Scenes from morning skate: Canucks stick with winning lineup as they open 9-game homestand against Winnipeg

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Paterson
1 month ago
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The Vancouver Canucks (41-17-7) open a season-high nine-game homestand tonight when they play host to the Winnipeg Jets (40-17-5). The Canucks are home for the remainder of March and will not play a road game again until April 2nd in Las Vegas. 
The Canucks are shooting for a fourth straight victory after a clean sweep on a road trip through Anaheim, Los Angeles and Vegas. They beat the Golden Knights 3-1 on Thursday in one of the club’s most complete performances since the All Star break.
While the Canucks have four more points than the Jets in the standings, the teams are tied for top spot in the Western Conference by points percentage (.685).

What we saw

With no moves made ahead of yesterday’s NHL trade deadline, the Canucks will ice the same lineup they used in wins over LA and Vegas. That means Thatcher Demko starts for the third straight game – and 49th time this season – while Rick Tocchet will use the same 18 skaters he has for the past three contests. 
Quinn Hughes, Phil Di Giuseppe, and Conor Garland had the Canuck goals against the Golden Knights. Garland has scored in two of the last three games. Elias Pettersson picked up an assist on the Hughes goal which was the 400th point of his NHL career in his 390th regular season game.
Defence was key to the club’s road trip success. The Canucks held each of their three opponents to a single goal. It’s the first time the team has done that since a four-game run during the All Canadian Division in 2021. Discipline was a factor, too, with the Canucks taking just one penalty in each of the victories.
The Canucks are 4-1-1 in their last six games following a four-game losing streak. In addition to nine straight games on home ice starting tonight, the Canucks will play 11 of their next 14 at Rogers Arena and 12 of their final 17 in front of their home fans.
Winnipeg arrives in town after a 3-0 win in Seattle last night. Mark Scheifele, Adam Lowry and Nikolaj Ehlers scored third period goals to lead the Jets to their 10th win in 13 games. Laurent Broissoit made 17 saves for his first shutout of the season. With back to back games, Connor Hellebuyck is expected to get the start tonight as the Jets look to run their record to 7-0 in the second game of back to backs.
On Friday, the Jets acquired former Canuck Tyler Toffoli from New Jersey. He will not play tonight and is expected to make his Winnipeg debut on Monday at home against Washington. The Jets also added depth defenceman Colin Miller from the Devils. On February 2nd, Winnipeg picked up Sean Monahan from Montreal. He has 8+2=10 in 14 games since the trade.
Kyle Connor leads Winnipeg with 26 goals on the season while Scheifele is the team leader with 56 points. Josh Morrissey is second on the team in points this season and leads all NHL defencemen in scoring since the All Star break with 1+17=18 in his last 15 games. 
With their win last night, the Jets kept pace with Dallas and Colorado who both won as well. Winnipeg is tied with the Avs with 85 points and they’re both two back of the Central leading Stars. The Jets have three games in hand on both of their competitors. Winnipeg has surrendered the fewest goals in the NHL this season (147) and sits second only to Florida in goals against per game at 2.37.
The Jets have won 26 of the 30 games in which they have opened the scoring (26-3-1).
Despite overall team success, the Jets special teams are below average with the power play sitting 24th in the NHL while the penalty kill is 23rd. The addition of Toffoli should help the power play. 
The Jets defeated the Canucks 4-2 in their only meeting of the season so far on February 17th at Rogers Arena. The game was tied 2-2 entering the third period and the Jets scored a pair of goals two minutes apart midway through the final frame to pull out the victory. Gabe Vilardi scored a pair of goals in that game while Mark Scheifele had a four point night. The Jets are 10-1-1 in their last 12 visits to Vancouver.
The clubs will meet one more time this season in Game 82 for both teams in Winnipeg on April 19th.
Tonight’s referees: TJ Luxmore & Furman South

What we heard

Rick Tocchet on benefits of a nine-game homestand: “Guys are excited about it. We’ve been on the road a lot in the last six weeks. I think it’s important we use this month for rest but also to work on our game. We have to use our science guy and all of the resources in our coaching room because this is a month that can help us.”
Tocchet on not adding to the roster at the deadline: “You know Jim and Patrik’s resumes and they tried hard yesterday. But we’re happy with our team and my job is to get this team to play better than it’s playing now.”
Tocchet on team taking just one penalty in each of its last three games: “When you can stay out of the box, I can get that fourth line out there and not have guys sit there for six minutes. It’s huge. Guys can get in the flow and I think that’s the reason why these three games, I thought everybody contributed. And I think that’s really important.”
Vasily Podkolzin on hearing his name in trade rumours over the past week: “It’s never easy. Especially the last week, you’re thinking about it and what’s going to happen. But it’s part of the job, part of the business. You never know and you have to be ready for everything. But it’s good to stay here for the rest of the season. So, yeah, it’s good.”
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