Canucks Army GDT #32 – Canucks vs. Flames

It’s a match up of the two biggest losers in the NHL tonight on Hockey Night in Canada, as the Canucks (0-4-1 in their last 5) take on the Calgary Flames (0-7-0 in their last 7). It’s a good chance for Vancouver to get back in the win column, and also a good chance to stay clear of the wild card race. The bountiful times in November are long gone, as the Canucks sit just two points ahead of the fifth place Flames in the Pacific division.

Read past the jump for a preview of tonight’s important tilt against the Calgary Flames.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: CBC

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

Defensive Pairings
Alexander Edler 
Alexander Edler
Chris Tanev 
Chris Tanev
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Kevin Bieksa 
Kevin Bieksa
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber

Alex Burrows will likely skate on the fourth line with Derek Dorsett and Bo Horvat. Jannik Hansen gets promoted into the top-6 in his place. Zack Kassian should return from injury soon after Christmas. Dan Hamhuis also skated for the first time today. Ryan Miller will start in goal.

Defensive Pairings
Mark Giordano 
Mark Giordano
T.J. Brodie 
T.J. Brodie
Kris Russell 
Kris Russell
Dennis Wideman 
Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz 
Raphael Diaz
Deryk Engelland 
Deryk Engelland

Matt Stajan will be scratched so Brandon Bollig can play his 28th game of the season. Jonas Hiller will get the start after losing 2-1 to the Dallas Stars last night.

Preview

The Canucks are likely at the lowest point of their season to date, having lost 2-0 to the Dallas Stars in their last outing, bringing their losing streak to five games. A regulation loss to the Flames tonight (coupled with an LA Kings win over Phoenix) would pull Calgary into a tie with the Canucks for the final playoff spot in the Western conference, although the Canucks would have the tiebreaker with the edge in both fewer games played and regulation and overtime wins. Still, it speaks to how fast any sort of slump can pull you right back in to the thick of things in the playoff race.

Fortunately for Vancouver, Calgary provides as good a chance as any to finally get back in the win column. While Vancouver may be in a bad slump, the Flames are in their worst losing streak in nearly 30 seasons, having dropped seven consecutive games in regulation. 

Long streaks such as this are never to be expected, but it’s not surprising that the Flames have cooled off significantly after a white hot start. They’re the second worst team in the West in score adjusted Corsi at 44.6%, Jonas Hiller is no longer stealing them games, and their offense has dried up. Even though they have a chance to tie Vancouver in the standings tonight, they look like a good bet to continue to fall out of the playoff race, as the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets likely pose the greatest threats of knocking Vancouver out of one of the two final wild card spots.

Alex Burrows has been demoted to the fourth line tonight, perhaps bumping Derek Dorsett back to his natural right side. Burrows has been slumping offensively of late, but the defensive impact he makes on Nick Bonino is undeniable. The second line has been better off with Burrows than without, and though Jannik Hansen is capable, I don’t think he has the same two-way upside.

Still, the fourth line definitely needs help driving play, as Horvat and Dorsett have proven unable to do that with Hansen on their right wing. Dorsett playing out of position may play a role in this deficiency, but I suspect that it has more to do with the line being centered by a 19-year old kid being who is close to NHL ready, but not quite there yet. Burrows may be able to help these guys drive play a little more and play in the offensive zone which is a good thing, but a reduction in 5v5 effectiveness from the second unit may not be worth the trade off.

Care to see what those Flames fans are saying about tonight, click here.

We’ll see how it goes tonight at 7:00 PM on Hockey Night in Canada.

  • Andy

    The Canucks have mentally got to get back into these games. You can call it confidence, breaks, luck or voodoo, whatever that is the Canucks need it back. My thoughts go back to the “almost” goal of Bonino that Price stopped miraculously. The camera sat on Bonino while the refs looked at the replay. He just shook his head. The whole tea seems to be doing that.

    Against Dallas it was 1 GA and we had more than one break, but couldn’t put the puck in the net. The chances are there, they just aren’t going in.

    The D has to stop trying to play defense/forward and just do their job… They are called D men for a reason. Be smarter with your pinches.

    Even with this slide the Canucks are in the top four of the playoff hunt, so tonight against an equally struggling team is the time to get two points and start a new feeling going into 2015.

  • Andy

    Man, I’d play Lack not Miller! Lets just win one game first, then let Miller play his way out of his slump. Ugh, I hope they’ll actually have the sense to pull him if he lets in a couple shaky ones early, ’cause I’m tired of watching us get blown out