The Vancouver Canucks continue their trip through hockey hell (California) on Sunday night with a game against the Anaheim Ducks. Can the Canucks respond to a tough loss against the LA Kings less than 24 hours later? Quite frankly I’m a little scared to find out.
Despite Mark Lee and Kelly Hrudy constantly slurping the Los Angeles Kings (seriously it was ridiculous how excited Mark Lee was every time the Kings had a scoring chance), there was actually an entertaining hockey game going on in the background. The Canucks got on the board early with a power play marker from Ryan Kesler which made Mark Lee very sad. Despite dominating the Canucks in every statistical category, the Kings trailed until early in the third period when Dustin Brown was finally able to beat Roberto Luongo. Jeff Carter soon followed up with a goal of his own which Mark Lee thought was awesome. The Kings added an empty net goal but it was called off and Mark Lee was outraged! But all’s well that ends well as the Kings would add another one and hang on for the 3-1 win. High Five Mark Lee and Glenn Healy! Keep making Hockey Night in Canada terrible.
The Anaheim Ducks:
Mighty Ducks are currently on a tear and sitting in second place in the Western Conference (one point behind the Chicago Blackhawks). A rejuvenated Ryan Getzlaf has been pacing the offence with fellow countryman Corey Perry providing ample support and both are looking like locks to play for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. Despite a defence that looks suspect on paper, the Ducks do not seem to have many issues but that may be a result of the stellar goaltending they have been receiving from Victor Fasth and Jonas Hillar. At the beginning of the year, I was contemplating writing a quick preview of the West and I considered the Ducks as an 8th place team at best, believing their record last year was the result of a condensed schedule. Well, thankfully I got distracted by something and my stupid opinion was never written down because I would have looked like an idiot. While not the 2007 team that murdered their way to a Stanley Cup, the Ducks are a legitimate contender in the West.
- I’m just making an assumption, but after facing over 40 shots in his first game since coming back from injury, I’m betting Luongo will rest and Eddie Lack will get the start against the Ducks. Don’t expect any line up changes as there isn’t anyone else.
- *Update: Chris Higgins is injured and won’t play. Benn Ferriero will take his place in the lineup. Here is my best guess on how Torts will juggle his lines:
D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Hansen
Booth - Kesler – Santorelli
Weise - Richardson – Kassian
Sestito – Dalpe – Ferriero
Hamhuis – Tanev
Weber – Corrado
1. The Brutal Schedule
This is really a make it or break it stretch of games for Vancouver. With games against the Ducks, Penguins, Blues, Kings, Ducks again and the Coyotes, a losing streak probably wouldn’t boot them out of the playoffs, but it will go a long way in determining their viability as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. They don’t need to sweep this series of games, but they need to be competitive. A win against the Ducks would be a fantastic start and a major confidence booster.
2. Contain Getzlaf and Perry
It is pretty much guaranteed at this point that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will be named to Team Canada because if you haven’t noticed, they have been fantastic this year. Getzlaf sits third in NHL scoring with 47 points and Perry isn’t far behind with 43. If the Canucks are to have a chance in this game, the defence will have to play a major role. Because of the challenge of shutting these guys down, I don’t anticipate a high scoring game from Vancouver.
I’m going to be really interested to see how much juice the Canucks have left over after playing the Kings the night before. LA plays a tough brand of hockey and Vancouver was able to acquit themselves well. However, playing that style takes a lot out of a team. That being said, the Canucks have responded to this challenge before as you will read in my prediction.
Okay here’s my logic on this one. Every time the Canucks are up against a power house on the second game of back to backs, I, rightfully so, predict a loss. This was the case earlier in the year against St. Louis and Chicago. Logic would dictate that the Canucks will respond to the massive challenge that awaits them and come out of Orange County with a win. However, I really do think they will lose this one. No real justification. I just think they will lose.
Or am I just saying they will lose because the last two times I said that the Canucks ended up winning? Nah, I think they will lose. Ducks are good.