I bet Kesler and Umberger went out for beers last night.
Game Day Recon #64 – Blue Jackets @ Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks need to keep an unfortunate streak going, as they look to get back in the win column. The Canucks have traded wins and losses for 10 games, and are currently on the down swing. However, the Canucks hope that at least one of the their trade deadline acquisitions will inject some life and spark into the lineup right away.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
The Vancouver Canucks face their third straight "B" team tonight. After playing the Blues on Thursday and the Bruins on Saturday, they face the Blue Jackets tonight. And so far this year, the Canucks have had FAR more success against the latter than either of the formers. The Canucks are 2-0-0 against Columbus this year, winning one game each at home and away, and have outscored the Blue Jackets 10-5.
However, the Blue Jackets have been one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference lately. Columbus went 8-3-1 in February, and now sit only 4 points out of a playoff spot, and have two games in hand with most of the other teams fighting for post-season contention. So if they can win their catch-up games they’re right on the cusp of the playoffs.
The Blue Jackets are an interesting team, but they look like they should be a strong defensive team, but they aren’t. They have brutal penalty killing and give up plenty of goals. So they are the type of team that the Canucks should beat. They’ve proven this year that they can, ans have no reason to believe that they can’t again tonight.
The Blue Jackets made a bit of splash at the deadline, sending Rostislav Klesla and Dane Byers to Phoenix for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto. Upshall and Lepisto should fit right in to the Blue Jackets environment, as both are hard workers and tough to play against.
Ultimately though, the Blue Jackets just don’t have enough fire power in their lineup. As always, Rick Nash provides the lion’s share of the offense, and it’s no help to Nash that Derick Brassard and Kristian Huselius are both out with injuries. While Upshall does provide Nash with some potential help, the Blue Jackets are still going to struggle to score.
But if they can get some key goaltending tonight, the Blue Jackets might have just enough offense to hold on. And Steve Mason has been fantastic of late. Mason is on a hot streak, going 7-1-0, with a 1.76 GAA and a .942 Sv% in his last 8 games played. Luckily for the Canucks though, Mason has terrible numbers against the Canucks, going 3-3-1 with a 3.93 GAA and a .876 Sv%.
As for the Canucks, their biggest change tonight will be the inclusion on Maxim Lapierre. Lapierre is expected to join the fourth line, centering Glass and Tambellini, and is the long-awaited natural center that the Canucks have needed on the fourth line all year. Lapierre is a classic agitator, speedy and hungry on the forecheck and someone who likes to play on the edge; he’ll play to the whistle and slightly beyond.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Get their special teams dominate again, especially their Power Play. During this stretch of 10 games where they have alternating wins and losses, the Canucks special teams have either been great on the PP or on the PK, but never both. If the Canucks can get back on track against a team that has bottom shelf special teams (26th on PP, 21st on PK), it will help break this spell of one win, then one loss.
2. Please stop Rick Nash. PLEASE. Nash has some stellar numbers against the Canucks through his career. In 29 GP, Nash has 14G 13A for 27 points, but he doesn’t have a point yet this season against Vancouver. In fact, the Canucks have limited Nash to only 4 SOG and 3 hits in their two meetings this year. And lo and behold, the Canucks have won both games. This isn’t a coincidence.
3. Watch the new guy. Whenever teams acquire new players, there is renewed vigor and promise. New players always seem to have great starts. Scottie Upshall has 6 points in 9 games against Vancouver and is a tough player against whom to play. Keep the new guy in check, along with Nash and the Canucks should get back in the win column tonight.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Blue Jackets @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Lighting a fire under Raymond (The Province)
3. Canucks, Maxim Lapierre seem a strange combo (Vancouver Sun)
4. Canucks/Blue Jackets Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
5. Game 62 Preview: Back to Work (The Cannon) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!