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Canucks game day: Looking to right the ship in Anaheim with Casey DeSmith to start in goal

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Photo credit:© Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
4 months ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (38-17-7) open a three-game road trip tonight when they face the Anaheim Ducks (22-35-3) at Honda Centre. 
On Saturday, Rick Tocchet revealed that Tyler Myers (lower body) will be out week to week. That means Mark Friedman will slide into tonight’s lineup. He’s been a healthy scratch for eight straight and 36 of the last 38 games. He’s likely to be paired with veteran Ian Cole.
The team had a number of new line combinations at Saturday’s practice. The new look top six has Pius Suter skating with Elias Pettersson and Nils Höglander, while Ilya Mikheyev finds himself on a line with JT Miller and Brock Boeser. 
The club recalled Vasily Podkolzin and Matt Irwin from AHL Abbotsford yesterday. Rick Tocchet confirmed late this afternoon that Podkolzin will make his NHL season debut on a line with Elias Lindholm and Conor Garland.
The Canucks have dropped back to back games and have just one win in their last seven outings (1-5-1). Additionally, the team has lost its last three road games. 
On Thursday, the Canucks fell 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. Brock Boeser had the team’s lone goal. He has now scored four times in the last three games and has a power play goal in each of the last three contests. JT Miller had an assist on Boeser’s goal against the Kings. He has now had a hand in eight of the last 10 goals the Canucks have scored.
While Miller and Boeser continue to produce, there are several others that are struggling to score. Elias Pettersson has matched his season-high and gone five without a goal and has one in his last 10 games. Elias Lindholm has gone seven games without scoring. Conor Garland’s goal drought is up to eight games. Pius Suter has gone 14 games. Quinn Hughes has gone 15 games. Teddy Blueger hasn’t scored in 26 games, Phil Di Giuseppe has gone 27 games and Ilya Mikheyev has gone 30 games without putting a puck in the net.
Casey DeSmith will get the start in goal. He hasn’t played since giving up eight goals in a 10-7 loss in Minnesota on February 19th. DeSmith has posted one victory in six starts since Christmas and has not won a game since a 5-2 victory at New York Islanders on January 9th.
The Ducks are coming off a 4-3 win over New Jersey on Friday. They were outshot 55-23, but Lukas Dostal stood tall in goal making 52 saves – a Ducks franchise record in a victory. His final save was on a Jack Hughes penalty shot with just 2.1 seconds remaining. Frank Vatrano scored twice while Adam Henrique and Max Jones had Anaheim’s other goals.
The Ducks have won back to back games for the first time since the All Star break after defeating San Jose 6-4 on Thursday.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, a number of Ducks players find themselves in the middle of trade rumours. Vatrano leads the team in goals (29) and points (51), but could very well have a new hockey home by Friday. Meanwhile Henrique has 18+24=42 and is third on the team in scoring but is also rumoured to be on the block. Trevor Zegras and Sam Carrick also find themselves on trade target boards from various NHL insiders.
Hard-nosed defenceman Radko Gudas is second in the NHL – and leads all blueliners – in penalty minutes with 105. He is one of just three players in the league to crest the century mark so far this season. Gudas leads the league with 34 minor penalties. Remarkably, Frank Vatrano and Mason McTavish sit second and third giving the Ducks the top three players in the league in minor penalties taken. So it should come as no surprise, Anaheim is the most penalized team in the league and has been shorthanded more times than any team in the NHL.
Anaheim is tied with San Jose for the fewest home ice wins in the league (9) and the Ducks have amassed the fewest home ice points in the NHL (19).
The Canucks beat the Ducks 3-1 in their first meeting of the season in late November in Vancouver. The teams will meet one more time in a 12:30pm start at Rogers Arena on Sunday March 31st. The Canucks have won five straight head to head match-ups with the Ducks.
Tonight’s referees: Jean Hebert & Chris Rooney.

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