I’m going to refrain for starting this post off with the "things can only get better, right?" lede, because as we learned last night, that’s not necessarily a given. I plugged yesterday’s game against Anaheim like that, thinking that the Ducks couldn’t possibly hand the Canucks a more one-sided butt whooping than the one they did back on January 5th..
.. but then they did. To the tune of an embarrassing 9-1 defeat. So I guess that was a lesson that you should never take your current situation for granted because it can always get worse. With all of that being said, there’s some reason for optimism tonight. Olympic Diver Mike Smith has had a .900 save % performance just once in his last 7 starts, and the Coyotes as a team have reallly been sputtering as a result.
Just like the Canucks, they have only 1 win in the month of January. SOMETHING’S GOT TO GIVE! THE CANUCKS.. THE COYOTES.. A PACIFIC DIVISION RIVALRY GAME! GET. PUMPED.
Puck Drop: 6:00 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
I’ve attached a really interesting graphic provided to us by Gus Katsaros below. Just to clear things up, a "tired" game is one in which you’re playing a 2nd leg of a back-to-back. On the other end of the spectrum a "rested" team is one that was off the night before while their opponent played. As you can see below the Canucks were dealt a pretty crappy hand in this regard, with their 15th tired games being tied for the 2nd most in the league (with most teams having significantly fewer such situations). Fortunately for them they’ve done really well so far, going 6-2-2..
Perhaps the biggest nuisance accompanying the 2nd leg of a back-to-back is the fact that we really have no definitive news regarding the lineup all the way up until warm-ups. There’s a good chance that Kellan Lain could make his NHL debut, but in place of who? David Booth and Dale Weise would’ve been the most likely candidates as recently as this time yesterday, but they were 2 of the better players out there for the Canucks v. Anaheim, so it’s hard to envision them being punished.
Whatever happens, I selfishly hope Lain gets a look if only so that we get to see him go up against Marty Hanzal in the faceoff circle. Both guys are listed at 6’6”, and that could prove to be quite the spectacle. Getting excited about these sorts of things is what it has come to.
As for the goaltender, Roberto Luongo is officially listed as a "game-time decision", though it sounds like he probably won’t be back until Saturday v. Calgary. Lack was pulled early in the 2nd period last night so fatigue shouldn’t necessarily be an issue for him, but at the same time I could envision a scenario in which Tortorella gives Eriksson the shot as something of a reward for biting the bullet and taking the beating last night. I’d actually like to see that, personally, but at this point the Canucks don’t really have time for sentimentality.
Let’s get to the underlying numbers:
|Corsi Close %||51.5% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.32 (14th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.14 (10th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.72 (24th)|
|5v4 SF/60||60.6 (3rd)|
|4v5 GA/60||3.73 (2nd)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.6 (2nd)|
The thing about the recent struggles for the Phoenix Coyotes is that they were completely predictable. Look back at Cam Charron’s preview for the last time these two teams faced each other back on December 6th, which kind of coincides with the onset of their downward spiral. They were 16-8-4 coming into that night, but they were 25th in Corsi Close %, and Charron openly proclaimed that they were due for some regression.
Well.. they’re 5-8-5 since then, and have clearly been unable to hold that very regression off even though they’ve actually upped their possession rate by nearly 2% since the last time we saw them. Most of that likely has to do with Mike Smith, who I;d imagine is devoting most of his $34 million to building a time machine that can take him back to 2011.
|Corsi Close %||49.3% (19th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.44 (7th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.30 (18th)|
|5v4 GF/60||7.09 (8th)|
|5v4 SF/60||53.7 (12th)|
|4v5 GA/60||7.52 (26th)|
|4v5 SA/60||61.2 (26th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
So maybe you missed the news earlier today, but this morning we announced a viewing party that we’ll be hosting for Canucks/Blackhawks on the 29th. It’s at The Pint, it’s good a good cause, and there’s all sorts of goodies that you’ll receive with a ticket purchase. All of the details are here. I know that I speak for everyone affiliated with this blog when I say that I hope I see you there!