Game #31 Preview: Hurticanes

In their only meeting with the Canucks last year, the Hurricanes ran into the Ginger Bricks wall.
They have to face Schneiderman yet again.
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #31 – Canucks @ Hurricanes

Two teams on VERY different tracks. The Vancouver Canucks have climbed their way back up the standings, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They’re now in 5th in the Western Conference and within spitting distance of the division-leading Minnesota Wild. The Carolina Hurricanes are last in the East, 28th in the league, fired their coach and hired Kirk Muller to take over, and have only 1 win in their last 10 games.

Canucks have get in, get the win and get out. Like a bank robbery. Oh, hey look – they’re playing at RBC Center.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 4:00 PM PT

TV: SN-VAN Radio: Team1040

The Setup

It’s a mess in Raleigh and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. The Carolina Hurricanes have been physically beat up all season. Now they’ll be without Jeff Skinner and Joni Pitkanen. The Hurricanes are dead last in team defence and have now lost one of their best defencemen. Oh, and Skinner just happens to be the team’s leading scorer. Skinner is the only Cane with 10 goals or more, so they will be suffering without him in the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Canucks are rolling. And they might have the Blackhawks to thank for that. Since their 5-1 home loss to the Blackhawks, the Canucks have gone 9-1-1 in 11 games and have scored 4 goals or more in 6 of those 11 games. More importantly they’ve allowed 2 goals or less in 9 of those 11 games. Goaltending and team defence at even strength has improved dramatically in those 11 games. Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider have been fantastic of late, both having really only one bad game… and that happened to be the same game (the weird 6-5 loss to Nashville). Luongo was even able to redeem himself in Montreal after a shaky start.

That said, the Canucks will be looking to get back on track offensively tonight after a stumble in Columbus. They were fine defensively, and Luongo was great (until the shootout) and was the only reason the team earned the bonus point. So tonight, Schneider gets another start and the Canucks face a team that’s having trouble scoring and won’t have its leading scorer. They face a team that has a boatload of trouble keeping pucks out of the net, while the Canucks have finally found a consistent scoring touch. All of the ingredients are there for a recipe that should see the Canucks skate away with two points tonight.

But as we all know… the Canucks never make things easy on themselves. And if you need evidence of that, just look back to two days ago.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Manufacture some fire. The Canucks can’t look past this game to Saturday night, because these should be two points that they could take like candy from a baby’s hand. The Hurricanes are reeling, the Canucks are rising. This is absolutely a game that the Canucks should win, and handily. They need to get into this game early so they need to do whatever they can to manufacture some emotion.
  2. Crack open a bottle of goal scoring. The Canucks looked quite off against Columbus, and playing the Hurricanes is a great cure if anything was temporarily ailing the Canucks on the front end. The Canucks likely just had an off day, but the Hurricanes are so brutal defensively that the Canucks should have no problem lighting the lamp. For the Canucks, the need to get at it early. The Canucks play especially better and with more confidence when they have an early lead. They need some of that this afternoon.
  3. Be special with your special teams. The Canucks have a massive advantage over the Hurricanes on both the power play and the penalty kill, so they need to exploit it. However, the Hurricanes don’t take a lot of penalties at home, so the Canucks need to be opporunistic with any PP time they are awarded.

The Links

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

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Game day: Canucks vs Hurricanes (The Province)
  3. Ebbett’s return not soon enough for Canucks and Rome (The Province)
  4. Bieksa spins shootout ‘defence’ (Vancouver Sun)
  5. Canucks face ailing Hurricanes (CBC Sports)