Canucks Army GDT #25 – Blackhawks @ Canucks


All is forgiven, Ryan.

If you sat through a large chunk of the Canucks games over the past two weeks or so, I sure hope you were around for last night’s pay-off when the team snapped out of its scoring funk. They lit the lamp 6 times against a hapless Columbus Blue Jackets squad, finally converting their gaudy shot totals into some goals. 

Now, the naysayers will be quick to point out that it came against a team that’s not very good, and that’s totally fair. There’s no question that they took advantage of the situation on Friday night, but it’s still a better alternative than what happened a few nights before against the Panthers. Conveniently enough the Canucks won’t have to wait long to test their mettle against a better team, with Ryan Stanton’s former team coming into town for a main event showdown on Saturday night.

Read on past the jump for a preview of tonight’s game.

BROADCAST INFO

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PDT

TV: CBC

SETUP

With the Canucks having played just last night, there’s not too much in the way of news about their lineup. Given the success they had, though, I find it hard to believe that we’ll see a change in the way of line combinations.. at least to start. That means that we’ll likely see a ton of the Sedins/Kesler, and the Higgins-Santorelli-Burrows line. 

In net, Roberto Luongo will start for the first time in both games of a back-to-back this season. These types of situations have typically called for Eddie Lack to get some burn, but given the opponent, and the fact that Luongo didn’t exactly face that much work last night, the decision is quite understandable.

Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the visitors tonight (Daily Faceoff is having technical issues, so I just wrote the forward lines out manually):

L1: Saad – Toews – Sharp

L2: Versteeg – Pirri – Kane

L3: Morin – Shaw – ?

L4: Bickell – Kruger – Ben Smith

And on D:

A few thoughts on the Blackhawks: 

-As you may’ve noticed Marian Hossa is out tonight (due to family matters), and while I certainly hope everything is okay on that front, the fact that he won’t be playing is a nice little surprise for the Canucks and their fans. As you probably could’ve expected given the pedigree of the names involved, the Sharp-Toews-Hossa trio has been probably one of the best 2-3 lines this season.

In his absence, it looks like the Blackhawks will bump up Brandon Saad to the top line, where he spent a large majority of last season. They could’ve bumped Kane up to the top line and loaded things up a la Canucks, but they seem to enjoy having that secondary threat. It helps that Brandon Pirri has emerged as a nice young player, and that they got Kris Versteeg for next to nothing thanks to good ol’ Dale Tallon’s shenanigans. 

-Ryan Stanton has been a godsend for the Canucks – especially given what the team had been rolling out in that 6th defenseman spot in recent years – but it’s not like the Blackhawks exactly miss him. If Michal Rozsival is your 6th guy, you’re doing okay for yourself..

-Speaking of their defensemen, I’m not sure if the common fan is aware of just how important that Oduya-Hjalmarsson pairing is for this team. I wrote about them during the summer, and the point is still valid.. their presence has allowed the Blackhawks to lessen the burden on Keith and Seabrook, saving them for the latter part of the season and into the playoffs. Those two are logging a ton of heavy minutes, facing the best the other team has to offer, and have proven to be up to the task. That has been huge for Quenneville and Co.

-After his awesome playoff run last Spring, the Blackhawks rewarded Corey Crawford with a 6 year, $36 million extension which was a large point of contention. I personally like the goalie quite a bit, but it was fairly obvious that the team jumped the gun on that deal the second it was announced. Crawford’s numbers have ballooned from .926/1.94 up to .904/2.57 this season. It’s just that with the amount of goals the offense in front of him has been scoring, it hasn’t really mattered..

-The Blackhawks were in town last night, since they had a break in their schedule. If they come out sluggish early on, it’s a distinct possibility that the Player-of-the-Game Haida hat will go to the bartenders at The Roxy, for their fine performance last night.

THE NUMBERS GAME

  Blackhawks Canucks
Corsi Close % 58.3% (1st) 54.0% (5th)
5v5 GF/60 3.15 (1st) 2.51 (9th)
5v5 GA/60 2.43 (22nd) 2.15 (14th)
PDO 99.9 (14th) 99.9 (15th)
     
  Blackhawks Canucks
5v4 GF/60 8.03 (9th) 3.52 (29th)
5v4 SF/60 58.9 (9th) 66.5 (2nd)
4v5 GA/60 11.32 (29th) 3.30 (1st)
4v5 SA/60 52.4 (14th) 44.4 (3rd)
Penalty Differential +10 -6

Data comes from Extra Skater and NHL.com.

GAME DAY LINKS

PLAYNOW

Saturday Night Fireworks – You get $4.20 for every $1 you wager if the Canucks win a high-scoring game that results in over 5.5 combined goals. Chicago leads the league with 3.56 goals/game, and the Canucks just scored 6 last night, but for some reason I have a weird hunch that we’ll see a tightly played, low scoring affair. Just a hunch, though.

Henrik Stepping Up – If Henrik scores a goal in a win, you get 7-to-1 odds. I mean.. those are some nice odds, but what are the realistic chances that he scores again tonight after having 2 last night? Minimal, I’d say. Might be worth a sprinkle given the potential pay-off.

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