Rob The Hockey Guy

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Canucks vs Blues Game Preview – January 10, 2014

canucks_blues

Image Courtesy: Canucks.com

Things don’t get any easier for the Canucks as they continue their stroll down Murderers’ Row with a Friday night date with the big bad Blues. 

Last Game:

Tuesday was a roller coaster of a game against Sidney Crosby and the Pens. After a bit of a sleepy start to the game by the home team, they found themselves down 2-0 and needed some excellent play from Eddie Lack to keep the game close. The Canucks stormed back, took a 4-2 lead and appeared to have the game in the bag. Of course it wasn’t to be as the Canucks blew yet another late lead and lost another game in the shootout.

The St Louis Blues:

The Blues are a mean piece of business and can hurt you in more ways than one. They’re big, tough and deep in every position. They played in Calgary on Thursday night, winning 5-0. Jaroslav Halak had a relatively easy night, facing only 21 shots for the victory. They have now won 7 games in a row and are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. That’s good enough for top spot in the Central Division.

Canucks Lines:

It was an eventful practice for the Canucks on Thursday. Alex Burrows and Alex Edler both practiced with their teammates for the first time since their injuries and appear to be close to returning to the lineup. It remains to be seen if David Booth or Dale Weise (both healthy scratches on Tuesday) will be playing. Benn Ferreiro was sent back down to Utica, so at least one of them should dress. It’s unlikely that Henrik Sedin will be taking faceoffs again due to what appears to be an injured finger, which is a big reason why Mike Santorelli finds himself on the top line. Here’s how the lines looked at practice:

D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Santorelli

Higgins – Kesler – Kassian

Sestito – Richardson – Hansen

Archibald – Dalpe – Weise

Hamhuis – Tanev

Garrison- Bieksa

Weber – Corrado

Lack 

Storylines:

1. Mindset

John Tortorella believes that playing tough against the big teams of the west is a “mindset”. While that’s obviously oversimplifying it, I think he is on to something. The Canucks now have only 4 wins in 15 games (4-6-5) against the teams I consider to be the front runners to win the Stanley Cup (not necessarily “big” teams: Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, St Louis, Boston and Pittsburgh). They can compete against the big dogs, but they haven’t been winning very often against them. The Canucks need to attack the Blues and need to stay aggressive on the forecheck. They have gotten away from that a little bit during this losing streak. You don’t always have to be big, to play big.

2. Let Frankie Play!

Frank Corrado is ready for prime time, it’s time Torts let him prove it. Corrado played more against the Penguins than he did in his previous 4 games this season, a whopping 12 minutes. Prior to that he received between 5-9 minutes of ice time. Meanwhile, the Canucks top 4 defencemen are being taxed, making them less effective. It’s one thing to play 25+ minutes a game against one of the NHL’s weak sisters, it’s quite another to do it against one of the top teams. If Torts can give Corrado 18 minutes of ice time, it’ll make Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev better.

3. New Shooters in the Shootout

The Canucks practiced the shootout at practice on Thursday and reports were that Zac Dalpe, Jason Garrison and Frank Corrado were pretty good at it. Jason Garrison went 4-for-5 to win the skills competition and I would bet that he’ll be one of the Canucks shooters the next time around.

Prediction:

The last time the Canucks played St Louis, nobody gave them much of a chance to win. They were wrapping up a 7 game road trip, played in New Jersey the night before and looked exhausted. They threw Eddie Lack to the wolves and what do you know, they came out with a win. It looks almost as bleak this time around as the Blues are the hottest team in the league while the Canucks have lost 5 in a row. I’m betting the Canucks are due, they’ll win in a shootout (!) with Jason Garrison scoring the winner. You heard it here first folks!

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