After a lengthy Christmas break, the Canucks are back in action to face the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome. How will the Canucks fare against their former Northwest Division rivals? And will the Canucks be as rusty as this game preview? Hopefully not.
The game against the Winnipeg Jets was a while ago and I was hard into the Christmas liquor at that point, but I believe the Canucks were dead tired yet managed to pull off a win. For a team playing their forth game in six nights (three of those being on the road), that’s pretty good. The big event of the game occurred late in the first period when Roberto Luongo pulled himself from the game with an apparent lower-body injury. Most people were convinced this was a clever ploy to get Eddie Lack into the game with his dad and grandma in the stands watching him. I was on that train myself but with Luongo apparently out 7-10 days, that probably wasn’t the case. Anyways, Lack was stellar and the Canucks’ third line had another decent outing in beating the Jets 2-1. Local boy Evander Kane scored the lone goal for Winnipeg in the loss.
The Calgary Flames are, as expected, not a good hockey team this year. Although they began the year at a torrid pace, they have since slipped back to where they should be in the Western Conference standings (second to last, right ahead on Edmonton). Former Detroit Redwing Jiri Hudler is currently driving the offence for the Flames at 33 points on the year with Mike Cammalleri, Matt Stajan and rookie Sean Monahan rounding out a thin forward group. On defence, the Flames are led by Captain Mark Giordano with the goaltending duties split between Reto Barra and Kari Ramo. So if you were wondering why the Flames are in 26th in the NHL, that’s why.
It has been a week since their last game and the Canucks were victorious so don’t expect any changes to the line up, except Joacim Eriksson, who will be sitting on an NHL bench for the first time. I added his name under Lack’s because you know you’ve made it to the show when your name is on a Rob the Hockey Guy game preview.
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Hansen
Higgins – Kesler – Santorelli
Booth – Richardson – Kassian
Sestito – Dalpe – Weise
Hamhuis – Tanev
Alberts – Bieksa
Weber – Garrison
1. Christmas Vacation
I really can’t recall a time when the Canucks had a longer break over the Christmas holidays. And no, the lockout years don’t count. It will be interesting to see how they respond to a Flames team that generally plays a very uptempo game. If I had to guess, I would think John Tortorella is warming up his vocal chords in anticipation of this game.
2. The Lack Show
With Roberto Luongo out for a few games, the net belongs to Eddie Lack who has been sensational so far this season. Lack has posted a 6-2 record with a 1.93 GAA and .928 Save Percentage. The most important thing about Eddie Lack’s season is that he has managed to gain the confidence of John Tortorella. These next few games will go a long way in determining Lack’s progression as an NHL goaltender as he hasn’t started in a large amount of games since playing in the American Hockey League with the Chicago Wolves two years ago.
Because the Canucks have been playing so well of late, it’s easy to forget that the team is still without two of their most important players. Alex Burrows and Alex Edler remain sidelined with injuries and no updates have been provided. Thanks to a long break and a spread of schedule over the next couple of weeks, hopefully the healing process is getting close to completion as the Canucks will need those two ready to play for the stretch drive.
I’ll give the Flames a lot of credit for playing hard every night and providing some entertainment for a down trodden fan base. Believe me, I live in Calgary and hear about it way too often. However, that doesn’t mean they are a good hockey team. Canucks take it 3-2 with Lack stealing the show.