Game Day Recon #13 – Red Wings @ Canucks
The red-hot Vancouver Canucks face the Detroit Red Wings tonight at Rogers Arena, after a quick (and quite successful) two-game road trip. Detroit concludes their own short road trip to Western Canada, having won in both Calgary and Edmonton. Detroit, the perennial powerhouse in the western conference, is once again a force with which to reckon and will provide a serious test for the Canucks tonight.
The bad news for the Canucks is that they face the ever-strong Detroit Red Wings tonight. The good news is that the Wings played last night in Edmonton, and this is their third game in four nights. For the Red Wings, the usual suspects lead the way on the scoresheet, with Dastyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom leading Detroit in points. However, a not-so-usual suspect sits fourth in team scoring – ex-Canuck Todd Bertuzzi. The good thing for the Canucks, though, is that Bertuzzi has cooled off dramatically after a blistering start. #44 has no points in his last four games, but look for him to bump that slump as he faces his old team.
Speaking of facing his old team, Mikael Samuelsson suits up against his old teammates and is always out to prove that Detroit made a mistake by not bringing him back. Samuelsson has had a bit of a rough start to the season, despite his point totals. Tonight could very well be his breakout game. In fact, I believe he will have a massive game tonight against his former club.
The Red Wings and Canucks have similar injury problems right now. Both are missing a key member of their blueline but have been doing quite well without him. The Red Wings are playing without Brian Rafalski, while the Canucks continue to win, despite the absence of Dan Hamhuis. The Canucks will likely see the return of Rick Rypien tonight, back after serving his 6-game suspension for his altercation with a fan in Minnesota. With Guillaume Desbiens out indefinitely with a broken hand, Rypien figures to slot into the lineup in his place.
As for the Red Wings as team, they are as strong as ever on both sides of the puck. They are currently fifth in goals per game (3.18) and sixth in goals against per game (2.27). The good thing is that the Canucks are actually tied for fourth in goals against for game (2.17). The Red Wings power play, despite their potent offense, has been quite average (16.7%), and is actually struggling on the road at 14.3%. However, the Red Wings penalty killing has been tremendous this year, putting them fifth at 89.1% for total PK. That said, their PK is a bit more fallible on the road at 83.3%. So the Canucks may have a bit of opportunity, especially given how good the Canucks PP is. Vancouver and Detroit are virtually tied in penalty minutes per game, so don’t look for one team to be on the man advantage more than the other.
The Three Keys
1. Put your power play to work against a tired team. The Red Wings are playing their third game in four nights, and on back-to-back nights. The Canucks and their lethal power play need to strike early.
2. Lead the first period. The Red Wings are undefeated when leading after the first period. The Canucks cannot let the Wings dictate the pace of the game. The Canucks need to be on the attack, much like they have in their past few games. And the Wings actually do give up some goals in the first period (1.00 goals against per game in the 1st period).
3. 60-minute effort. Yes, this is a bit of a cliche, but it is totally applicable against the Red Wings, especially tonight when they should be tired. The Wings have been very strong offensively in the 2nd period and then lock down defensively in the third period. The Canucks need to keep them skating for a full 60 minutes to tire them out and cause mistakes, turnovers and bad goals.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape (Faceoff.com)
2. Raffi Torres: A steal or a thief? (Vancouver Sun)
3. Modano plainly looking more at home with Wings (Detroit Free Press)
5. Red Wings @ Canucks Preview (Nucks Misconduct)