Game #29 Preview: Blues @ Canucks

Jordan Schroeder did something well, but the Canucks aren’t celebrating. They’re trying to get him back on the bench, per the coaches orders. That’s how  Alain Vigneault rolls.

It’s a short turn-around for the Vancouver Canucks, as they don’t have very much time to dwell on their perplexing loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The St. Louis Blues come into town, and things could get ugly if the Canucks don’t figure out a way to turn things around on the fly. Especially given how well the opposition has been playing in recent weeks.

Forget the Northwest Division title for now; the Canucks flat out need to start getting some wins. They are 3-5-2 in their last 10, and suddenly find themselves in a fight just to stay in the Western Conference’s top 8. A good place to start the climb back up the standings would be tonight against a fellow puck possession juggernaut.

Read on Past the Jump for More on the Game.

Broadcast Info: 

Puckdrop: 7 PM PST

Television: TSN

Radio: Team 1040


Unsurprisingly, Cory Schneider gets the nod tonight. I mentioned in last night’s game recap that the Canucks currently sit at 19th in even strength save percentage, and that needs to get better. Schneider hasn’t played since March 10th against Minnesota, where he was lit up for 4 goals against. With Luongo’s recent struggles, he has a chance here to get himself a string of starts.

Zack Kassian draws back into the lineup, as his back is apparently good to go. The last time we saw him, he was benched in the 3rd period against the Nashville Predators for attempting a Sedin-esque pass. An interesting prop bet for tonight’s game may be trying to figure out whether it’s Kassian that gets curiously benched first, or Jordan Schroeder. Speaking of Schroeder, he was fantastic last night despite the way his coach decided to deploy him. I sincerely hope he gets at least double digit minutes tonight. But who knows. 

According to reports, the same 6 defensemen are expected to suit up for the Canucks tonight. Yes, that means that Keith Ballard gets to play, even after last night’s debacle of a miscue in the 3rd period. Maybe Alain Vigneault really is losing it.

The Blues are going good right now, as they come into this one having won 5 of their last 6 games. They’re showing what happens when your goaltender can make a few saves for you. Oddly enough, the man doing the job for them hasn’t been Jaroslav Halak, nor has it been Brian Elliott. Instead, Jake Allen has come up from the AHL and done a wonderful job of doing just enough to allow them to win the games they were losing early in the year. He’ll get the start again tonight.

What the St. Louis Blues are doing right now is essentially what those of us that have been preaching "the process" are hoping to see from the Canucks. Hopefully. They were a strong possession team all year long that was being held back by poor luck, and shaky goaltending. Eventually things came together for them, and now they’re making a run. Take note.

Finally, let’s end with a little programming note. This game will be shown on TSN, which is great for a variety of reasons. The commentary is significantly better than Sportsnet’s, and the panels during intermission actually provide us with useful discussion. Unfortunately, TSN also refuses to stagger their games, which means that the early game sometimes bleeds into the start of the Canucks game. Be prepared to curse at your television, as you may miss the first few minutes of this one.

Numbers Game:

  Blues Canucks
Record 16-10-2 13-9-6
Goal Differential +5 -2
PP % 24.7% (1st) 14.0% (27th)
PK % 81.2% (14th) 80.4% (16th)
FO % 49.6% (18th) 47.2% (27th)
Corsi % 51.0% (14th) 53.6% (5th)
Fenwick Close % 54.7% (4th) 53.8% (5th)
Team PDO 99.1 (22nd) 100.6 (9th)

Game Day Links:

  • Mantastic

    Hasn’t Schroeder been up against 3rd/4th lines all year? I know his line-mates aren’t great, but he’s starting in the offensive zone a lot and against weak competition. He could definitely use more minutes, but with the injuries we have, we can’t really afford to shelter a play for long stretches of the game. With Kesler out, the Sedins are already playing vs. the toughest competition they’ve faced in years.

    I know Canucks fans get a little over excited about prospects, because we haven’t had any great ones for a while, but is it so shocking that AV doesn’t put his trust in a player who can’t produce in sheltered minutes when the team can’t afford experiments?