January 15 2014 02:50PM
Get your game face on, just like Corey Perry!
Wednesday night's game between the Vancouver and Anaheim will be hard-pressed to match the intensity, excitement, and intrigue that we saw last time the Canucks hit the ice, but that's okay. Despite that there's at least a handful of noteworthy things for us to look at and talk about in the lead-up to puck drop.
Like, for example, the fact that their opponent tonight has somehow both quietly and kind of unfathomably won 17 of their past 18 games to give themselves a nice little cushion atop the Western Conference. Then there's the 19-0-2 record they have at the Honda Center (the location of tonight's game); if the Canucks hope to hand them their first loss at home they'll have to play better than they did the last time they saw each other 10 days ago.. which fortunately would pretty much be impossible not to do. Remember, streaks are made to be broken.
The lineup will look slightly different tonight than it did in LA, and will probably continue to change steadily over the next couple of games as it slowly but surely morphs into a healthier, more optimal group. Whatever happens, we can all feel better about ourselves knowing that Mike Gillis wasn't the one that swapped two very comparable goaltenders just so he could give up a 3rd round pick for a bottom-6 forward with an ugly contract today.
Puck Drop: 7:30 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
What we know: after being a healthy scratch for the past 3 games, David Booth makes his return to the lineup. We covered this in some detail yesterday on this platform, but basically Darren Archibald was reassigned to Utica, and Nicklas Jensen is expected to join the team in Phoenix tomorrow. As Ben Kuzma put it earlier, this could prove to be something of a one-game audition for Booth. The last time we saw him, against these same Ducks, he was on the ice for 4 shot attempts for and 26 against.. so I guess there's nowhere to go but up, right?
What we don't know: where Booth will slot in, though I expect he'll be back on the 3rd line, next to Santorelli and Hansen. At least that would seem to make the most sense on paper but in the Top Sixtito Era anything truly is possible. Speaking of Sestito, there's a hilarious note in the "Tale of the Tape" on CDC about how he's tied with Corey Perry for the most goals so far in this year's season series between these two teams. Classic.
Anyways, here's some good news
Eddie Lack in goal tonight for Vancouver. Roberto Luongo (ankle) working out at Honda Center, maybe getting ready for Phoenix on Thu— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) January 15, 2014
Now let's get to the underlying numbers.
|Corsi Close %||51.4% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.37 (11th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.10 (10th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.58 (24th)|
|5v4 SF/60||61.6 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||3.04 (1st)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.3 (1st)|
The Ducks are a weird team. As I wrote in some length back on December 10th (just as this remarkable run they're on was starting, so you're welcome Anaheim!) I'm a fan of how Bob Murray and his staff have gone about constructing their roster. That group of 12 forwards listed above is downright obscene; Nick Bonino is on pace for 56 points this year, and he's on their 4th line. They have depth for days up front, and the pool of goaltenders in their system is pretty much just as impressive (which we might see on display tonight with Jonas Hiller battling a flu).
But even I, an admirer of theirs, don't think they're remotely close to being this good. Neither do the numbers. For a while there they were consistently losing the puck possession game, but still somehow winning games. Most of it appears to be directly attributable to some fortunate bounces..
Take for example Hampus Lindholm, a player I really like going forward. He has been on the ice for 38 GF and only 10 GA at 5v5 score close, which has allowed him to rock out with a +23 +/- rating on the year. But he has a 109.7 PDO in those situations, and it would be foolish to assume that he'll be able to continue riding that wave of luck all year long. Then again, I would've said the same thing a couple of weeks ago and the good times just keep on going in Anaheim, so who knows really?
|Corsi Close %||50.5% (14th)|
|5v5 GF/60||3.08 (2nd)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.04 (7th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.59 (20th)|
|5v4 SF/60||55.7 (6th)|
|4v5 GA/60||6.76 (20th)|
|4v5 SA/60||52.8 (19th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
In case you missed it earlier today, the team put up a short little ~3 minute video with something of a "behind the scenes" look from Monday night. It's not like anything spectacularly noteworthy was shown, but I did enjoy Zack Kassian kicking a soccer ball by himself against the wall, then messing up and mugging for the camera. Something about him just totally slays me. You can look for that little segment around the 45 second mark: