Sorry Detroit. Your native son is all our for another 6 years.
The Vancouver Canucks wrap up their five-game home stand with a date on Hockey Night in Canada with the Detroit Red Wings tonight at GM Place. The Red Wings are fresh off a shootout loss last night in Edmonton, and will be looking to avenge an earlier bad loss to the Canucks just over two weeks ago.
The Canucks will be looking to take advantage of a tired Red Wings team, who went to a shootout last night in Edmonton. Vancouver appeared to have dusted off any cobwebs that had formed against the New York Islanders on Tuesday. The Canucks had another tremendous early home start, as they took control early against the San Jose Sharks and controlled the flow of the game for the most part. Certainly there were parts where the Sharks took over. After all, they are the Sharks. They’re a damn good team. For the most part, the Canucks owned the puck enough to decisively win that game.
The Canucks will need a similar effort against a resurrgent Red Wings team, looking to keep their playoff spot to which they are barely clinging right now. Really, the Canucks just have to duplicate the effort from 17 days ago against these same Red Wings, and they’ll set. However, the Wings are 5-1-1 in their last 7 games, so this is no small order.
One player who always has great games against the Red Wings is Detroit-area native Ryan Kesler, he of the newly signed 6-year, $30 million contract. Look for Kesler to be buoyed by his new-found money, and a crowd that will surely be cheering for him louder than ever as he takes the ice. It’s been quite a month for Kesler. He was arguably the best skater for the US Olympic team during the Vancouver 2010 games, has been playing like a man possessed since returning to NHL action, and now has $30 million to his name. Not bad, Ryan. Not bad at all.
The Canucks certainly do have their work cut out for them tonight. The Red Wings are 5-4-1 in the second half of back-to-back games, and are 6-3-3 after a loss in extra minutes. The Red Wings are also a very disciplined team, ranking 2nd in PIM per game at only 9.1. Where the Canucks can seize victory is 5-on-5, where the Red Wings are surprisingly poor statistically. Detroit ranks dead last in 5-on-5 goals for, and 18th in 5-on-5 goals against.
The Canucks need to stay disciplined tonight, be the aggressor early against a likely tired Red Wings team. Teams that play in the second half of back-to-back games like to score early, ge a lead and hold on. If the Canucks can turn that around and themselves score early, they may find their key to success tonight.
Can the Canucks grab this opportunity? Do they have what it takes? The Canucks are 10-1-1 in games on Hockey Night in Canada. Whether is good luck or good play, Vancouver sure loves its Saturday games. Let’s hope we do too at the end of the night.