Game #63 Preview: Stars Wars

Thomas Drance
February 26 2012 09:54AM

Hopefully Luongo won't require the help of the cross bar in today's game!

The Canucks and the Stars haven't met in a game since February 19th, 2011. In an odd quirk of schedule, the two sides will now play four games (at a rate of a game every 10 days) over the balance of the regular season.

Imagine if Dallas slips into the postseason, and meets the Canucks in the first round (which is what would occur if the season ended today). If that scenario does indeed unfold, these teams could face each other 8 to 11 times over the next three months... With that in mind, let's all take a moment to be thankful that Marty Turco has moved on!

Read on post the jump for more detailed preview, your three keys and underlying numbers for both teams.

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Is Keith Ballard's concussion a capcussion?

Thomas Drance
February 25 2012 01:11PM


It was nine regular season games ago, Thursday February 9th, when the Canucks - about to play Keith Ballard's hometown team, the Minnesota Wild - announced that the underachieving defenseman was injured . The team never gave a timeline but it was clear that he'd be out of the line-up for a while, especially as the injury changed in nature from whiplash, to a possible concussion to, true story, "upper-body symptoms." 

Up until today there's been a lot of speculation about the nature of the injury, and whether or not Ballard would go on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) as a result. If he was placed on LTIR, it was noted, he'd free up a fair bit of cap-space for the trade deadline. As it turns out, that's exactly what has happened.

Read on past the jump!

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Deadline Preview: Five Defenseman to Target

Thomas Drance
February 24 2012 02:21PM

Jeff Brown (on the left) was a quality addition at the 94 trade deadline. Also: looked like Kyle Wellwood, sorta.

Today we continue our exhaustive "Trade Deadline Preview" series. We started off on Tuesday with an inventory of Canucks cap-space, needs and tradable assets, then Cam Charron looked at the team's recent deadline history on Wednesday. Finally Jeff Angus looked at five of the bigger-name forwards who could become available, and who the Canucks should target at the deadline. Today in a companion piece to Jeff's from yesterday, we'll look at five of the bigger-name defenseman who could become available.

Read on past the jump!

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Blue Streak Breakers: Recap and Chance Data

Thomas Drance
February 23 2012 11:46PM

What was billed as the "biggest game of the Canucks' regular season" lived up to the hype in a big way on Thursday night. Considering that the Canucks, the reigning Western Conference champions and winners of 9 of their last 13 games - rode into the Motor City to face a Red Wings team that hadn't lost at home in an NHL record 23 straight games - that was a lot of hype to live up to. 

The Canucks came out flying and utterly dominated the first period, with the exception of a Bieksa turnover that led to a Darren Helm goal that put the Red Wings up one against the flow of play. In the second period, the Red Wings were dominant (especially in a late period flurry that saw them record five scoring chances in 30 seconds), but the Canucks scored 4-on-4 to even the score.

Then the third period happened, and it was as bad-ass as February hockey gets. New Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey scored on a beauty six minutes into the frame to restore the Red Wings lead. When the Canucks answered with a lucky goal by Cody Hodgson that deflected in off of Johan Franzen's skate - the Red Wings responded just twenty seconds later to restore their one goal lead yet again.

All of which set up a brilliant Sedin sequence with Luongo on the bench and time-ticking down on the clock. Detroit was eighteen seconds away from extending their 23 game home-winning streak when Henrik Sedin spun, and sent a crisp pass to his brother Daniel at the point. Daniel had space to burn with the Red Wings collapsing down-low and he stepped up and fired an absolute bullet past Jimmy Howard to force overtime.

The teams traded chances in the extra frame, with the Canucks generally dominating proceedings (as they usually to do in a 4-on-4 game state), but no one beat either goaltender. In an ironic twist, the Red Wings, whose 23 game home winning streak comes with an asterisk as far as I'm concerned because of the skills competition (yes, I know, I'm a massive kill-joy), saw their streak end on a patented Burrows fore-hand back-hand deke that was the only goal in the shootout.

A more detailed recap, chance data and the statistical three stars and goats after the jump!

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The Biggest Difference Between Luongo and Schneider

Thomas Drance
February 23 2012 02:28PM

When it comes to technique, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are extremely similar goaltenders. They're both large, athletic goalies who play a reasonably aggressive, technically sound butterfly style. They both like to challenge shooters and cut off the angle, and both have an elite catching mitt, making both of them tough to beat glove side. Schneider is somewhat quicker post-to-post than the older Luongo, and Luongo is somewhat more conservative in his movements - but stylistically, they bring a similar approach to the net.

In terms of their differences, there are the obvious ones. Luongo is from Montreal, Schneider from Marblehead. One came through the QMJHL, and played in the memorial cup - while Schneider is the product of College Hockey, and played in the Frozen Four with Boston College. Schneider is a ginger with an Eisenhower era haircut, while Luongo sports long, flowing Romance novel locks, that seem to be perpetually covered in grease. Luongo is one of the highest paid goaltenders in the NHL, Schneider makes less than a million per year on his second pro-contract. 

But the thing that really stands out between the two is their proficiency with words.

Click past the jump to read on!

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