Preview: Game 4 Canucks @ Ducks

Thomas Drance
January 25 2013 03:32PM


All of the seats at the Honda Centre have a Teemu Selanne shirt placed on them. JEALOUS!
Photo Credit: Eric Stephens.

Less than a week after the team's gong-show season opener against the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks and their anointed starter Cory Schneider will get a second kick at the can on Friday night in Orange County. The Ducks have won both of their games so far this season and have been a dynamic offensive force in those two contests. Over a miniscule sample of games the Ducks are averaging six goals per game, and are capitalizing on 60% of power-play opportunities...

Obviously they won't sustain either number for more than a couple of games, and in fact, if the Canucks hope to beat the Ducks they'll probably need to hold them to fewer than two goals. Vancouver will be without Manny Malhotra due to the birth of his son (I assume his son's life started in the defensive zone), and Maxim Lapierre is battling through a groin injury (though he'll be in the lineup this evening). That leaves an already short-handed Canucks team even shallower in the middle, something Anaheim could well manage to exploit in Friday night's game.

Read on past the jump for more.

Broadcast Info:

Puck Drop: 7 PM PST

TelevisionRogers Sportsnet

RadioTeam1040

Setup:

Cory Schneider's tenure as a number one goaltender is off to a shaky start. While the netminder rebounded from his blow-up outing in the season opener against Anaheim and pitched a quality start on Wednesday night against the Flames, he looked shaky at times doing it (especially handling the puck). Like Ryan from Chino, he's got a shot at redemption in Orange County, and here's hoping he can take full advantage.

While Anaheim's offensive success looks to be completely unsustainable (the third line leads the league in PDO for example), this is an improved squad over last season's version. Bruce Boudreau has done very well to come up with some forward lines that spread the talent evenly throughout the lineup, and he's been able to take advantage of favorable forward matchups against both the Canucks and the Flames so far this season.

The Canucks remain in "treading water" mode, despite getting their first win of the season on Wednesday against the Flames, and will hope to get a better outing from their blueliners and the Sedin twins (who only combined for two total scoring chances in Wednesday night's game). Without Kesler and Booth the Ducks outgun the Canucks up-front, but if Vancouver's blueline play up to their potential (or even if they get only 80% of the way there) then the Canucks should still have a slight quality advantage.

At the very least Anaheim lacks a stellar shutdown pairing - though Francois Beauchemin and Toni Lydman were very impressive against the twins in the season opener - so if the twins and their new line-mate Marshawn Lynch Zack Kassian can have a strong game, should be able to capitalize.

For the Canucks, the Alex Burrows at centre experiment will continue (he had a solid game in that spot on Wednesday), and Jordan Schroeder will play his second NHL game after a reasonably competent debut against Calgary. With Lapierre hobbled and Andrew Ebbett out of the lineup, the performances of Burrows and Schroeder will be key for the Canucks on Friday night.

With the exception of Cam Fowler's return from the flu (he'll skate on a pairing with former Canuck Bryan Allen) and Swedish rookie Rikard Rakkel drawing out of the lineup (to be replaced by power-forward prospect Peter Holland) the Ducks will roll with the exact same lineup they used in the first game of the season. The Canucks forward lines have gone through a massive renovation already, on the other hand, and those changes helped stem the bleeding somewhat on Wednesday. Still, the Canucks will still have to do better than they did against the Flames if they hope to beat the "hottest team" in the league so far this season on Friday night.

Numbers Game

Numbers Game Ducks Canucks
Record 2-0-0 1-1-1
Goal Differential +5 -4
2011-12 PP% 16.2% 19.8%
2011-12 PK% 82% 86%
2011-12 Corsi% 48.6 52.9%
2011-12 Fenwick Tied% 48.3% 53.1%
Number of players active during the lockout who will dress on Friday 6 8

Game Day Links:

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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