The Vancouver Canucks start their longest road trip of the season when hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday afternoon at 4pm PST. Canucks fans will be amped up to see the Canucks play a collection of Eastern teams that we do not often see. The Flyers, in particular, are always an interesting bunch both on and off the ice.
The Canucks lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. The game was marked by the most ridiculous own goal in Canuck history and stellar, albeit lucky, goaltending by the Canadiens Carey Price. The Canucks carried the play for large stretches, but were unable to take advantage of Price’s consistent over aggressive play. Price was caught out of position multiple times, but the Canucks could not capitalize. The Canadiens, conversely, were able to score without having to shoot the puck.
The Philadelphia Flyers have quite possibly had one of the worst starts to their season imaginable. The Flyers fired their coach, Peter Laviolette, after 3 games and replaced him with Craig Berube. This begs the question as to why Laviolette was coaching the Flyers in the first place, but what do I know? The Flyers have a record of 1-5 and are coming off of a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. The Canucks will be running into a Flyers team newly decimated by injuries. Both Vincent Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell will be out of the lineup for the tilt against the Canucks. Look for Steve Mason to get the start against Vancouver. His record is deceiving given his stellar early season numbers (.935 SV% and 2.03 GAA).
The Canuck lines will likely remain the same if Monday morning’s practice is any indication (update: Schroeder will play for Dalpe). Tortorella has been quick to shuffle his lines early and Torts has had zero confidence in his 4th line (I don’t blame him…disaster!).
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Santorelli
Higgins – Kesler – Hansen
Kassian – Schroeder – Booth
Sestito – Richardson - Weise
Garrison – Bieksa
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton - Weber
The pretend Larscheid report…
1. Score Early
The Canucks need to score early. This is ridiculously obvious I know, but the Canucks need to get the offence going quickly in this game vs the Flyers. The longer this game stays close, the more likely the struggling Flyers will believe they can win it. The last few years the Canucks have had issues letting struggling teams hang around in games because of a lack of scoring. Take it to them early!!
Dan Hamhuis has got to get his game back. Brutal gaff aside, Hamhuis has been uncharacteristically inconsistent and, at times, downright awful throughout the first 6 games of the season. Since coming to the Canucks from Nashville, Hamhuis has been the steadiest of all the D on the Canucks. He needs to get back to the Hamhuis of old and, perhaps, a long road trip will be good for him.
3. “Puck Luck”
Tom Larscheid always called it “puck luck”. The Canucks need a few bounces to go their way. In the Canucks game vs the Canadiens, it was pretty obvious that all the breaks went the Canadiens way. It would be nice to see the Canucks get a few breaks in the offensive zone for once.
I’m 0-1 (the RobTheHockeyGuy team is 4-2 though) in predictions and this game is a tough one. The Canucks have had a recent history of laying eggs in games against struggling teams and I can see this game being a lot closer than people think. That being said, I believe the Canucks played a lot better than the score reflected against the Canadiens and the Flyers don’t have much of a lineup vs the Canucks. Canucks take this 3-2.
Follow Ian Lusher on Twitter at @IanLusher