can keep it going. They're only a couple of points away from clinching the Northwest Division and therefore a playoff spot. Let's hope they just get it done already! Then maybe we'll breathe a bit.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Get the Penalty Kill going. The Canucks achilles heel against the Wild this season has been their penalty kill. Granted they faced the Wild when their PK was not rolling as well as it is now. So that's encouraging. Of the Wild's 12 goals against the Canucks this year, 5 have been power play goals. And they've scored a PPG in 3 of their 4 games this year. So yeah. STOP THEM ON THE POWER PLAY.
2. If you start scoring, don't stop! The Wild are third-worst in the league in 3+ goal losses, with 16. And the Canucks haven't had a close game against the Wild all season. They either win big or lose big. So it seems like it's the first team to 3 goals will win. So Canucks need to open the game up and go for the jugular.
3. Get their sh*t together in the second period. The second period is statistically the Canucks worst period. By a LOT. However, in their last game vs Calgary, the Canucks had a brilliant second period and it won them the game. The Canucks need to overcome this hurdle of letting down in the middle frame and keep the engine revved. Smooth line changes are a must against a team that doesn't have a ton of offense, but are very opportunistic.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Wild @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Wild continues fight for playoff spot against Canucks (The Province)
3. Ryan Kesler's Interview Bomber keeps Canucks loose (Vancouver Sun)
4. Canucks/Wild Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
5. Wilderness Walk for 3-14-2011: Game Day Edition (Hockey Wilderness) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY