Game 3 Preview – Canucks Need to Come Out Swinging

Tonight should be a hoot! It promises to be a physical, testy affair.
Which means the Canucks will turtle and cower in the corner. Because they aren’t tough, you see.
(Photograph by: Steve Bosch, PNG)

Game Day Recon: Game 3 – Canucks @ Flyers

The Vancouver Canucks travel to the City of Brotherly Love to face Jaromir Jagr and the Philadelphia Flyers in the home opener at Wells Fargo Center. God, that just looks weird, now that I’ve typed it. Jagr as a Flyer. Don’t worry, I will NOT make any "Moves Like Jagr" jokes, because they’re completely ridiculous. And also, I can’t think of one.

Even though the Flyers revamped their lineup in the off-season, they represent a good, early Litmus test for the Canucks on the first half of back-to-back games on this 4-game road trip.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 4:30 PM PT

TV: TSN Radio: Team1040

The Intel

The Philadelphia Flyers have a great roster. High-scoring forwards, solid and veteran defencemen and a great goalie. But… Do they have a great team? Or do they simply have a collection of great players? It’s impossible after only two games have to prepare for the former but hope for the latter. The Canucks certainly have enough of their own top-end talent to neuter a collection of great players. But we haven’t yet seen a full game out of the Canucks where they dominate as a 20-man team.

Philadelphia is a good, early test for the Canucks too see where they stand and how they stack up to a top Eastern Conference team. And the Canucks first move to tackle this lineup (both figuratively and literally) is to dress Andrew Alberts in place of Chris Tanev on the Canucks blue line. Alberts represents a brawnier, albeit slower and less-skilled, option for the Canucks. And he’ll face some stiff opposition, with the likes of Jagr, Giroux, van Riemsdyk, Briere, Simmonds, and Voracek baring down on the Canucks’ zone.

This will also be an interesting test for the Canucks fourth line. In a game like tonight’s, a physical presence is a necessity. After not responding physically to the Blue Jackets when captain Henrik Sedin was run from behind , a lot of doubts were raised about the toughness of this team. There cannot be any doubt tonight about the Canucks’ toughness. They either respond with muscle, or they’ll be shoved clear out of the building early.

The last time that the Flyers and Canucks played almost can’t be used as any sort of indicator. First off, they played in Vancouver. And the Flyers had a couple of days off in our fair city, giving them plenty of time to catch a serious bout of Roxy Flu. It was also right after Christmas (Dec 28), so you can always expect of bit of a Christmas hangover too. So Roxy Flu combined with a Christmas hangover all but handed the Canucks an easy 6-2 win. The Canucks fired 49 shots at Philadelphia that night, including 22 in the first period alone. That same type of first period effort would be a welcome sight tonight, but the Canucks might have designs on a different strategy. They face a different lineup and different goaltending in a different venue at a different time of the year. Oh… and tonight’s game also happens to be the Flyer’s home opener. Despite all of that, the Canucks hope for the same result as last year.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Reverse the trend of slow starts. Philly has outshot its opponent 26-13 in the opening frame so far, outscored them 3-1. Canucks need to stay disciplined and keep the Flyers shot total down, limit chances and slow the pace. An incredibly dull, uneventful first period would actually suit the Canucks just fine.
  2. Be physical with the Flyers stars, in order to draw penalties. While the debate rages on about the Canucks being tough enough, the Flyers are a bunch of hotheads and will take penalties. So exploit that. Be physical with the Flyers leading players (Giroux, Briere, van Riemsdyk) and get under their skin. Get them retaliating. But wait until the second period to start the ruckus (see key #1).
  3. Help your own goaltender out. The Flyers are fast and physical. They will charge straight at Roberto Luongo. The Canucks need to keep Lu’s space clear. It’s another reason to slow the pace and keep the game boring early. If the Canucks can keep the puck and the Flyers away from Lu’s crease, the fracases will be minimal and the Flyers won’t engage as much physically. 

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Hodgson starting to look sharp for Canucks (The Province)
  3. Canucks’ Keith Ballard bounces back into the good books (Vancouver Sun)
  4. And Boom Goes the Dynamite (Now with more Brygzalov) (Nucks Misconduct)
  5. Jaromir Jagr Still Gets Pumped For Home Openers (Philly Sports Daily)