Last year’s affair at Air Canada Centre was a bizarre one.
I think the Canucks would rather just demolish the Leafs old fashioned-like this time around.
(Photo by Abelimages / Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Game #32 – Canucks @ Maple Leafs
The Vancouver Canucks lost consecutive games to the worst teams in either conference. Sobering, for sure. But par for the course when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, who have found ways to lose to the bottom feeders in the league for several years. The good thing about the Canucks facing the Leafs is that the Leafs are currently in a playoff spot. And the Canucks should be good and pissed off after gagging away a two-goal lead in Carolina on Thursday.
Game Time: 4:00 PM PT
The Canucks pulled up lame in Columbus and Carolina, garnering only a single point out of a possible (and in all honestly, an expected) four. The Canucks wrap up their five-game road trip with a trip to Toronto, looking to head home on an up note. And they face a Leafs team that is mired in a slump of being average, at best. 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, the Leafs have been unable to find any consistency in their play. They haven’t won 3 consecutive games in regulation since their first three games of the season. But the good thing for the Leafs is that they haven’t lost more than 2 games in a row all season. But that’s just it. They can’t get on a roll. One or two wins, then one or two losses… all season long.
Contrast that against the Canucks, who had won 9 of 10 games before losing back-to-back games against two cupcake opponents. The Canucks are consistent though. You can consistently count on the Canucks losing to horrible teams when they should be destroying them. Well, Vancouver hasn’t had a problem getting amped up for games against the Leafs in recent years, as the Canucks are riding an 8-game winning streak against the Buds. The last time the Leafs beat the Canucks, Ed Belfour backstopped the Leafs to a 2-1 win against Johan Hedberg’s Canucks. That happened to be the second consecutive loss to the Leafs … in back-to-back games. Yeah that’s right. The Leafs and Canucks played back-to-back, home-and-home games in 2003 and the Canucks lost both.
The Leafs are coming off a 5-4 loss in Buffalo last night, so they’ll certainly be hungry to get back to the win column, but playing a tough opponent on the second half of back-to-back nights will be a daunting task. The Canucks will absolutely be looking to right the ship after listing for the past two games. And there truly isn’t any bigger stage during the regular season than a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
NOTES… Daniel Sedin took the morning skate and said that his back was feeling much better, so it appears that he will play tonight. Both Mark Mancari and Andrew Ebbett also took the morning skate. It’s possible that both players could see action tonight. Both players are expected to skate in the warm-up. It’s likely that only one of them will make the lineup tonight. Against a speedier Leafs team, I would have to think that Ebbett would be the more logical choice over Mancari.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
- Be absolutely ruthless on the power play. The Maple Leafs penalty kill is almost historically bad. I’m talking "Seasons 2 and 4 of True Blood" kind of bad. Yeah. It’s that bad. The Canucks stellar power play needs to bury the Leafs whenever they have the man advantage. It’s not unreasonable to expect that the Canucks should score 19 power play goals. Maybe 20.
- Don’t sh*t your pants over Phil Kessel. Wiser words were never spoken about Phil Kessel. Thanks Torts! Just like Torts said on Wednesday, play Phil outside and play him physical. The Canucks have plenty of speed to keep up with the Leafs and Kessel’s line, so they’re going to have to get their legs going to keep him and his linemates contained.
- Win the defensive battles. This game will come down to how well each team plays defensively at even strength. The Canucks have been terrible defensively at even strength in their last two games, where they were previously very strong at 5-on-5. It’s not really a coincidence that they lost these part two games. The Leafs and Canucks are almost identical in terms of goals for and against at 5-on-5 (VAN – 59-53 in GF-GA; TOR – 60-56), so the Canucks have to make the difference at even strength.
Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:
- Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
- Canucks’ Andrew Ebbett hopes to mount up (Vancouver Sun)
- Canucks’ Cody Hodgson keyed up for Hogtown home cooking (Vancouver Sun)
- Canucks may be down a Sedin vs. Leafs (CBC Sports)
- Daniel Sedin Will Play Against Leafs / More Links (Nucks Misconduct)