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Canucks game day: Looking to bounce back against Bedard and the Blackhawks

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Photo credit:© Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
2 months ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (20-9-2) will get their first look at North Vancouver native Connor Bedard when they face the highly-touted rookie and the Chicago Blackhawks (9-19-1) at United Center. The game comes 24 hours after the Canucks fell 2-1 in a shootout in Minnesota on Saturday afternoon.
The Canucks power play let them down going 0 for 5 against the Wild. The Canucks were also unable to break the game open in 3-on-3 overtime and then failed to score on three shootout attempts. While they picked up a single point for their efforts, the Canucks saw their four game win streak halted.
After watching from the bench as the back-up yesterday, Thatcher Demko is expected to return to the net today. Demko stopped all 36 shots he faced in his last start in Thursday’s 4-0 win against Florida. That was Demko’s third shutout of the season.
Quinn Hughes doesn’t have much time to rest and recover after playing 4:17 of overtime yesterday. He played the first minute of OT, then had a 43 second break before playing the final 3:17 of the hockey game. His 28:43 total was his third highest ice time of the season and the most he’s played since scoring the overtime winner in a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on November 15th.
JT Miller was held off the scoresheet against the Wild. More than that, he had just one shot on goal making it two straight games the Canucks scoring leader has registered just a single shot on net. Miller leads the Canucks with 43 points, but has scored just two goals in his last 11 games. Sunday will be the 750th regular season contest of his NHL career.
With the quick turnaround, it’s possible that Rick Tocchet will make one change to his forward group. Nils Aman is the lone extra and has been a healthy scratch for the past two games. He could draw in on Sunday likely taking the place of Phil Di Giuseppe.
The last place Blackhawks have dropped three straight and seven of their last nine games. They were blitzed 7-1 in Seattle in their last game on Thursday night. Taylor Raddysh had their lone goal. After a 5-7 start through a dozen games, the Hawks have fallen on hard times with just four wins in  their past 17 games. 
Connor Bedard has been everything the Hawks had hoped he would be when they selected him first overall in June’s draft. The youngest player in the league (he doesn’t turn 19 until July 17th) leads the team in goals, assists, points and shots on goal and has 12+12=24 and 89 shots in his first 29 NHL games. Of Bedard’s 12 goals, 11 have come at even-strength. He is the only player on his team with more than 16 points on the season.
Former Canuck Anthony Beauvillier has 1+1=2 in seven games since being acquired in a late November trade. Another former Canuck Jason Dickinson has nine goals and is second on the team in that department.
Aside from Bedard and Dickinson, goals have been hard for the Hawks to come by. They are the second lowest scoring team in the NHL averaging 2.31 goals per game. A big part of that is a power play that is limping along at 9.9% for the season. Lukas Reichel and Philipp Kurashev share the team lead with two power play goals apiece. As a team, Chicago has managed only nine power play goals on 91 attempts.
The Hawks are without defenceman Seth Jones who leads the team – and sits in the top 10 in the league – in average ice time logging 25:25 per game. He has been placed on the injured list with a shoulder issue.
Despite the team struggles, Petr Mrazek has held his own in goal for Chicago. He is 7-9 on the season with a 3.04 GAA, a .910 save percentage and a shutout.
This is the first of three meetings between these teams this season. Bedard will make his first ever NHL visit to Vancouver a month from now on January 22nd.

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