Game #41 Preview – Trapped in the Wild

Kesler scores. Fans celebrate. All is right in the world.
Will the same be true tonight? Or will Kes and the Canucks fall victim to the (duh duh DUH) TRAP!
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #41 – Wild @ Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are about to complete the first half of their regular season. They’ll end it by finishing tops in their division and in one of the top 2 spots in the Western Conference. It’s hard to say they haven’t had a good first half but they need to turn around a small, recent downturn before they start the second half of the season. And that might be the big problem with tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

Are the Canucks looking beyond tonight to their match-up against the Boston Bruins on Saturday? Is the game tonight a dreaded TRAP GAME?!

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:00 PM PT

TV: RSN-PAC Radio: Team1040

The Setup

Tonight is the last time this regular season that the Canucks will host the Minnesota Wild, just as they are about to officially cross over to the second half of the season. And might I say… phew! We still have to suffer through two more Wild games in Minnesota, but after tonight we’ll be through 4 games.

But that’s obviously a silver lining to what is shaping up to the trappiest of all trap games. The Canucks can say it all they want, but there is no doubt that they are looking beyond tonight’s match-up to their game Saturday in Boston in a clash of the Stanley Cup finalists. Against a team like the Minnesota Wild, tonight lines up as a massive trap. The Wild feast on these types of games; catching teams unprepared with an air-tight system and a solid defence. The Wild are opportunistic and score just enough goals to win games. If the Canucks are actually interested in winning this game, they had better get dialed in to the game pretty damn fast.

A loss tonight would be the Canucks’ third in a row and would see them with a mere single point lead in the Northwest Division. A loss would show that the Canucks have hit a wall. If they hit that wall tonight, I can’t even imagine how hard they’re going to plant against the wall when they land in Beantown on Saturday. A win, however, puts the Canucks on the right track and in the right frame of mind. And it puts them right in the standings.

Game Notes

David Booth and Aaron Rome both skated with the team this morning, but neither is expected to play tonight. Latendresse and Stoner are still out for the Wild. Luongo will start his 700th regular season game tonight.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Wake up! Forget about the Bruins and play tonight’s game. Use tonight’s game as a test on how to play a game the Canucks way. The Canucks are obviously capable of beating Minnesota, if not spank them, but they’re also capable of being spanked. The Canucks have to use tonight’s game as a dry run on how to win. Need some motivation? A loss in regulation and the Minnesota Wild is ONE point behind the Canucks in the standings. A regulation win puts the Canucks FIVE points up. And let’s end the first half of the season on a winning note, boys!
  2. Get the defence scoring points, especially on the power play. It is probably the biggest issue with the Canucks man advantage right now – the blueline isn’t contributing enough Specifically Sami Salo (as I wrote about yesterday) has gone to sleep on the power play and it’s costing his team. The defence needs to get active on the power play. They’ve been stagnant lately. Maybe it’s time to change up the D pairings as well.
  3. Get you faceoff working… because it will cost you otherwise. They beat Anaheim and San Jose with a strong showing in the faceoff dot. They got KILLED in Los Angeles because they were assaulted in faceoffs. Keeping the puck away from the Wild will be critical tonight, so winning faceoffs will be of the utmost importance.

The Links

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

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. For Canucks first the Wild, then the ‘Wow!’ (The Province)
  3. Canucks vs Wild game day (The Province)
  4. ‘Always room for improvement’ says Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Sun)
  5. Canucks mindful of home mastery of Wild (CBC Sports)