Canucks Army GDT #39 – Canucks vs Panthers

A mid-January home date against a middle-of-the pack former Southeast division opponent isn’t exactly one that would be circled so boldly on the calendar for Canucks fans, especially not one against a team as inoffensive as the Florida Panthers. Tonight, however, is different. One of Vancouver’s greatest heroes-turned-villain-turned-hero-once-again is back, as Roberto Luongo takes the crease in Vancouver for the first time since unceremoniously being shipped out at the 2014 trade deadline.

The game likely won’t be as exciting as the reception for Vancouver’s best goalie ever is sure to be, but read past the jump for a preview.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Courtesy of DailyFaceoff.com

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

Alex Burrows will continue to skate on line 1. Radim Vrbata will return to the lineup, taking Linden Vey’s place on line 2. Brad Richardson will play after leaving last game with an injury. Frank Corrado has been recalled from Utica, but will not play. Dan Hamhuis is getting closer to returning from injury as he practiced with the team on Thursday. Ryan Miller gets the start in net.

Defensive Pairings
Brian Campbell 
Brian Campbell
Aaron Ekblad 
Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell 
Willie Mitchell
Dmitry Kulikov 
Dmitry Kulikov
Shane O'Brien 
Shane O’Brien
Dylan Olsen 
Dylan Olsen

Al Montoya has re-joined the team after the birth of his child and will back up tonight. Some guy named Roberto Luongo will start for the Panthers. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

Head to Head

G39 v FLA

Storylines

  • Youth Movement – The Florida Panthers have been playing some solid hockey of late and look to be in the mix for a playoff spot in the Atlantic division, sitting just three points behind Boston with four games in hand. Most of this has to do with the play of their young core. Aaron Ekblad is the likely Calder trophy favourite and on pace for a staggering 50 points – nearly unheard of for a 19-year old defenseman – and Alex Barkov is playing tough minutes against top competition and still managing to carry a 54.8% Corsi. 22-year old Nick Bjugstad, who Mike Gillis desperately wanted as a part of the return for Roberto Luongo, is leading the team in scoring with 15 goals and 9 assists in 37 games played.
  • Special Teams – The Vancouver Canucks have struggled at even strength this season, but have been able to remain competitive thanks to an elite penalty kill and an improving power play. Their division-leading +12 goal differential can be attributed almost entirely to special teams too, as Vancouver is +13 at 5-on-4 and 4-on-5 combined. Removing their +6 empty net goal differential, they’re a minus-7 in all other situations.
  • Return of the King – Of course, all the above is just window dressing for the main show tonight: the return of Roberto Luongo to Vancouver. Luongo is indisputably the best goaltender that the Vancouver Canucks have ever had, leading the franchise in all-time wins and shutouts, while trailing only Cory Schneider (who played fewer than 25% of the games Luongo did) in save percentage. Luongo also holds the single season records for most wins (47), most games played (76), most shutouts (9), and longest shutout streak (242:36). He also played a major role in carrying Vancouver to the Stanley Cup finals in 2011, tying Kirk MacLean’s records for most playoff wins (15) and shutouts (4) in a single playoff run. Tonight marks his first game in Vancouver since being dealt last season, and he is sure to be warmly welcomed back.

Gameday Reading

      • Francesco Aquillini is like Gordon Gecko.

        Nothing ruins his day more than losses…

        A 2nd straight year without the playoffs may be what it takes to get off of the Calgary Flames path and take some significant risk to change the outlook of the organization.

        At the individual level, I want Lou to beat Miller.

        At the team level, I’m starting to drift over to where I was last year.

        What the hell is the point of battling tooth and nail every year as the core gets older – or members gets traded – just to try and make the playoffs as an underdog?

        It’s time we all embrace delaying gratification…

        • Mantastic

          Come on Mo Mo!

          The Canucks aren’t on a Flames path and why any fan would look to follow Buffalo’s or Oilers path is terrifying. Let’s say the Canucks traded the entire core and finished at the bottom along side Sabers and Oil…. Then by a bounce of the Ping pong ball get 3rd… Whoops?,the Generational stars such as Ovie or Crosby hasn’t yielded huge returns because Crosby needs Malkin also. The trend is towards a Kings style approach. Doughty is a wonderful player bout underrated, they were a struggling team until they acquired Gaborik and the whole team took off.

          Let’s see how the next couple of months play out?! The Canucks have 4 first round picks the last two years… Didnt see the Flames do that? The goaltending depth from Miller to Demko could bring serious returns. An article about Minny looking at trades for goalies. The Canucks are a good team in a great division, who knows what trades will be out there as the playoffs approach.

          The Sky is falling chicken little stuff is getting old!

        • Mantastic

          Goddamn you just about have me convinced. Not to cheer against them but to turn the TV off, as I did during that disastrously terrible PP late in the game. Good lord these aren’t even the worldbeaters, the Canucks have looked absolutely awful against these Eastern Conference teams. But to squander those chances at the end of the game and to not even register a shot I think until halfway through the third? Zero sense of urgency on the top line. It’s madness to sit your top-line players on the PP but that was just embarrassing. We didn’t deserve to win that game in any way. We should lose four points for crap efforts like that. Pathetic.

  • Mantastic

    The last time I saw these two guys battle on this ice I was praying to the television so hard for Miller’s demise. My prayers were answered, so I figure I owe Miller one. He gets my support tonight, with the hopes that Lu puts on a show and loses.

  • Mantastic

    The facial expressions in the picture at the top of this post makes Luongo look like Ted and Henrik look like Bill.

    Cameo in the upcoming Bill & Ted confirmed?