In what is sure to be an emotional spectacle at the Bell Centre, the Vancouver Canucks are in town to face the Montreal Canadiens on a night to honor a true legend: Jean Beliveau.
It has been just over a week since the passing of Jean Beliveau and while the tributes have been pouring in, the biggest ceremony has yet to take place.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) December 8, 2014
If there is one thing the Montreal Canadiens have mastered, it’s honouring their heritage. Aside from Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, there is perhaps no bigger piece of the legendary story of Les Habitants than Jean Beliveau. The man that transcended the game of hockey was at the Bell Centre for one last time.
— Annakin Slayd (@AnnakinSlayd) December 9, 2014
Game Time: 4:30 pm
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
The Canucks are facing some adversity for the first time in a long while after dropping their last two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators. Although two losses in a row should never really be a cause for concern, the fashion in which Vancouver lost these games has to have head coach Willie Desjardins vigorously scratching his moustache.
For the current core of the Canucks, games in Eastern Canada have always been an exciting opportunity. But on their current road trip, the two games in Ontario have been a disaster with Vancouver barely mustering enough energy to put their skates on.
As they are on the latter half of the longest trip of the season, fatigue could be a factor in their recent play. The Canucks will at least have another chance to make their mark and earn a very respectable 4-2-1 record
1. Weather the Storm Early
The Canadiens will no doubt have the early momentum after their tribute to Jean Beliveau is finished. Many, if not all, of the current Canadiens have some connection to the former captain of the Habs and they will be ready to go right away.
These ceremonies often have a very positive affect on the home team and Kevin Bieksa himself stated that Pat Quinn’s memorial gave the Canucks an extra jolt of energy. It will be tough, but if the Canucks can get through the first period without surrendering a goal against, they’ll be in a good position so possibly steal two points from the Canadiens.
2. Time to Rattle the Cage?
Willie Desjardins has shown a tremendous amount of patience towards his forward lines so far this season. Especially when you compare him to his predecessors who tossed their lines into the blender because they felt like it.
The problem is, however, that the Sedin line featuring Radim Vrbata is still rolling along just fine. So there is not point in breaking that party up just yet.
The fourth line with Hansen, Dorsett, and Horvat continues to amaze on a game-by-game basis and should not be broken up at this point either. Same with the third line as well.
The line that has struggled the most in recent games has been the second line and in particular, Nick Bonino. But with all three other lines playing well, there is no one to shuffle with. Unless Zack Kassian is ready to come back from his injury or the coaching staff wants to finally give Nick Jensen another shot, it looks like Desjardins will continue to roll his lines and hope that the chemistry will come back in time to finish off this road trip in style.
3. Speaking of Nick Jensen…
It’s hard to be critical about any of the decisions that management has made since coming into power over the summer. Thanks to the trifecta of Trevor Linden, Jim Benning, and Willie Desjardins, the Canucks are currently sitting in second place in the Western Conference.
However, the one thing that I am beginning to question is their treatment of some of Vancouver’s most promising propects: Frankie Corrado and Nick Jensen.
Both have been recalled from the Utica Comets to fill in for some key injuries that the Canucks have sustained over the last little while. The only problem is that with the exception of Jensen’s one game in Ottawa, they have yet to regularly suit up during their latest stint with the big club.
While it’s common and perfectly understandable to call up a prospect for injury relief, keeping them up without playing a game is potentially damaging to their development as they spend more time in the press box eating popcorn than playing games. At this stage in their development, it would be better to have the young guys play as much as possible.
Expect the same lineup as last game. Frank Corrado will be a healthy scratch, Ryan Miller will start in net.
*Update: Matthias could play
Our @DTeam1040 tells us that Shawn Matthias will be checked out by #Canucks doctor before being cleared for tonight's game.
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) December 9, 2014
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Vrbata|
Well, the moment I decided to point out my impeccable prediction record is the moment I forever jinxed myself, resulting in my first defeat of the season. I deserved that.
As much as I want to see the Canucks steal this one to solidify a very solid 4-2-1 record on their seven game road trip, I can’t imagine the Canadiens will be too keen to drop it.
Les Canadiens de Montreal take this one 4-2 in one of the only feel good losses you will ever see.
Merci, Mr. Beliveau, Vous allez nous manquer.