For the second straight game, the Vancouver Canucks will host the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena.
The first contest was a success on all accounts, as the Canucks, backed by the support of the new supporters’ section, took down the Jets in an entertaining 4-1 game.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) December 21, 2016
Tonight they have the opportunity to deliver back-to-back regulation wins, something the Canucks still haven’t accomplished 33 games into this season.
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Winnipeg Jets (15-17-3, 33 points) vs Vancouver Canucks (14-16-3, 31 points)
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Time: 7 pm PT
TV: Sportsnet Vancouver
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals For||2.45 (23rd)||2.54 (17th)|
|Goals Against||3.03 (26th)||2.94 (24th)|
|Power play %||14.3 (26th)||14.9 (25th)|
|Penalty kill %||80.2 (20th)||76.0 (28th)|
|Shots for||28.7 (23rd)||27.9 (30th)|
|Shots against||30.3 (18th)||30.1 (16th)|
|Faceoff %||51.5 (7th)||46.9 (30th)|
The Canucks will go with the same lineup that won on Tuesday with the exception of in goal, where Ryan Miller will get the start.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Hansen|
What you need to know
1. Floodgates have opened
Lack of goal scoring has been a dark cloud hanging over the Canucks all season long, but lately the team has found ways to generate offence.
Since being blanked 3-0 against Washington, the Canucks have scored 17 goals in four games. That’s a pace of 4.25 goals-per-game, nearly double the 2.45 goals they’ve averaged this season.
What’s more encouraging is the scoring has come from lines beyond the Sedin twins, and the defence has finally seen an increase in offensive production as well.
The fourth line has been receiving fewer minutes, while the Bae-Bo-Burr line continues to be effective.
A goal so nice, it's worth watching twice. Or 10 times. pic.twitter.com/4ipn3qDJ08
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 21, 2016
The bad news? The floodgates have been open for the opposition too, as the Canucks have allowed 15 goals in that same four game span, which includes an ugly eight goals against in Carolina.
The Canucks are now averaging over three goals per game on the season, which is a poor recipe with a team that claims to be competing for a playoff spot.
Only four teams in the league allow more goals: the Coyotes, Stars, Islanders, and Avalanche. Not very good company.
2. The ‘Big 5’ in Winnipeg
The Jets aren’t in a playoff spot, but it’s hard to point the blame for that at any of Winnipeg’s top players.
The Jets’ top line of Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Patrik Laine, as well as their captain Blake Wheeler and top blueliner Dustin Byfuglien are the team’s top five scorers currently, each with at least 22 points.
Winnipeg’s sixth-leading scorer? Adam Lowry, with nine points. Yes, the Jets only have five players who are double digits in points, 35 games into the season. Yikes.
Even the Canucks, who have had scoring woes all season, have eight players in double digits, and another three sitting at nine points.
If the Jets want to point fingers for where they are in the standings, they could be pointed at depth, systems, goaltending, special teams… pretty much anyone outside the big five.
3. Not-so-special teams
Specialty teams have not been the Canucks strength this season, and it’s been ever-so-noticeable in the team’s recent stretch.
Canucks PP is like looking into the sun.
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) December 21, 2016
The Canucks power play being bad is nothing new, but they’ve actually looked worse recently, and seem to have trouble simply getting sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
In hindsight, the drinking game of "take a shot for each shot the Canucks get on the PP" was a terrible idea
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 11, 2016
The Canucks power play is more stale than a piece of bread at a celiac’s house. It desperately needs a shake-up.
The penalty kill on the other hand, was actually a strength for the Canucks until recently.
Going into the game against the Capitals on December 11th, the Canucks sat fifth in the NHL in penalty-killing at 85.3%.
Now? They’re all the way down to 20th at 80.2%, more than a five percent drop in just 11 days. That’s what happens when you allow one power play goal (at least) in five straight games.
The caveat in all this here is that Winnipeg’s special teams have been every bit as bad – actually somehow worse in fact – than the Canucks, so something has to give.
Coming off a strong outing on Tuesday, the Canucks will pull together another victory against the Jets tonight, but this time will take a bit of extra work.
The Canucks will take the game 4-3 in a shootout, leaving them still searching for their first back-to-back regulation wins of the season.