All eyes will be on Luogno, as usual, in game 2.
Photograph by: (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
It didn’t take long for the Canucks to get their backs up against the wall in the 2013 playoffs. Teams have come back from 2-0 deficits in a playoff series in the past, hell it happens every second year or so, but usually that team is the road team. Vancouver’s already lost home-ice advantage, and the outlook for this series will turn grim if the team loses again on Friday night…
If they hope to avoid that fate, they’ll need to generate more quality looks and test Niemi. The Canucks only challenged Niemi with five difficult shots on Wednesday night, a paltry number and not nearly enough, especially when you consider that none of those shots came in the third period of a tied playoff game.
Read past the jump for more.
Puck Drop: 7 PM PST
The Sedin line was pretty much completely shutdown against the Sharks on Wednesday night, and Vancouver will be in tough if that happens again. It would be great if Alain Vigneault could get them a few additional shifts against Sharks defensive pairings that didn’t include Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but at the same time it’s on the twins to be better regardless of their matchup. Vlasic and Braun looked well prepared for the Sedins against the grain, corss-seam trickery on Wednesday night, so hopefully the Sedins can be a bit more unpredictable on Friday.
The major roster change for the Canucks will include bumping Ryan Kesler to the wing on the second line, where he’ll flank Derek Roy and Chris Higgins on the left-wing. The Canucks need to generate more offense against San Jose, and to that end I tend to like move a fair bit. Conceptually Kesler playing the wing just makes sense to me. He hasn’t been able to really drive play as a centre since his return from injury, but playing him with Derek Roy and Chris Higgins will help on that front. As a winger, Kesler can focus on just getting in and laying the body while forechecking, and look to generate chances coming off the wing with that wrist shot of his. If he’s been watching any Washington Capitals games this season, he may want to fake the wrister- and go to the backhand as Ovechkin has been doing all season if he gets the opportunity too…
With Derek Roy joining the top-six, I tend to think Vancouver’s third and fourth lines will be in tough. They played relatively well on Wednesday, but that was with Roy on the third line and Lapierre on the fourth. With those two moving up a line, more of the burden falls on guys like Mason Raymond and Andrew Ebbett who have underwhelmed for most of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vancouver’s top-six take it to the opposition while the bottom-six spends the majority of the game penned in Vancouver’s end.
The defence-pairings will remain the same, and rightly so since they played pretty well on Wednesday. It would be great if Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison could see more action, I don’t think they were sufficiently utilized on Wednesday. I’d also suggest that Corrado and Alberts should see fewer minutes on Friday night, and hopefully be a bit more exhaustively protected in terms of the matchups…
The Canucks need to score more goals and beyond bumping Kesler to the wing alongside Derek Roy, there are a couple of additional buttons that might be worth pressing if this game is close going into the latter half of the second period and the third. Vancouver’s best offensive pairing this season was Alex Edler and Jason Garrison, and Vigneault may want to consider uniting them on a pair that caddy’s the Sedin twins. Also how about putting Jason Garrison’s cannon shot on the first unit power-play? Just a thought…
The key for the Canucks tonight will be for the Sedins to play better, for the team as a whole to play more disciplined, and to not get their teeth handed to them in the faceoff circle. Even though Kesler is ostensibly lining up as a winger on Friday, expect him to take the bulk of defensive-zone draws for that line. Moving Lapierre up the lineup should help the team in the face-off circle as well.
Face-off matters, but discipline is more important, especially against the meat grinder that is the San Jose power-play. Younger players like Dale Weise and Zack Kassian in particular are going to need to check themselves and stay calm in limited minutes on Friday.
Cory Schneider is still out of the lineup so Roberto Luongo gets the start. If all else fails the Canucks will be counting on him to steal a game for them. Vancouver’s goalie kept Vancouver in the game in the first period, but he came a bit unglued in the third frame. Overall he played well enough for the team to win, but he’ll need to be better as well on Friday night.
Consider the following bets for tonight’s game:
Ryan Kesler to score the first goal at nine-to-one odds. Ryan Kesler’s line should come out buzzing on Friday, and I like his chances of opening the scoring in this one [PLACE YOUR BET HERE]. Even better, Play Now is currently offering a "Bet-Back Bonus" so if the Canucks surrender the first goal against but come back to win anyway, Play Now will refund all first scorer bet (up to $100) in game two. Seems like a worthwhile way to hedge your bet, eh? MORE DETAILS HERE.
Big Help from Bieksa. There’s a special bet tonight, priced at 6.00, that you can win if Bieksa scores a goal and the Canucks win. Bieksa has scored goals at an absurd rate all season long, and if Vancouver is looking to push the tempo on Friday you can rest assured that he’ll be aggressive in activating all game long. Also it’s worth remembering that Bieksa loves to play against the Sharks. PLACE YOUR BET HERE.
Leaning on the Tendy’s. If the Canucks win and both teams score under 5.5 goals you can win this special. Seems to me that this is a pretty safe bet to take if you already think Vancouver comes out of game two with the victory. This bet is priced out at 2.50 so PLACE YOUR BET HERE.
And don’t forget to use our special promo code and recieve $25 in betting credits at Play Now Sports. Go to this PlayNow Sports promo page, register for a PlayNow account, and insert the promo code "CANUCKSARMY" (all caps) and PlayNow Sports will give you $25 worth of "freebets."
Game Day Links
- Canucks need Lapierre to channel his inner Malhotra.
- Gallagher Profiles Sharks GM Doug Wilson.
- Did Bieksa Stick Havlat in the Groin (Yes)
- How Todd McLellan beat Vigneault in the Matchup Game.
- Sedins Need to Step Up
Don’t forget to play StreakCred the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Only $20 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. SIGN UP HERE.