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Canucks ride hot goaltending into first game of 2017 against Colorado

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Ian Lusher Jan 02, 2017 3:54 am 478

The Canucks finished off 2016 with a bang!

It was a year to forget for a rebuild-on-the-fly team, but Vancouver did manage to win three-straight to close out year. Onward and upward!

The first game of 2017 pits two of the worst teams in the NHL who also happen to excel in the face off circle. The Avalanche currently rank second in the NHL in faceoff win percentage while the Canucks sit sixth. Forget about goals, forget about shots. The real question to be answered tonight is; who is going to win the battle in the faceoff dot?

Matchup

Vancouver Canucks (17-18-3, 37 points) vs Colorado Avalanche (12-23-1, 25 points)

Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

Time: 7 pm PT

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

By the numbers

Canucks Avalanche
Goals for 2.37 (24th) 2.06 (30th)
Goals against 2.97 (23rd) 3.36 (30th)
Power play % 13.8 (28th) 13.1 (29th)
Penalty kill % 80.4 (21st) 79.0 (25th)
Shots for 27.9 (29th) 38.3 (27th)
Shots against 30.8 (10th) 32.4 (6th)
Faceoff % 52.0 (6th) 53.5 (2nd)

 

Lineup

Alex Burrows has a scratch in his eye and won’t play, opening the door for Anton Rodin to be inserted into the Canucks lineup.

Ryan Miller gets the start.

D. Sedin H. Sedin Megna
Granlund Sutter Eriksson
Baertschi Horvat Rodin
Gaunce Chaput Skille
Edler Stecher
Sbisa Tanev
Hutton Tryamkin
Miller

What you need to know

1. Canucks goalies pulling their weight

While the Canucks have had trouble winning games this season, they cannot blame their lack of wins on goaltending.

Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom have a save percentage of .909 and .913 respectively, but the stats don’t tell the true tale on how well they are playing for Vancouver on a nightly basis.

Without Alex Edler and Chris Tanev for large stretches of time this season has not been easy on either goaltender. Now, with both top defencemen back in the lineup, we’re seeing what Miller and Markstrom can do.

Markstrom was sensational on Saturday, stopping 42 of 44 shots. Miller won both of the previous two games, stopping a combined 60 of 63 shots against the Ducks and Kings.

Expect the Canucks to rely heavily on their goaltender to outplay that of the Avalanche in order to get the win tonight.

2. Canucks D looking at its strongest due to injuries

There is a valid argument out there that the Canucks are playing their strongest lineup on the blueline these days. The problem is that the current mix is only being iced because of injuries to Philip Larsen and Erik Gudbranson.

In short, injuries have played a large part in helping the head coach play his best six defencemen which is equal parts sad and fortunate.

One can only hope that Jim Benning and Trevor Linden are noticing. Management has publicly stated that any possible trade for a scoring forward would involve Vancouver dealing away a defenceman.

Simply put, the improving Nikita Tryamkin is providing everything Gudbranson is supposed to. The writing is on the wall; the Canucks need to deal Gudbranson at the deadline.

For now, enjoy a Canucks defence that showcases a very good mix of veteran leadership and promising young defencemen.

3. What is the deal with the Avs

Can you imagine a franchise legend in charge of a team that is not performing?

Yeah, sounds familiar.

The Avalanche are all sorts of terrible with a lot of talented players. An Avs team with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, and Tyson Barrie currently sits last in the NHL with only 25 points in 36 games.

Colorado has been particularly bad of late, having lost eight of their last nine games.

The funny thing about Colorado is that they lose regularly, but are an enjoyable team to watch. The Canucks-Avalanche matchup may not be sexy, but it will be an entertaining game to watch. What more can you ask for?

Prediction

The Canucks have won three in a row on the back of stellar goaltending while Colorado will be desperate for a win.

The dream of winning four-straight ends at the hands of the Avalanche tonight. Colorado takes this one 4-2.


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Ian Lusher
Lifelong Canucks fan, lover of all things Seinfeld, and avid Yankees fan.

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