Rob The Hockey Guy

// A Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog

Canucks vs Avalanche Game Preview – December 8, 2013

Image courtesy of Canucks.com

Image courtesy of Canucks.com

Despite blowing another lead in the third period, the Canucks managed to knock off the Coyotes to run their win streak to three games. Can they keep it going against the Avalanche? And will a Patrick Roy vs John Tortorella rivalry develop? Read on to find out.

Last Game:

The end result looked promising for Vancouver as they led the Coyotes 2-0 after two periods courtesy of goals from Jason Garrison and Henrik Sedin . Although both teams tried their best to bore the crap out of us, The Canucks managed to make things frustrating exciting by letting Phoenix back into the game in the third period to force overtime. Looking desperately for a chance to shine, Chris Higgins ignored the 3-1 rush advantage and took the solo shot to beat Mike Smith, which turned out to be a pretty good decision on his part. It was a fitting end to the game as the Canucks probably deserved this game a little more than the Coyotes did. However, they did give up a crucial point to a team directly ahead of them in the standings. It’s only December, but that still hurts.

The Opponent:

The Canucks vs Avalanche ain’t what it used to be. In my years of watching hockey, there seems to be a trend of one team completely dominating the other for long periods of time. However, the Avalanche that are sliding (see what I did there? I’ll show myself out…) into Rogers Arena seem to be a different team this year. While not much has changed with their on ice personnel, other than Cole Harbour’s own Nathan McKinnon, new coach Patrick Roy has had an immediate impact and has Colorado currently in the playoffs with a 20-7-0 record. Although he has slowed down a bit from his earlier pace, Matt Duchene seems to have returned to form and has at least put himself back into consideration for Team Canada. Young captain Gabriel Landeskog and PA Parenteau round out the bulk of the offence for Colorado. Defence is where the Avs suffer a bit, and according to TSN’s Pierre Lebrun, are looking to rectify that.

Canucks Lines:

According to the lines at practice, there won’t be much change from the last game.

D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Booth

Higgins – Kesler – Santorelli

Hansen – Richardson – Weise

Sestito – Dalpe – Kassian

Hamhuis – Tanev

Stanton – Bieksa

Alberts – Garrison

Luongo

Storylines:

1. Hold a Freaking Lead!

It’s okay guys, Alain Vigneault isn’t coaching this team anymore. You don’t have to sit on leads in the third period which is basically what Chris Higgins admitted after the game. What’s even more disturbing about this trend is that it seems to happen more at home where you can control the match ups. John Tortorella has been preaching patience and that it’s something the team is working on. Hopefully it gets figured out sooner or later because the Canucks can’t keep gift wrapping points to their Western Conference rivals.

2. Dale Weise and Mike Santorelli

Maybe this will be the kiss of death for both guys, but I have to give huge props to both these players. Santorelli came into this season on a 2-way contract (aka Utica bound) but has managed to become a vital part of this team. In light of the Burrows and Edler injuries, I thought to myself, man, we would really be hurting if Santorelli went down. I did not anticipate thinking that in September.

As for Weise, he is looking like a third liner.Maybe it’s not the ideal situation for the Canucks to be in because in a perfect world, Chris Higgins would probably be with Jannik Hansen on the third line. However, this isn’t a perfect world and the Canucks line up is thin. John Tortorella has given Weise an opportunity, and it looks like Dale will run with it. It never hurts to have a third line winger who can skate and hit.

3. Nathan MacKinnon

Tonight marks Nathan MacKinnon’s first foray into Rogers Arena to face the Canucks. Even though the rivalry between the two clubs will probably suffer as a result of the new divisional alignment, it’s always fun to welcome the NHL’s number one draft pick (that doesn’t belong to Edmonton) to town. MacKinnon has a had a decent start to the season with 6 goals and 11 assists and has been reliable defensively with a +5 rating (if you’re into that kind of stat…). MacKinnon hails from Cole Harbour, which has also produced some guy named Sidney Crosby. Seriously, what is with that town? It has a population of roughly 25,000 people which is about the size of the Cowichan Valley where I hail from. How many superstar NHLers have we produced? There was Greg Adams (but which one?).Doug Bodger was pretty good but Matt Ellison was the guy that was traded for Patrick Sharp. Cole Harbour is the city that makes every other city look bad. At least when it comes to popping out NHL all-stars. Jerks.

Prediction:

It’s a Sunday game and they are playing at home which never seems to work out too well for the Canucks. While my heart says win, my head says loss. Therefore, my fingers type a 4-3 loss. I will, however, guess that it goes to overtime so Vancouver at least gets a point out of this. I just took the easy way out.

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