I was busy writing the preview for the Toronto-New York game up at sister website mapleleafsnation.com, so this one was a little slow to go up. Just think of it as your first experience with having Canucks content delayed by Leafs stuff, as it is one of those famous TSN doubleheaders with the Toronto game first and the Vancouver game second. Thankfully, the first one starts at 4…
Anyway, about this game, there’s a relatively small amount of buzz surrounding it, and Olympic team selections Brooks Orpik and Chris Kunitz, which I’m sure is the major draw going in. Minor matters, the Canucks are on a bit of a tailspin of late, losing four straight with their backup goaltender and resulting in a couple of curious lineup decisions. We think.
Also important, the return of Taylor Pyatt!
|Corsi Close %||50.4% (15th)||51.7% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.50 (7th)||2.35 (10th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.24 (14th)||2.13 (9th)|
|PDO||100.0 (16th)||100.6 (11th)|
|5v4 GF/60||9.98 (2nd)||4.89 (23rd)|
|5v4 SF/60||61.2 (3rd)||63.0 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||3.68 (2nd)||3.33 (1st)|
|4v5 SA/60||54.6 (20th)||40.2 (1st)|
|Penalty Differential||+14 (3rd)||+3 (12th)|
Nothing terribly exciting here, though we should note that the Penguins excellent 4-on-5 results are mostly due to goaltending, while the Canucks poor 5-on-4 results appear mostly related to goaltending. Special teams could be quite interesting here and if the Penguins take enough penalties, perhaps we’ll see some give on the Penguins league-high 4-on-5 save percentage of .933, and the Canucks second-last 5-on-4 shot percentage of 7.8%.
The Canucks should have a slim advantage at evens, but noise overrides such a menial difference. While Sidney Crosby is a pretty scary player at both ends, we should note that Evgeni Malkin’s line is susceptible on defence. If John Tortorella comes out and matches Malkin against Ryan Kesler instead of a checking line, we might have a good hockey game on our hands. Malkin’s Relative CF% is just +0.5, which is lower than you’d expect. This line is driven at evens by Crosby, who also takes on “checking centre” responsibilities. He is very good.
This is the big news today though. It was announced that David Booth and Dale Weise will sit in favour of Darren Archibald and Chris Higgins, who returns to the lineup after a one game absence. Best I can tell:
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Mike Santorelli
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Zack Kassian
Benn Ferreiro – Brad Richardson – Jannik Hansen
Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Darren Archibald
I can live with David Booth being a scratch. The guy goes through stretches dominating possession and taking shots, and then sort of sleeps through two weeks and everybody starts to get on his case again. I can accept that this is one of those times. He went two games shot-less after looking pretty good against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
But is Benn Ferreiro or Darren Archibald really going to provide you with more expected production? I’m not sure I buy that. We know that defence matters, and we know that Booth doesn’t routinely get out-shot more than his teammates. I find it odd how much he’s struggled to find form under John Tortorella. He’s coming back from various injuries but Tortorella has been patient with those.
Onto some good news though:
Alex Edler and Alex Burrows taking part in morning skate. Burrows wearing protective face guard, as well as regular visor. Canucks
— Cam Tucker (@CamTucker_Metro) January 7, 2014
I get that Alex Edler is a bit of a polarizing figure around here as well, but the Canucks are looking pretty thin on defence right now:
Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Kevin Bieksa – Frank Corrado
Jason Garrison – Yannick Weber
Even the Canucks’ expected injury replacement is out with injury. Still, this group of six is no worse than any group of six you might find elsewhere in the NHL.
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal
Tanner Glass – Brandon Sutter – Taylor Pyatt
Deryk Engelland – Joe Vitale – Craig Adams
Rob Scuderi – Kris Letang
Simon Despres – Brooks Orpik
Olli Maatta – Matt Niskanen
The Penguins went to the Random Name Generator to find Brian Gibbons, an undrafted college free agent from Boston College who played two full seasons in the AHL before being one of the (many) Penguins injury call-ups.
Goalies tonight are Edward Lack, Esq. and mostly likely the Olympic snub Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury hasn’t been confirmed but he’s a workhorse for the Penguins and they aren’t in any half of a back-to-back right now. He’s also having a terrific season, oddly enough.
Puck drop is a little after 7. Live on TSN, but the first five minutes could be on TSN2. Rhys has the postgame. Enjoy.