Thomas Gradin goes into the Ring of Honour tonight.
Game Day Recon #49 – Stars @ Canucks
The slumping Vancouver Canucks host the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars on a night when they pay homage to former Canuck Thomas Gradin. Gradin’s #23 will be memorialized as the latest entry into the Canucks’ Ring of Honour.
These days, the Canucks would be better served by having Gradin suit up and hopefully score a goal or two.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
The slump is on. The Canucks are winless in 4 games and are 4-2-4 in their last 10 games. And their big problem is that they are having a LOT of trouble scoring. The have scored only 11 goals in their last 6 games, including being shut out twice. That lack of scoring has therefore seen them go 1-2-3 in those 6 games. While the Canucks are scraping up points by forcing games into extra time, they are still losing games.
The Stars, on the other hand, are on a roll lately, as they’ve gone 7-1-1 in their last 9 games. That said, the Stars have been beating up on bad or slumping teams, beating the likes of Atlanta, LA, St. Louis, and Edmonton (twice). So the Stars face a much stiffer test tonight that they have over the past few games, but the Canucks aren’t exactly lighting the league standings on fire right now.
The Stars have also been in Vancouver since late Friday night, fliying into town after losing to the Flames in Calgary. So the Canucks face a team that has been enjoying the virtues of Vancouver night life and haven’t played in 2 full days. The Canucks are still stinging from a shootout loss to a divisional opponent on a controversial decision, and are reeling from 4 straight losses. So the fire should be in the Canucks collective belly to get this going again.
It would certainly behoove the Canucks to pull out a big rebound effort tonight and get back to winning ways. Tonight’s game is their second-to-last before the All-Star Break and going into the break on a winning note would be good for their collective psyche. Sending their coach, their captain and two of their assistant captains to the All-Star Game on a six-game losing streak would be a horrible send-off.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Stop the local kid! Jamie Benn is REALLY, REALLY good. The Victoria native has 9 points in his last 6 games and has already set a new career high in assists for a season. Along with Mike Ribiero and Brad Richards, they are three hottest Stars at the moment. The Canucks need to lay a licking on the second-year kid and give him a rude homecoming. Look for him to have a massive night in front of family and friends.
2. Get your special teams back on track. The PP went 0-for-6 against Calgary and their PK has been sputtering lately. Hopefully the Canucks took some time to reset their special teams. They need to stop overpassing the puck on the PP and they need to stop chasing the puck so much on the PK. They need to get simple and calm.
3. If the forwards aren’t scoring, keep giving it to the D. The one thing that has been working for the Canucks lately is getting offense from the defense. Edler, Ehrhoff and Hamhuis have all provided some much needed points, seeing as how the secondary scoring has evaporated over the last 10 games. If the likes of Torres, Malhotra, Samuelsson, Raymond and Tambellini aren’t going to get points, then let the D do it.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Stars @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Ballard lets play do talking, Sweatt eager to make big impression (The Province)
3. Stars-Canucks Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
4. Stars At Canucks Game Preview: Same Old Story (Nucks Misconduct)
5. Gameday Preview: Dallas Stars @ Vancouver Canucks (Defending Big D) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!