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Hockey, Sports

Playoff push is on: Canucks host Flames in search of 6th straight win

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Lachlan Macintosh Jan 06, 2017 3:15 am 318

The good times kept rolling Wednesday evening as the Canucks won their fifth straight game, dispatching the lowly Arizona Coyotes by a score of 3-0. Vancouver will look to add to their season-long winning streak when they face division rival Calgary this evening.

The winner of this game will take a 2-1 lead in the season series, as the Canucks won the season opener in a shootout before being beaten soundly by the Flames just two weeks ago.

Matchup

Calgary Flames (21-17-2, 44 points) vs Vancouver Canucks (19-18-3, 41 points)

Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver

Time: 7 pm PT

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

By the numbers

  Canucks Flames
Goals for 2.4 (22nd) 2.68 (16th)
Goals against 2.88 (21st) 2.78 (17th)
Power play % 13.9 (27th) 20.7 (10th)
Penalty kill % 80.3 (21st) 81.6 (16th)
Shots for 27.7 (29th) 28.5 (25th)
Shots against 30.5 (18th) 28.7 (7th)
Faceoff % 52.4 (5th) 49.5 (17th)

Lineup

Reid Boucher will need to wait a little longer to make his Canucks debut, as Willie Desjardins doesn’t want to mess with a winning lineup. The same 20 players that played on Wednesday will suit up on Friday, with Ryan Miller getting the start in goal once again.

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

What you need to know

1. Playoffs within reach

Don’t look now, but the Canucks could be in a playoff spot by the end of the day. A win against the Flames coupled with a Nashville loss would vault Vancouver against of the LA Kings into the second wild card spot.

2. Blue line blues

Image: Vancouver Canucks / Facebook

It’s hard to be critical during a five-game win streak, but there has been a noticeable hole in the Canucks game during the entire 2016-17 season, let alone this most recent stretch. In the previous five games, Vancouver has zero goals from their defencemen.

In a combined 241 games this season, nine different Canuck blueliners have just nine goals and Ben Hutton has four of them. That’s just .037 goals per game. Only Boston, Buffalo, and Colorado are worse in that category.

Tonight would be an excellent chance for Willie Desjardins’ club to get some support from their back-end. With the Horvat line carrying the team, as well as Henrik Sedin and Loui Eriksson seemingly on track, some contributions from the defence could put this team into playoff contention in a weak Western Conference.

Indeed, one of those nine goals came against the Flames in their most recent meeting as Nikita Tryamkin scored his first and only goal this season. The top pairing of Alex Edler and Troy Stecher certainly has the offensive capability to provide the much-needed spark for this group. Look for them to step up tonight.

3. Feeble Flames no more

The Calgary Flames enter tonight’s contest in playoff position and well within reach of the division lead. It would appear the basement dwelling days are over for now. In their last seven games, Calgary is 5-2-0 and a couple players have led the way in particular.

Mikael Backlund has ten of his twenty-five points this season during that seven-game stretch, notching an impressive seven goals in that time. Even more promising if you’re a Flames fan? Stud rookie Matthew Tkachuk has eight points during Calgary’s recent run.

Once Canucks assistant coach Glen Gulutzan has to be pleased with the way things are going and would probably like to stick it to his former team again tonight. As a head coach, Gulutzan is 5-3-1 against the Canucks, stretching back to his days behind the bench in Dallas.

Prediction

It’s been a fun stretch for Canucks’ players and fans alike. A nice cherry on top of this streak would be a convincing win over the rival Flames. While the contempt for the Bruins, Blackhawks, and Kings has dissipated in recent years, it’s still fairly easy to despise Calgary.

Canucks finally get some goals from the blue line as Edler and Stecher both score in the Canucks sixth straight win. Vancouver wins 4-3.


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Lachlan Macintosh
Above average cook, below average fantasy football player, Harvard graduate, and eternal lover of the Peyote Coyote.

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