The Canucks and Oilers played each other just 6 days ago, and while that can have its advantages in terms of things spilling over from one meeting to the other, helping build a story of sorts.. it makes previewing the game the second time out a total nuisance. What else is there to say? Not much has really changed since the January 21st game preview.
But thankfully, we’ve got a player making his return to the Canucks lineup tonight to report on, plus some thoughts on tonight’s starting goaltender. So read on past the jump for more on that..
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet
That’s the lineup we’re expecting to see from the Canucks, at least according to Daily Faceoff. Obviously the big thing of note is that Jordan Schroeder will be making his return to the team. He had an assist over the weekend during his 2-game rehab stint with Utica while they were in Abbotsford. He has had all sorts of trouble staying healthy over the past year, dealing with (by my count) 3 different noteworthy injuries that have sidelined him for an extended period of time.
He’s a former 1st round pick, so he’ll be given ample opportunity to try and establish an NHL career for himself (if not in Vancouver, then elsewhere), but he’s already used up a couple of those chances, and he’s an impending RFA this summer. With Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli both out, Schroeder has the best shot he’ll probably get to try and make some sort of impact for a team that really needs some help offensively. I guess we’ll see over the next little while what he legitimately has to offer.
I do find it interesting that Dale Weise sits instead of Kellan Lain, seeing as Lain played 2:21 v. Phoenix last night. I’d hate to think that Tortorella is keeping him in the lineup because he scored a goal v. this team last time they played. That’d be silly. But who knows.. Weise did take a fairly dumb goaltender interference penalty on Mike Smith last night.
Another big storyline tonight will be surrounding Zack Kassian, as I’m sure all eyes will be on him. Following their last meeting, when Edmonton’s resident face puncher Luke Gazdic made no real effort whatsoever to "make Kassian answer the bell", Dallas Eakins compared the situation to Bertuzzi/Moore. We’ll see how the entire situation is handled tonight, but quite frankly, I’m pretty over talking about it. Plus.. from a hockey perspective, the Canucks can’t really afford to have Kassian sit in the penalty box for 5 minutes..
"6 | The number of the beast, and fittingly, points for Zack Kassian, who is a beast, in the month of January. Kassian has registered 3 goals and 3 assists this month, which is one more point than he put up in January of last year, when he scored five goals in the first month coming out of the lockout and got everyone’s hopes way up. It’s the most productive month of his short NHL career. How productive is it? Kassian’s outproducing Daniel Sedin this month."
That was from a post today by our friends over at Pass it to Bulis. Over the past 6 games, Kassian has been on the ice for 71 shot attempts for at 5v5, and only 54 against (good for a 56.8 CF%). He has shown a notable improvement, and I personally thought he was by far the team’s best skater last night against the ‘Yotes. The Canucks need him on the ice making plays with his vision and passing, not sitting in the box along with a guy that rarely ever sees the ice anyways.
Let’s get to the underlying data for the Canucks heading into tonight’s game:
|Corsi Close %||51.8% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.32 (14th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.08 (7th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.26 (29th)|
|5v4 SF/60||58.8 (3rd)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.09 (3rd)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.5 (1st)|
The only thing that I feel the need to point out from an Oilers perspective is that they’re starting Ilya Bryzgalov, after having started Ben Scrivens last night. Whatever you think about Bryzgalov, that’s a smart move by Dallas Eakins, solely because of the fact that you should really never start a goaltender in back legs of a back-to-back:
John Tortorella Mike Sullivan will be breaking this cardinal rule, as he’s giving the crease to Luongo again. Roberto Luongo, by the way, has a .910 career sv% in the 2nd game of a back-to-back (while being a .920 sv% goaltender for his career).
I don’t really get this move by the Canucks bench boss, especially considering that: a) Luongo didn’t exactly have the easiest of games last night, b) the Oilers are the type of team that you should be OK feeding Eddie Lack to, and c) there’s a game against the Blackhawks looming just 2 days away. It might not ultimately wind up mattering (since the Oilers are the Oilers), but it’s still something that grinds my gears.
Anyways, here are their underlying numbers on the season:
|Corsi Close %||44.1% (28th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.10 (20th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.93 (30th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.74 (21st)|
|5v4 SF/60||48.0 (25th)|
|4v5 GA/60||5.82 (12th)|
|4v5 SA/60||56.5 (24th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
It has been a rough week for Former Canucks Greats, you guys. First Mikael Samuelsson and Shane O’Brien were put on waivers by their respective clubs. And then today, news broke that Marco Sturm – he of the 6 games, 0 points, 3 shots on goal, a -5, and 13:53/game in a Canucks uniform – announced his official retirement from hockey.
If you’re Jason Jaffray, you’ve got to be sweating the next few days out..