Having already guaranteed themselves a winning record on their longest road trip of the season, the Canucks are looking to wrap things up in style as they limp into St. Louis to face the Blues. How will the Canucks fare against a well rested Blues squad? Read on to find out.
You can usually judge how interesting a Canucks game is by the banter between John Shorthouse and John Garret. In this game, we learned (in great detail) that Cheech hates it when the peanut butter is chunky on his PB&J sandwiches. The point is that Thursday’s game against the Devils was not one we will be telling our grandchildren about. If you made it through without falling asleep, you witnessed a tired Canucks team lose two more players (David Booth and Dale Weise) to injury but squeak out a 3-2 shootout against Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. You also learned that the Canucks’ player of the game gets to wear a headband and superman shirt. That’s about it.
The St. Louis Blues have had an excellent start to the season with a record of 5-1-1. They also haven’t played since October 18 and are no doubt very well rested. The Blues are led by Alex Steen (or as I like to call him when he plays against Vancouver: Wayne Gretzky) who has transitioned well into a first line centre as he currently sits eighth in league scoring with 11 points. The Blues have a ridiculous amount of forward depth and are likely having a good laugh watching Vancouver lose body after body to injury and healthy scratches. Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Kevin Shattenkirk lead an excellent defensive unit, while any one of the three goalies (Brian Elliott, Jaroslav Halak, and Jake Allen) can steal a game. Basically, the Blues are stacked, tough and well rested. So this should be fun.
Darren Archibald and Pelletier have been called up from Utica and will likely be inserted into the lineup.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Richardson
Sestito – Welsh – Kassian
Archibald – Pelletier – Weber
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
Against the Devils, the Canucks looked bagged. So with a flight tonight and a game tomorrow, I’m not holding out much hope of seeing an energized and dynamic squad. If the Canucks could spread out the minutes the optics might look a bit better, but they have now lost David Booth and Dale Weise (joining Jannik Hansen and Jordan Schroeder)to injuries. Darren Archibald and Pascal Pelletier have been recalled from the Utica Comets but I expect them to only see limited minutes alongside Andrew Alberts. Tomorrow morning will be interesting to see how they build their roster for the game against St. Louis.
There has been a lot of talk lately about how the Canucks can’t seem to draw any penalties. Whether you are an NHL conspiracy theorist or believe the Canucks have made their own bed (re: diving), you can’t deny that there has been an undeniable lack of power play opportunities for Vancouver. Against New Jersey, Vancouver only drew two penalties (the second coming with 12 seconds left in overtime) despite numerous hooks, trips, and interference from the Devils. Then again, they missed a lot of calls against the Canucks as well so maybe it’s just poor officiating all around. Will this trend continue against St Louis? Most likely.
3. Darren Archibald
I’m very interested in how Archibald performs tomorrow night. Archibald was a free-agent signing out of the Ontario Hockey League and despite some ups and downs early in his professional career (a couple trips to Kalamazoo of the ECHL), I see a lot of potential in Archibald to be an effective fourth line winger (remember fourth lines? We haven’t seem one in a while.). Archibald has even showed some offensive prowess, scoring 12 goals in 55 games for the Chicago Wolves last year.
I’m going to be pessimistic about this one because there are simply too many factors working against the Canucks in this game. They are tired, undermanned, and playing against a well-rested and physically aggressive team that plays a frustrating defensive game. I can see Vancouver coming out strong, but then wilting in the second period and ending the road trip with a 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues.