Game #3 on the epic Eastern road trip for the Vancouver Canucks brings them to Pittsburgh for a morning tilt with the Penguins. The Penguins have been flying out of the gates with a 6-1 record to start the season. The Penguins are not the Buffalo Sabres so expect the Penguins to actually touch the puck every once in awhile.
The Canucks shutout Cody Hodgson’s Buffalo Sabres 3-0 for their second straight win on the road. The Canucks took care of business against a team that may possibly be one of the worst versions of an NHL team in recent history. If Canuck fans hadn’t figured it out yet, Hodgson is a 3rd line centre with the potential to be a 2nd line centre pretending to be a 1st line centre on a horrible team. Roberto Luongo recorded his first shutout of the season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are on a roll to start the season and will present a real challenge for the Canucks on Saturday morning at 10am PST. Sidney Crosby is leading the league in scoring with 14 points (6 goals and 8 assists) in the Penguins first 7 games. The Canucks are catching a break in that Kris Letang and James Neal will not be in the lineup due to injury.
Who really knows what the Canucks lines will look like at the start of the game? All I know is that the lines won’t look the same at the end of the game as they do at the start and Zac Dalpe won’t be in the lineup (Dalpe was reportedly saying his goodbyes to teammates after the game against the Sabres and should be sent down to Utica). Alex Edler is back from his non-sensical 3 game suspension. Based on practice the lines are likely to look like this:
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Hansen
Kassian – Schroeder – Booth
Sestito – Richardson - Weise
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
The pretend Larscheid report…
1. Set the Alarm!
I’m not a big fan of the early morning EST starts, but I’m not playing. Hopefully the spectre of playing an elite team like the Penguins is enough to make the Canucks forget that their usual game routine is flushed down the drain for this one. Oh yeah! This happened the last time we were in this situation…
2. The Return of Edler
Edler is back and the Canucks need him to step up big time! Edler has had a very good start to the season and a game against the Penguins may serve as a litmus test for where he is really at.
3. Dictate the Play
As Larscheid used to say, we need some “hack, wack, and smack.” John Tortorella’s aggressive forecheck was evident against the Buffalo Sabres. The Canucks need to be aggressive against the Penguins from puck drop and sustain it for 60 minutes.
The RobTheHockeyGuy team is 6-2 in predictions and we are lamenting the fact that we did not back-up our predictions by purchasing Sports Action tickets. My heart is telling me that the Canucks could take this game, but my mind has me thinking otherwise. I do think this will be a close one and I believe the Canucks could very easily salvage a point out of this game. 4-3 Penguins.
Follow Ian Lusher on Twitter at @IanLusher