Canucks Army GDT #34 – Canucks @ Ducks

The Vancouver Canucks look to pick up their winning ways from before the break, kicking off a three-game stretch playing solely against California teams. These games make for a good measuring stick for Vancouver, who to their credit, have been able to mask middling possession play and terrible goaltending thus far in the young 2014-15 campaign with relative success.

First up for Vancouver are the Anaheim Ducks, who feature former Canuck and lifetime naughty list VIP Ryan Kesler. The Ducks are on the second half of back-to-back games, having lost a close one last night to the Arizona Coyotes. Can Vancouver take advantage of favourable scheduling and an injury depleted Ducks lineup to leave the Honda Center victorious?

Well, lets see what the other side of the jump has to say about it.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 5:00 PM PST

TV: TVA and City

Radio: TSN 1040 AM

Lineup

Courtesy of www.DailyFaceoff.com

Vancouver:

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

Not many changes from the lineup that decimated the Arizona Coyotes heading into the Christmas Break. Derek Dorsett finds himself planted on Nick Bonino’s right flank, playing on the second line. Jannik Hansen has been inserted back into the lineup, in his usual fourth line role, along with Alex Burrows. Ryan Miller gets the start in goal. 

Anaheim:

Defensive Pairings
Cam Fowler 
Cam Fowler
Ben Lovejoy 
Ben Lovejoy
Francois Beauchemin 
Francois Beauchemin
Hampus Lindholm 
Hampus Lindholm
Clayton Stoner 
Clayton Stoner
Sami Vatanen 
Sami Vatanen

This Ducks lineup has just been ravaged by injuries. So much so that “50 in ’07” himself, Dany Heatley, has found himself a spot in the lineup and Rene Bourque is a member of the first line. Cory Perry is out with a knee injury, hence the opening on Ryan Getzlaf’s flank. Nothing confirmed yet, but I’d expect Frederik Andersen to get the start in goal. 

Preview

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Vancouver and Anaheim were neck and neck for the division lead in the Pacific. Vancouver’s forgettable December, which saw them post a 4-4-1 record did much of the work in creating this separation. For their part, Anaheim was a team possessed going into the Christmas Break, going 9-2 before taking a brief respite from hockey. 

The Ducks struggle with puck possession in a similar sense to the Canucks, finding themselves separated by just one team in Corsi%. Possession stats can be just a little misleading with the Ducks though, as they are one of the few NHL teams that legitimately excel at forcing low-percentage shots from the outside. Actually, I remember Tyler Dellow putting this theory to the test on his now deceased blog and Anaheim passing with flying colours. It would certainly explain how they outperform their average-at-best possession numbers with regularity. 

A key cog in Anaheim’s success this season has been the play of netminder Frederik Andersen. When the bodies were falling like dominoes and the defensive injuries mounted to the point where Eric Brewer was seen as worthwhile trade piece, Andersen held the fort. His play has cooled down slightly, and Andersen now posts a .916sv% for his troubles. Not bad for a goalie who was pegged to lose his grip on the starting reins to John Gibson. 

When these two clubs last met, it was a goaltending showdown, finished by my favourite not-gimmick ever the shootout. Bonino scored and Kesler missed. This much I remember. Does anything else matter? 

Back to Kesler, though. The ex-Canucks shutdown center spent much of his night against the Sedins and for his troubles kept them largely in check. I’d expect Bruce Boudreau to deploy him in a similar fashion tonight; especially with home-ice advantage.

There are many reasons the Canucks will struggle to get respect this season. Firstly, who are you kidding if you don’t think the #embracethehate thing is still real? Secondly, they’ve probably punched way above their weight class. Their last trip to California saw Vancouver play two respectable periods over a span of three games. If this club wants to be taken seriously, they’re going to have to string together extended stretches of good play against the behemoths of the hockey world – teams like the Anaheim Ducks. 

Is there any better way to exit the break? Hardly.