After an exciting win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday evening, the Canucks are set to face one of the best teams in the league Tuesday in Pittsburgh. While Sidney Crosby and the Penguins have alternated wins and losses over their last four games, there is no denying the capability of the defending Stanley Cup champs.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) February 13, 2017
Despite positive news on the injury status of Bo Horvat (he has a deep bone bruise, but no fracture), this is going to be Vancouver’s toughest test on their current road trip.
Vancouver Canucks (25-25-6, 56 points) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (34-13-7, 75 points)
Venue: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh
Time: 4 pm PT
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||2.34 (27th)||3.54 (1st)|
|Goals against||2.82 (19th)||2.83 (20th)|
|Power play %||15.6 (27th)||22.2 (4th)|
|Penalty kill %||79 (T-23rd)||79 (T-23rd)|
|Shots for||28 (28th)||34.2 (2nd)|
|Shots against||31 (21st)||32.1 (25th)|
|Faceoff %||52 (6th)||47.9 (25th)|
— Jon Abbott (@HockeyAbbs) February 14, 2017
Horvat will miss his first game of the season, after injuring his leg blocking a shot late in Sunday’s win.
Impressive final shift from Bo Horvat last night against Buffalo. Great effort. pic.twitter.com/meRHGCVJhf
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) February 13, 2017
Brendan Gaunce has been called up from Utica, and will step into Horvat’s spot between Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen. Brandon Sutter skated this morning, but is listed as questionable.
Ryan Miller gets the start after the night off in Buffalo.
If Sutter can’t play, it might create a lineup shuffle. Defenceman Alex Biega would likely get into the lineup as a fourth line winger, while Granlund would have to shift off his line to play in the middle.
*Update: Sutter will sit out. He appeared to injure his wrist last game.
Here’s how they’ll line-up tonight:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Granlund|
What you need to know
1. Playoff Hopes Growing Dimmer
With a loss to the Arizona Coyotes last night, the Calgary Flames failed to inflate their three-point cushion on the Canucks in the wild card race. However, the two current wild card teams, Nashville and Los Angeles, have 62 points and 60 points respectively.
While a win tonight in Pittsburgh would certainly provide some short-term enjoyment, it is likely too late for the Canucks to make a serious run at the playoffs. If the Canucks can get on a run to end the season, they could squeak in.
But does anyone see that coming?
This realization has many clamouring for the team to sell what assets they do have, such as Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen.
2. Penguins Flying
As the Canucks find themselves increasingly out of reach of a playoff spot, the Pittsburgh Penguins are gearing up to defend their title as Stanley Cup champions. This team looks as good a prospect as any to do so for the first time since 1997 and 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings went back-to-back.
Of course, Sidney Crosby is still the best player in the world (despite what you may hear coming out of Edmonton and/or Toronto) and he leads a formidable offence for the Penguins. Sid the Kid leads the league in goals (30) and is just one point behind Connor McDavid for the league lead in points (60), despite missing time with a concussion to begin the season.
However, Evgeni Malkin (54 points) and Phil Kessel (53 points) are both making a charge to join Crosby atop the leaderboard. To put those numbers in perspective, the Canucks don’t have a single player on their team above even 40 points!
The Penguins boast the best goals per game average (3.54) in the league and the second highest shots per game average (34.2). It’s safe to say Ryan Miller is going to have his work cut out for him tonight.
3. Crosby goes for 1K
Crosby is hot on the heels of Henrik Sedin on the all-time scoring list.
He’s two points away from scoring his 1000th point. Canucks fans are no doubt sick of star players getting milestone points against them.
— Wayne Gretzky's T.O. (@WayneGretzkysTO) March 21, 2015
Thus far on a pivotal road trip, the Canucks have played some entertaining games, but have gone just 2-2-0. If they intend on playing an up-tempo style against this Penguins team, that road trip record could quickly become 2-3-0.
That being said, I think the Canucks recognize the dire straits they’re in and squeak out a gritty shootout win by a score of 3-2.