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Hockey, Sports

Torts returns to face Canucks, in search of 500th win

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Ian Lusher Dec 18, 2016 1:37 am 615

Willie Desjardins’ bags were half packed.

A lopsided loss against against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night could have meant the end of Willie’s tenure as the Canucks bench boss. Instead, Vancouver beat the Bolts 4-2.

The Canucks will look to continue their momentum at home in a rare early afternoon game against the might Columbus Blue Jackets.

Matchup

Vancouver Canucks (13-16-2, 28 points) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (19-5-4, 42 points)

Venue:  Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC

Time: 1 pm PT

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: TSN 1040

By the numbers

  Canucks Blue Jackets
Goals for 2.39 (22nd) 3.32 (3rd)
Goals against 3.06 (28th) 2.04 (2nd)
Power play % 14.3 (27th) 25.9 (1st)
Penalty kill % 82.1 (15th) 82.3 (14th)
Shots for 29.2 (19th) 31.0 (8th)
Shots against 30.5 (13th) 29.3 (21st)
Faceoff % 51.3 (8th) 47.6 (28th)

Lineup

Both Erik Gudbranson and Troy Stecher missed practice on Saturday. Stecher is officially listed as day-to-day with “soreness”, while Gudbranson is dealing with a wrist issue that is more serious.

Given that, the Canucks have recalled Andrey Pedan from the Utica Comets.

We’ll have to wait until the pre-game warmup to see today’s lineup, but expect something close to what we saw on Friday.

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

What you need to know

1. Sbisa surprising

Luca Sbisa has been a punchline since arriving from Anaheim in the infamous Ryan Kesler trade, but it appears he has turned a corner this season.

Sbisa is tied with Ben Hutton for the team lead in points from the back end with eight.

The reality is that Sbisa is adequate in a bottom pairing role. He is simply just overpaid.

It is hard to not imagine him as the most likely Canuck to end up in a Vegas Golden Knights jersey next season.

2. Horvat’s time to make an impact

Despite the head coach’s determined effort to bury him in the defensive zone, Bo Horvat is doing everything he can to make an offensive impact. The 21-year-old from London, Ontario scored his ninth goal of the season on Friday night and seems poised to take over the reins as the Canucks go to guy.

Many feel Horvat could be a 30-goal scorer if only he was given a more offensive role. Time will tell, but he may hit the 30-goal mark while leading the team in defensive zone starts.

3. He’s BACK

It seems uncanny the amount of milestone games the Canucks have been involved in over the years. With a win today, John Tortorella will notch the 500th win in his career. Talk about interesting timing.

The Blue Jackets have been on an absolute tear of late with a 9-0-1 record in their last 10 games. In their last five games, they’ve outscored their opponents by a total of 21-6. Torts really has them firing on all cylinders.

It is simply unbelievable that Tortorella is even coaching in the NHL, let alone the early favourite for the Jack Adams. But here he is, with his Blue Jackets sitting with the fifth-best record in the NHL this season.

Columbus is led in scoring by Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, and Brandon Saad. Ultra-inexpensive free agent, Sam Gagner, has made a large impact early with 22 points in 27 games.

Prediction

The win against the Lightning was nice, but the Canucks were playing against a Bolts lineup missing Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Nikita Kucherov.

Vancouver will not be so lucky against the mighty Blue Jackets. Columbus takes this one 4-1 and Torts gets the last laugh.

 


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

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