The Vancouver Canucks will play their first road game of the playoffs tonight against St.Louis. Based on the post-game scrum (instigated by Kevin Bieksa’s stickwork), it should be a chippy affair, although that may well favour the Canucks (assuming that the referees stick to the laissez-faire approach they employed on Friday).
There are a couple of things working in the Blues’ favour. First, while all NHL coaches match lines, Andy Murray is one of the most fanatical in the league. Tonight, for the first time in the series he’ll have home ice advantage and be able to definitively control the matchups. Secondly, Paul Kariya may not be far away from making his presence known in this series.
Kariya has been skating with the team and looked healthy this morning. Asked whether he would play in game 3, he responded with, “We’ll see,” although sources have told TSN that Kariya will not play.
In any case, even if the Canucks can earn a split in the two games in St. Louis, they’ll come home with a sizeable advantage. If, on the other hand, they can win both games they’ll have a long rest while waiting for their second-round opponent. We’ll see tonight.