The Vancouver Canucks are on the home stretch of their 7 game eastern swing with a rematch vs the New Jersey Devils. Roberto Luongo vs Cory Schneider backstory aside, this is an important game in that a Canucks win secures a successful road trip. Travel won’t be an issue as the Canucks played in Long Island the game before.
The Canucks pulled out a gritty 5-4 OT win vs the New York Islanders. It was a game that will be remembered for a few reasons; David Booth was a healthy scratch, Jannik Hansen suffered what looked to be a shoulder injury that may keep him out of the lineup for an extended period of time, and John Tortorella described the game as a “cluster _____” (presumably those listening were to finish off the saying for themselves).
The New Jersey Devils are a team that is still trying to find itself. Cory Schneider has quickly supplanted Martin Brodeur as the #1 goaltender, but the Devils have struggled out of the gates this season. The Devils are coming off of a dismal 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Based on what is being put out there, the lines are likely to look like this. Hansen’s injury likely means David Booth will get back into the lineup.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Kassian
Welsh – Richardson – Booth
Sestito – Weise – Weber
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
The pretend Larscheid report…
1. No Excuses
We know it has been a long road trip for the Canucks and we know this is a built in excuse for a potential lacklustre effort. The Canucks need to continue to be aggressive. They need to forget about reasons why they might not pull out a win and focus on the parts of their game that they are seeing success.
2. Score on the Freakin’ Powerplay
The Canucks power play has been an absolute cluster fuck! Yeah, I said it! They seem to be able to get a lot of puck possession, but just cannot seem to get any production with the man advantage. The Canucks need to keep it simple!
3. Step up!
The Canucks need continued production from players in their bottom six. Zack Kassian seems to be improving with each game and Brad Richardson has been very good the whole season. Jeremy Welsh has shown well in his two games with the Canucks as well. In what I expect to be a tight game, any production from the bottom six will go a long way towards the Canucks banking another 2 points vs the Devils.
I predicted a wide open Canucks-Islanders game, but this one will be the opposite. I have a feeling the game will be even more ugly than the previous one and the Canucks will pull out a hideous 3-1 win.
Follow Ian Lusher on Twitter at @IanLusher