Game 18 Preview: Canucks @ Red Wings

Thomas Drance
February 24 2013 01:24PM


Photo Credit: Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

Early on Sunday evening, the Canucks will conclude a heartland road swing that has taken them through Chicago, Dallas and Nashville over the past five days  with a visit to MoTown to face the winged wheel. The Canucks have performed relatively well on the trip, and have played some pretty respectable hockey with the exception of two really rough periods (the 2nd period in Chicago, and the 1st in Nashville). Ultimately the team has come away with points in every game to go with two regulations wins (albeit none of the "clear" variety).

The Red Wings aren't quite the team they used to be, with the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom being felt acutely in every game state. But their top-six forward group remains nearly as dangerous as any in the game (outside of Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and maybe Vancouver and New York). The Red Wings and the Canucks have played a handful of memorable, high-scoring contests over the past few years, both puck possession teams seeming to bring out the best in one another, so Sunday's matinée (for West Coast viewers at least) should be fun. Or at least more fun than the relatively eventless Friday night contest against the Predators was, but that's a low bar.

Read on past the jump.

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Luongo Blanks Predators, Weise Scores the Game Winner

Thomas Drance
February 22 2013 11:28PM


I Am Not a Human Being II
Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/NHLI via Getty Images

In the second game of a road back-to-back and facing one of the league's mingiest defensive clubs, the Vancouver Canucks chose a conservative gameplan and at least once the team woke up at some point during the first intermission, they executed it successfully. Not that the two points does anything to make Friday night's one-to-nothing victory over the Predators any easier on the eyes, in hindsight.

Sure the game was conducted at a stultifying pace and was certainly no diamond in the rough (like a baby in the trash), but Roberto Luongo was excellent and in front of him the Canucks were the decidedly better club over the latter forty minutes. They deserved the two points and also Dale Weise scored the only goal, so we can quote Lil Wayne in the gamer!

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Game 17 Preview: Canucks @ Predators

Thomas Drance
February 22 2013 01:39PM


Ain't no thing chicken wing! (They love Kesler down in Nashville, I hear).
Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Canucks ended their three game losing skid on Thursday night, and did so in fine fashion with a dynamite third period on the road against the team that beat them a week earlier and initially set off the string of Canucks defeats. Vancouver's new defensive pairings looked pretty good with a couple of qualifications - Tanev and Edler were a bit too low-event for my liking (neutring at least some of Edler's effectiveness) and Bieksa's two-way game is still iffy - and Jordan Schroeder and Mason Raymond continued to impress on a speedy third-line alongside David Booth. Those are good signs for the Canucks, who should only get better as Ryan Kesler finds his form and the Sedin twins work their way further into an offensive groove. 

Tonight the Canucks, who have faced a platter of second-tier - or at least untested - netminders over the past eight games including Leland Irving, Chris Nilstrop, Ray Emery, Jake Allen, Darcy Kuemper and Richard Bachman, will face Pekka Rinne (probably) and his bottomless glove hand. I'd say that represents a step up in quality, that is unless Barry Trotz decides to roll out Chris Mason instead...

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Canucks bust out in the Third Period, End Three Game Skid in Dallas

Thomas Drance
February 21 2013 11:53PM

 
Classic Bieksa angry face. Hey Vernon Fiddler, impersonate this!
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Despite an uninspired first forty minutes in which the Canucks were out-chanced and didn't look like a team that was particularly eager to break out of a three game losing skid, Vancouver's club rallied in the final frame and managed to defeat the Dallas Stars in regulation on Thursday night.

It was a reasonably solid outing all around for Vancouver's club, though particularly for the third-line of Jordan Schroeder, Mason Raymond and David Booth who were borderline spectacular in relatively difficult minutes. Meanwhile Henrik Sedin scored a beauty, Zack Kassian won a fight, and Jason Garrison had a wicked shift leading to a goal and earned himself a short respite from the wellspring of criticism he's been treated too of late. Also we got to watch Jamie Benn be ridiculously good at hockey and Jaromir Jagr do things no forty something year old man should be capable of, so all around a fun night of hockey.

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Afternoon Headshots: February 21st

Thomas Drance
February 21 2013 03:37PM


Alex Edler wears flip flops and also his full practice gear.
Insert unoriginal "what about Kesler" flopping joke here: _________
Photo Credit: Sedin Twins.

Marian Hossa, whose injured status played a role in Jannik Hansen's one game suspension, returned to the ice to practice with his Blackhawks teammates. Jannik Hansen was callously quoted saying this development didn't surprise him in the least. [The White Towel]

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