April 16 2013 02:15PM
Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward/Associated Press
The Canucks, winners of seven of their last ten, are on something of a hot streak down the stretch. Since the trade deadline they've won five of six, recorded four "clear victories" over that stretch, shutout an opponent on two occassions and have averaged four goals a game. But angst still reigns in conversations about the team in the Vancouver sports market, in part becasue all of the team's past six contests have come against non-playoff teams in the Western Conference.
That'll change on Tuesday evening, as the Canucks roll into St. Louis for the second game of a road back-to-back, to face a very good Blues team. The Blues aren't the league's best team on home ice, but their goaltending has begun to regress (in a positive direction) and they've won six of their last ten, with three shutouts in their past five. The Blues will have a good deal more to play for on Tuesday night too, they're only a single point clear of ninth place in the West, but only four points out of home-ice advantage in the first round (with a game in hand too). So they've got to mind both the carrot and the stick.
Should be an interesting tilt. We'll preview it at length past the jump.
April 16 2013 11:57AM
Ryan Kesler might be the key to a dangerous Canucks power-play.
Photograph by: Rich Lam/Getty Images North America
Headed into the lockout shortened 2013 season, the Vancouver Canucks had boasted one of the league's most fearsome power-play units for about three years running. Conversion rates in the low-20s were the standard, and the team made a game plan of both "using the power-play as their enforcer," while also goading the opposition into taking penalties with a type of mental warfare we like to call "jerkpuck."
This season the power-play goals dried up, and so have the power-play shots. It's inexplicable really, I mean, how is it even possible for a team that employs two guys named Sedin to be in the bottom-five among all NHl teams in both power-play conversion rate and 5-on-4 shot rate? As it turns out, the key to Vancouver's power-play success may have all along been, and is now again, an American centreman named Ryan Kesler.
Read on past the jump.
April 15 2013 10:01PM
The second Power-Play unit celebrates Jason Garrison's game winning goal on Monday night.
Photograph by: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
On Monday night, the Canucks bounced back from a woeful performance this past weekend against the Colorado Avalanche, and scored early and often in a relatively convincing 5-2 victory over the toothless Nashville Predators. It wasn't the club's smoothest game of the season, nor was it their best sixty minute defensive effort, but in terms of offensive execution it might have been one of the team's more impressive performances this season.
Execution in their opponent's end aside, the club very nearly lost the plot entirely in a gaffe-tastic second period in which they completely blew a two goal lead against an offense so feeble, it would be an insult to popguns to invoke their name in a description. So kind of a mixed bag, but overall an entertaining and interesting game.
Read past the jump for more analysis and scoring chance data.
April 15 2013 04:43PM
Yep. Check your reasonable expectations at the door.
Photo via Canucks.com.
Today at Canucks Army we looked at why it might make some sense to play Kesler on the wing (which might not even be happening now, apparently), wrote up Frank Corrado's assignment to the Chicago Wolves, and previewed Monday night's game between the Canucks and Predators.
Read past the jump for more Canucks links and other goodies.
April 15 2013 12:52PM
Henrik Sedin celebrated a penalty shot goal the last time these two teams played.
Image uncredited via boston.com.
The Canucks are coming off of two really underwhelming efforts against a pair of Western Conference cellar dwellers in the Calgary Flames and the Colorado Avalanche. Whether motivation is an issue or there's something else at play, it would behoove the Canucks to figure it out in short order. You don't want to struggle down the stretch and back into the postseason when the team's potential first round opponents include the Blues, Sharks and Kings - a veritable murderers row...
This week the Canucks will play four games in six nights, against three pretty good teams and also the Predators, who they play Monday evening. Let's hope they have their games faces on...
Read past the jump.