After coming ever so close to extending their win streak to 3 games, the Canucks are right back at it tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio for a tilt against the Blue Jackets. How will Vancouver perform after a quick turnaround from a hard fought battle in Steel City? Read on to find out.
You can make the argument that the Canucks played their best game of the season in Pittsburgh on Saturday. Against a team loaded with offensive talent, it was the Canucks who dominated the shot clock 39-29. And that’s with a power play disadvantage of 4-1. However, as good as the Canucks looked on Saturday, Pittsburgh had too many opportunities and were able to capitalize on their chances to edge Vancouver 4-3 in a shootout. Some guy named Sidney Crosby was particularly noticeable for the Penguins, collecting 1 goal and 2 assists.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were somewhat of an overrated miracle team last season. Despite having a line up that looks terrible on paper, the Blue Jackets came very close to securing their second playoff appearance in franchise history, mostly due to the Vezina caliber goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky. This led many pundits to believe the Blue Jackets were going to be a force this year, especially with a move to the Eastern Conference and the additions of Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton. Well, Horton hasn’t played a game yet this season, the team is 2-4, and the Blue Jackets have lost 3 in a row heading into Saturday’s action.
With back-to-back games, it is hard to know exactly what the Canucks will do with their lines. However, the team played well enough that the lines should stay intact for the most part. Jordan Schroeder is out after leaving during the second period and not returning. In response, the Canucks have called up Jeremy Welsh from the Utica Comets. Look for Welsh to slot in between Sestito and Weise to form the least thrilling fourth line in the NHL. Because of it is the second part of a back-to-back, Eddie Lack should get his second start of the season.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Hansen
Kassian – Richardson – Booth
Sestito – Welsh – Weise
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
1. Beastmodo gets another chance
According to John Tortorella, Kesler and the Sedins will have another chance to get some chemistry going. While they certainly played well together, the line didn’t create a lot in the way of scoring chances for the Canucks. I like the move to keep the trio together, even though it will probably be split up pretty quickly again, especially with the loss of Jordan Schroeder.
2. How will the Canucks cope with the loss of Schroeder?
While losing Jordan Schroeder may not seem like a huge deal for Vancouver, it does create a problem down the middle, especially with Kesler getting another chance with the twins. It will also be a shame to see Zack Kassian, who is really starting to pick up his play, paired with Brad Richardson or Jeremy Welsh. Schroeder on the third line wasn’t ideal, but it was much better than anything else the Canucks have put out this season.
3. Will fatigue be a factor?
The Canucks play their first back to back on the road of the season. Today’s game against the Penguins was a hard fought battle that would leave any team weary. Tomorrow we get to see if John Tortorella can get his guys ready and motivated to face a much worse team in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who will also be playing their second game in as many days. Maybe I am too convinced by Torts or just simply too optimistic. But I don’t see fatigue being a huge issue for Vancouver tomorrow as this is only game 8 of 82 on the season. Maybe if this was January I would be more worried.
So far, the boys at Rob the Hockey Guy are money in the bank with our predictions (7-2 on the season). Just check out Ian Lusher’s prediction for the Pittsburgh game. But enough about us.
In one of my previous game previews, I wrote that throughout Alain Vigneault’s tenure, the Canucks were prone to losing games they should have won because they played down to their opponents or simply felt the game wasn’t as important as their last. Under John Tortorella, we are seeing a difference in attitude when it comes to game preparation and tomorrow is when I am banking on the Canucks proving that. While I don’t think the Canucks will play as well as they did against the Penguins, I do believe they will play well enough to squeak out an ugly 3-2 win in Columbus.