The Vancouver Canucks travel to Anaheim for their second of back to back games tonight to wrap up their four game road trip. How will the Canucks respond after a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings? Read on to find out.
If there was one game to miss so far this season, I sincerely hope you chose this one. The Canucks marched into the Staples Centre riding high after (finally) defeating the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night. The Kings were not impressed however, and proved it by soundly beating the Canucks 5-1. Dan Hamhuis made it close at one point during the second period, but the Kings responded with three quick goals from Mike Richards, Justin Williams, and Tyler Toffoli that pretty much destroyed any chance of making the game watchable for Vancouver fans. Although CBC announcer Mark Lee tried his best to make the game unwatchable anyway.
Even though The Anaheim Ducks removed “Mighty” from their name (I still don’t know why the hell they would do that), they have certainly been playing mighty this season. Currently sitting 1st overall in the NHL Standings, the Ducks haven’t lost at home yet (gulp) and are currently riding a four game winning streak. What is most impressive about the Ducks is that they were without Teemu Selanne for a stretch of games, presumably to spend time in his anti-aging chamber (I’m currently looking into the validity of this assumption). The leading scorer of the Ducks is their captain Ryan Getzlaf who, sick of all the bald jokes, has decided to take his frustration and turn it into 2nd place on the NHL scoring list behind Steven Stamkos. On defence, Francois Beauchemin leads an defensive unit that despite not looking fantastic on paper, has been getting the job done for the Ducks. Anaheim also employs the goaltending tandem of Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth. The Ducks have the luxury of playing a world-class goalie whenever they feel like it.
The only major change to the lineup will be Eddie Lack coming in for Roberto Luongo. Before we start Goalie Gate 2.0, remember this is the second of back to backs, and Lack has been scheduled to take this game for a while. Plus, it will give Luongo a chance to reconnect with an old friend.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Kesler
Higgins – Santorelli – Burrows
Archibald – Richardson – Kassian
Sestito – Welsh – Dalpe
Garrison – Edler
Hamhuis – Tanev
Stanton – Bieksa
1. Rebound Game?
Much like Jon Favreau in Swingers, The Canucks will be looking for a solid rebound after a brutal defeat in Los Angeles. By the third period, John Tortorella was barely using the Henrik and Daniel Sedin so he could keep them fresh for tonight’s game in Anaheim where the outcome hadn’t yet been determined. Hopefully this means that the twins will have some left over energy for the game tonight. I stand by the fact that Tortorella will not let his guys forget about this loss, so expect Vancouver to come out much stronger in Anaheim.
2. End of the Road
When the Canucks stopped off in St. Louis to end their seven game road trip back in October. Everyone, including yours truly, predicted the Canucks to get their butts handed to them. We were wrong, and the Canucks made a statement against one of the better teams in the league. Can it happen again?
3. Can Lack stop the high flying Ducks?
This is will be a very good test for Eddie Lack. John Tortorella has repeatedly stressed the need for the team to be able to trust Lack, and what better opportunity to do so tonight against the NHL’s current leader. Although not without his flaws, Lack has been good in his limited playing time, going 2-1 with a save percentage of 9.12 and a goals against average of 2.52. Not too bad for a back up goalie in his first NHL season. Hopefully the Ducks don’t destroy him.
The Canucks will end their road trip with a shootout loss in Anaheim and a respectable 1-1-2 record against the best of the Pacific Division. Bonus Prediction: Canuck fans will hate Corey Perry just a little more than they already do.
Follow Steve Lancashire on Twitter at @lankey22