Game Day Recon #12 – Canucks @ Avalanche
It’s the battle of the backups as the Canucks’ Cory Schneider faces the Avs’ Peter Budaj tonight in Denver. Both goalies have won their last 2 starts, but both are playing on different terms right now. While Schneider is the established back-up with a set routine of when he will play, Budaj has had to take over for Craig Anderson, who’s been felled by a serious injury. So Budaj takes the reins as Colorado’s temporary #1 goalie and will give Vancouver all it can handle tonight at the Pepsi Center.
Although Budaj as won his last two starts (after losing in OT to the Canucks), the Avalanche haven’t played since October 30th, so the team may be a little stale. That said, the Canucks faced a similar layoff and earlier this week when they faced the Devils and were able to handle that game easily. The Canucks need to provide much stronger competition against Colorado than the Devils did for the Canucks. The Avs might be slightly out of sync to start the game, so it’s imperative that the Canucks get off to a good start and keep that going through 60 minutes.
The Canucks have had some poor second periods this year, while the Avs come off two games with solid second periods.
The Avs know how to score. So this is easily going to be Schneider’s toughest test out of his three starts this year. With Ballard back, that should be an upgrade for him over his past two games, so he will get some help. And Kevin Bieksa has been playing noticeably better over the past three games as well. In fact, most of the blueline has been solid of late, with the exception of the defensive play of the tandem of Ehrhoff and Edler. They just don’t seem to be clicking and were guilty of missed checks on the tying goal in their last game against the Oilers. And Ehrhoff and Edler were on the ice for EVERY SINGLE regulation goal when the Canucks and Avs played last week. So there is the good and bad with that pairing – they can provide an offensive threat but, right now, they are a defensive liability, especially compared with the Canucks other 4 D currently playing.
The Three Keys
The Canucks last faced the Avs only a week ago, so the keys to beating them then are the same as they are now. So I’ll be lazy and copy/paste and add a little update.
1. Press the Avs young D. Right now, the Avs D is young and pretty inexperienced. If the Canucks can pressure them throughout the game, they should be able to grab some momentum early.
2. Lots of shots. The Avs give up a lot of shots and, as a result, give up a lot of goals. With Craig Anderson out, Peter Budaj again gets the start. In fact, it was in Vancouver where Anderson had his freak injury during warm-ups. The Canucks need to pepper Budaj and make him uncomfortable all night long.
3. Stay close to the Avs top 4. Stewart, Duchene, Hejduk and Stastny have been great. The Canucks have to get it in their heads that these four guys are going to cause them problems all game long. The Canucks D needs to stick to these guys like flies on honey and choke their speed and their passing.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks/Avalanche (canucks.com)
2. Schneider set to prove self (theprovince.com)
3. Head-to-Head (TotT) Canucks @ Avs (faceoff.com)
4. Game 12 Preview: Canucks at Avalanche (Mile High Hockey)
5. A Bit of Snow (Nucks Misconduct)