Tell Kelly I said Hi! (AP Photo/ THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Game Day Recon #57 – Canucks @ Blues
The last time that Roberto Luongo Luongo lost a game in regulation, he lost to the St. Louis. That was on Decemeber 5th. 70 days ago. Now, Luongo and the Canucks have a couple of dragons to slay in the next two days, facing the Blues and the Minnesota Wild tonight and tomorrow respectively.
Will tonight see Luongo exact some revenge on his last regulation loss? And can he carry that on to tomorrow?
Game Time: 5:00 PM PT
After a win on New Year’s Eve against Phoenix, the St. Louis Blues were 8 games above .500 and had an approximately 94% chance of making the playoffs. Since then, they have gone 3-8-4 and have fallen to 13th in the conference. And they’re biggest problem is that they just can’t score goals. And on those occasions when they do score, they end up letting in a whole bunch. In 2011, they’ve scored 3 goals or more 9 times, yet they have won only 2 of those games.
And a lot of that can fall on the shoulders of Jaroslav Halak, who has been very average all year, going 18-7-6 with a 2.65 GAA and a .907 Sv%. That said, Halak does have a decent stat line against the Canucks for his career, going 3-2-0 with a 2.22 GAA and a .935 Sv%.
Other than Halak, the Blues have a few guys that have had some success against the Canucks in their careers, lede by Brad Boyes and TJ Oshie. in 17GP, Boyes has 7G 10A for 17 Pst, while Oshie has 3G 6A 9 Pts in 8GP. David Backes (his wife Kelly is a favourite of Burrows and Kesler) has 5G 6A 11Pts in 15GP against the Canucks, and Andy McDonald has 11G 15A 26Pts in 31GP. All great stat lines and all provide a credible threat to the Canucks. My favourite Blues stat line against the Canucks though is that of Eric Brewer. In 36GP, Brewer has 3G 13A 16Pts. Pretty good. But he is also a -21, which is shockingly bad.
For their part, the Canucks players don’t really have a Blues Slayer. Sure, the Sedins have decent numbers (Daniel – 37GP 8G 20A 28Pts; Henrik (38GP 6G 22A 28Pts) but they have a pretty startline lack of goals against St. Louis. In fact, nobody does. Not one Canucks players has more than 8 career goals against the Blues. So the task is upon the Canucks to reverse a trend and score against the Blues.
And hopefully for the Canucks, they can raise their game, especially against a struggling team. The Blues are 14th in the West in goals-for, and tied for 3rd worst in goal differential. And its the combination of lack of goal-scoring and a lack of ability to keep the puck out of the net that has led to the Blues downfall in this calendar year. In 17 games in 2011, the Blues have given up 3 goals or more 13 times.
So the stage is set for some Canucks goals. And they have a couple of players who are on fire lately. Mikael Samuelsson, is on a 6 game point streak, and in his last 8 games has 7 goals and 7 assists, while Alex Burrows is on a 9 game point streak, for 8 goals and 3 assists and is +7 in that time.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Dial up that lethal power play. The Blues are the third-most penalized team in the league (16.0 PIMs/game) and have the 20th PK in the league. That said, their home PK is ranked 6th so it’s their terrible road PK that is skewing that number quite a bit. But the Canucks have the #1 PP and the #1 road PP in the league. A lack of goal scoring against the Blues could be cured on thepower play tonight.
2. Be smart with the puck and force turnovers. The Blues are ranked 8th in giveaway/takeaway ratio and are 3rd in giveaways. So the Canucks need to be hard on the forecheck to turn the puck over deep in the Blues zone. And sharp passes out of their own zone.
3. Berglund and Boyes: Bully them. Patrik Berglund and Brad Boyes are the two hottest Blues right now, especially Berglund who as 12 points in his last 12 games. Look for Kevin Bieksa to put a leash on these two tonight.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Blues (canucks.com)
2. Hot Mikael Samuelsson gives Canucks another weapon tonight against Blues (Vancouver Sun)
3. Canucks Gameday (The Province)
4. Canucks-Blues Preview (STL Today/STATS)
5. Canucks at Blues Preview (SB Nation)