JPat: Canucks catch scheduling break on Eastern Canadian road trip
Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
24 days ago
The Vancouver Canucks don’t need many breaks these days, but they’re getting one from the schedule maker on their upcoming three game Eastern Canadian road trip. All three opponents they’ll face are playing the night before.
Ottawa is in Toronto on Wednesday before hosting the Canucks on Thursday. The Maple Leafs play Calgary on Friday before facing the Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. And the Montreal Canadiens entertain Boston on Saturday night before the Canucks come calling on Sunday in what will be back to back games for both teams.
Now, the Canucks have challenges of their own with three games in four nights and dealing with time zones and the fact they won’t be able to dictate match-ups. But it’s a rarity as the visitors in the National Hockey League to encounter three straight home teams that have all played the night before. Not only will the Canucks benefit from facing tired hockey clubs, but all three of those opponents are going to have goaltending decisions to make. And that decision is either to throw a back-up at the hottest and highest scoring team in hockey. Or, in a sign of the growing respect the Canucks are seemingly getting around the league with their 9-2-1 start, teams will save their starter in an attempt to slow down Vancouver’s offensive juggernaut.
Already this season, the Canucks have seen a couple of opponents save their starters for games in Vancouver. St. Louis rolled with Joel Hofer in Calgary in order to have Jordan Binnington rested and ready the following night at Rogers Arena. And the New York Rangers threw Jonathan Quick at the Oilers in Edmonton to keep Igor Shesterkin focussed to face the Canucks.
Alternatively, the Canucks have seen and shelled back-ups — Kevin Lankinen of Nashville and Kaapo Kahkonen in San Jose — on a couple of occasions. They’ve also torn a strip off Edmonton’s tandem of Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell chasing Campbell from the net on opening night.
It doesn’t seem to matter who is in goal against the Canucks right now. The team leads the NHL with 54 goals through its first 12 games and has a power play that is running hot at 32.6% and is even better on the road where it has clicked at a 43.8% rate.
Ottawa will have to decide between Joonas Korpisalo (2-4 with a 3.44 GAA and a .902 save percentage) and Anton Forsberg (2-2 with a 3.42 GAA and a .863 saver percentage) for Wednesday’s Battle of Ontario. Toronto’s choices are Joseph Woll (4-3 with a 2.50 GAA and a .930 save percentage) and Ilya Samsonov (2-1-2 with a 4.11 GAA and a .855 save percentage). Montreal has used three goalies this season Jake Allen (3-2-1 with a 3.35 GAA and .910 save percentage), Sam Montembault (2-2-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .902 save percentage) and Cayden Primeau (0-1 with a 4.15 GAA and .879 save percentage).
The Habs will have to pick their poison in a challenging weekend with the Bruins and Canucks currently sitting second and third in the overall standings.
With the significance of rivalry games and based on their position in the standings, it’s conceivable all three of the Canucks opponents will go with their starters in the first game of the back to backs leaving the Canucks to see secondary netminding.
This Canucks team is scoring goals at an outrageous rate right now. And suddenly it looks like they could get a few assists from the people that put the schedule together on this unique road trip.
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