This was the Canucks after last week’s game at home to Chicago.
Game Day Recon #24 – Canucks @ Blackhawks
The Vancouver Canucks are looking to redeem themselves against the defending Stanley Cup champions, after the champs came into their barn and spanked them silly.
Don’t let anyone tell you different – this is a huge statement game for the Canucks. Can they rebound against their nemesis? Can they return the favour and administer a similar whooping?
The Vancouver Canucks have been MUCH better in their past three games. They have played complete games, have rolled all four lines effectively, have had their special teams running at a high clip, and have not panicked in their own zone. Most importantly they have used their best weapon – team speed. The Canucks are a pretty fast team and they need to remember that.
The Canucks do catch a break as Marion Hossa is out injured. That still leaves Toews, Kane, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Campbell and two guys that are quickly becoming Canuck killers – Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer. Oh and Marty Turco is in net for the Blackhawks tonight, who has an absolutely insane record against the Canucks. That said, in Turco’s last 20 games against the Canucks, straight up, he is 10-10, and only 2-4 in his last 6 against Vancouver. So his slanted record comes from years past. Plus Turco has been horrible in his last two games, going 0-2-0, 5.57 GAA, .828 Sv% in last 2 GPI. Furthermore, the Canucks have a decent record playing in Chicago. In their last 10 games at United Center, both playoff and regular season, the Canucks are straight up 5-5. That’s not bad considering that Chicago is considered to be a powerhouse in the league and is the defending Stanley Cup champion.
The Blackhawks most dangerous player this year has to be Patrick Sharp. Although, surprisingly he hasn’t been a huge factor on the scoresheet against the Canucks. In two games this year, he has only 1G 0A 1Pt. Lifetime, he has only 11 points in 18 career regular season games. Compare that to Henrik Sedin who has 28 points in 36 career games against the Blackhawks. And Daniel Sedin who has 31 points in 37 career games. In fact, Patrick Kane probably has the best stats career against the Canucks in the regular season with 12 points in 14 games, and already has 3 points in 2 points against them this year. So while Sharp may be the most dangerous player, it’s Patrick Kane was must be the Canucks #1 focus.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. More of the Same. The Canucks have been a pleasure to watch for the past three games. Huge effort, team speed, calm and poise quick passes to clear their own zone. They must score first, as they have in their past three games. In their two games against Chicago this year, the Blackhawks have scored first, leading the Canucks to a 0-1-1 record including that embarassing loss. They cannot let the Blackhawks get in their heads… which leads me to my next key.
2. Play to WIN. Don’t play to not lose. This is all on the coaches and the message that they are sending down to the players. Frankly I think that the new arrangement on the top 3 lines will have a big impact, but only if Vigneault coaches them to win, like the last 3 games.
3. Start knocking around the Blackhawks. The Canucks let Chicago’s top players pretty much skate around however they want. There has been no physical play against their better players. The Canucks are the bigger team and need to assert themselves physically, specifically against Kane, Sharp and Toews. They need to put Kane on his ass a few times in this game, so that he’ll stop gobbling up free ice and head straight to the net.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Blackhawks (canucks.com)
2. Canucks must rise against Blackhawks Friday (The Province)
3. Pump Up the Jams: Canucks @ Blackhawks Preview (Blackhawks Down Low)
4. Sharp playing at All-Star level despite ballot snub (Chicago Tribune)
5. Canucks @ Blackhawks: The Struggling Within (Nucks Misconduct)