Game #43 Preview – A Shadow of their Former Selves

Here is a shot of the Canucks last game in Florida. Kesler is clearly trying to skate-stomp the ankle of
fellow American (and now current teammate) David Booth.
Oh and look, there’s Steve Bernier struggling to breathe while skating.
(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #43 – Canucks @ Panthers

They survived "The Re-match" with most of their soldiers coming out alive from the Battle of Beantown. They lost two good men, but their losses will not be in vain, as the 2012th regiment of the Canucks continue to fight the war as they travel down the Eastern seaboard to battle the … Florida Panthers (?!?!).

Ok, it’s not that dramatic. The Canucks face the Panthers tonight, or as we like to call them here in Vancouver… the Florida "Former and Future Canucks".

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 4:30 PM PT

TV: RSN-PAC Radio: Team1040

The Setup

Tonight will showcase the EXACT OPPOSITE emotional spectrum for the Canucks of their last game. Last game, they faced their most recent, and now arguably their most hated playoff rival. Tonight, it’s class reunion time. It’s well documented that the Canucks and Panthers are frequent trade partners. A lot of old friends and former teammates will square off against one another tonight. Current Canucks that are former Panthers are Roberto Luongo, David Booth, Chris Higgins, Mike Duco, and Alex Sulzer. The list of current Panthers that are former Canucks includes Mikael Samuelsson, Marco Sturm, Ed Jovanovski, and Mike Weaver. Then there’s the farm team players like Victor Oreskovich, Steven Reinprecht, and Byron Bitz.

Playing the "Class Reunion" game is going to be a huge letdown for the Canucks after beating a division rival, then a hated playoff rival in back-to-back games. There is no hatred or animosity or any emotion whatsoever between Vancouver and Florida. It’s total apathy to the highest order. Which, given the emotions of their game against Boston, might not be such a bad thing. It’s a great way to swing back into real life again. They don’t have to dial up their emotions again. They don’t have to think about fights or on-ice politics or rivalries. Nope, tonight is just about hockey and playing a decent team.

Make no mistake though, Florida is still Florida. Their 3rd place showing in the standings is highly deceiving, as is their point total. Currently, the Panthers are 20-13-8 for 48 points and a lead in the Southeast division. But the truth is that they have lost more than they’ve won, have only 18 non-shootout wins, and a -8 goal differential. They’re 18th in total goals-for and 12th in total goals-against, 21st in 5-on-5 GF/GA, 13th on the powerplay, 23rd on the penalty kill, 18th in faceoff winning %. The Panthers are a middling team slugging their way through the season, yet are fortunate enough to play in a terrible division, giving them a 3rd place spot in the East.

The Canucks have played a trap game against Minnesota, then rolled into Boston to play a supremely emotional game… Tonight, the Canucks play the letdown game. That’s quite the trifecta of hockey emotions. They won the trap game. They won the highly emotional. And now on to the letdown game.

Game Notes

David Booth has been medically cleared to play but still won’t be in the lineup for the Canucks. With Andrew Ebbett out with a broken collarbone, Mike Duco joins the club from the Chicago Wolves. Sami Salo is out with a concussion, but there is no word yet on who will take his place on the blue line. If no call-ups are made, Alex Sulzer will draw in.

In their last visit to Florida, Roberto Luongo and the Canucks shut out the Panthers 3-0.

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. You’ve left Boston, so leave the Bruins and that game behind. Enough about Saturday. The Canucks have to get focused on tonight. Luckily the change of scenery couldn’t be more stark so hopefully that will help snap the Canucks collectively into the game tonight.
  2. Win the faceoff battle. The Canucks need a much better showing in the faceoff circle than their last game, in order to control play at even strength.
  3. Get the first goal… quickly. The Panthers have only lost 1 game in regulation when they score the first goal. They score, get an early lead and try to lock down the game. The Canucks get that first goal and they start playing MORE up-tempo. So get the first goal and step on the gas.

The Links

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

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. It’s hard to beat the beach and harder to beat the new-look Panthers (The Province)
  3. It has to be more than Mike just putting up his Ducos for Canucks (The Province)
  4. Sami Salo won’t play Florida Panthers after suffering Marchand’s hit (Vancouver Sun)
  5. Sunshine State of Mind (