Canucks Army GDT #59 – Canucks @ Islanders

The Vancouver Canucks continue their Eastern road swing this afternoon, visiting the Metropolitan division leading New York Islanders. With their win over the New York Rangers on Thursday, the Canucks pulled themselves to second in the Pacific division, but a loss over the lowly Devils prevented them from putting some daylight between themselves and the Wild and Sharks. As it stands, the Canucks sit just two points out of a tie for 9th in the conference, so this afternoon’s two points are critical.

Read past the jump for a preview of this afternoon’s game.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 3:00 PM PST

TV: CITY TV

Radio: TSN 1040

Lineups

Defensive Pairings
Dan Hamhuis 
Dan Hamhuis
Yannick Weber 
Yannick Weber
Luca Sbisa 
Luca Sbisa
Alex Biega 
Alex Biega
Ryan Stanton 
Ryan Stanton
Adam Clendening 
Adam Clendening

Zack Kassian will take Alex Burrows’ spot with the Sedins (!?) as Burrows is out with an ailment tonight. Shawn Matthias will move up to centre Chris Higgins and Radim Vrbata. Linden Vey will play with Brandon McMillan and Derek Dorsett on what’s realistically the fourth line, while Bo Horvat’s line will remain intact. Ryan Miller will start in net.

Defensive Pairings
Nick Leddy 
Nick Leddy
Johnny Boychuk 
Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan 
Calvin de Haan
Travis Hamonic 
Travis Hamonic
Lubomir Visnovsky 
Lubomir Visnovsky
Thomas Hickey 
Thomas Hickey

Lubomir Visnovsky will return to the Isles’ lineup as Brian Strait sits. Jaroslav Halak will play in goal as backup Chad Johnson picked up the shootout loss to the Capitals yesterday.

Head to Head

G59 @ NYI

Storylines

  • Man on Fire – Zack Kassian will start the game playing with the Sedins tonight, and it will be interesting to see how long Willie Desjardins is willing to let this experiment last. It worked well last game, as Kassian provided the only offence the Canucks could muster against the New Jersey Devils, scoring twice in Vancouver’s 4-2 loss. Since the All-Star break, Kassian has 5 goals and 3 assists at even strength in 9 games, and is second in the NHL in both Goals/60 and Pts/60, trailing only L.A’s Tyler Toffoli in both categories. He’s also carrying a personal shooting percentage north of 40%, and leads the NHL with an on-ice shooting percentage of 20.5% since this time, so he’s bound to cool off soon. A strong game with the Sedins tonight may buy him some more time in the lineup, however.
  • Halak Attack – Despite sitting 3rd in the NHL in wins with 32, Jaroslav Halak has struggled at times this year with the Islanders, posting a rather pedestrian 0.911 save percentage. Still, it’s a testament to just how far the Isles have come over just the last offseason that Halak could set a franchise record for most wins by an Islanders netminder in one season with a win tonight. They’re one of the league’s top teams by shot attempt metrics, and have excelled nearly everywhere except for on the penalty kill and in net. Look for them to give the Canucks a tough game, despite playing just over 24 hours ago.
  • Radim in a Rut – After catching fire immediately after the All-Star break, Radim Vrbata has gone pointless in his last 4 games – his longest drought of the season. This is largely due to some bad luck and poor linemates though. Linden Vey hasn’t been able to centre an NHL line this season, and has had his lunch fed to him since Brad Richardson and Nick Bonino went down with injury. Vrbata will play with Shawn Matthias and Chris Higgins tonight on what should be a much more effective second unit.
  • andyg

    Interesting the tone of Kassian playing with the Twins. He played well last game and a benching is already expected?

    I do hope Burr gets back soon! Wierd scoring SO winner, then missing two games. Hold it together on the road until the club gets healthy

  • Canuck4Life20

    I was hoping that we would see Jensen over McMillan.

    And Dorsett should be the next one to sit down when someone comes back. I like his willingness to drop the gloves but he has been brutal offensively since early in the season. There’s no way he should be on the 2nd power play over Kassian or even Matthias.

  • Canuck4Life20

    Perhaps McMillan is getting another chance to demonstrate his ineffectiveness at the NHL level so that he can clear waivers for Utica’s Calder push…