Our intrepid reporter Ian Lusher is on his way to go see what Roberto Luongo is up to in South Florida, so I am getting called up from the minors to do some of the game previews. As a full time member of ‘Tank Nation’, I am hoping for some poor results (for a better draft pick) but, Monday’s game should actually be winnable for the Canucks, facing the New York Islanders on home ice.
The Canucks took 14 shots against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, and still won. That perfectly sums up the game, as it was a dull affair with little happening in any way. But we were treated to this:
It was nice to see the surly Bieksa back. If you haven’t already, check out Bieksa’s appearance on CBC’s After Hours. You can usually count on Boom-Boom to be quick witted and charismatic when put in front of the cameras with Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey.
Another positive to Saturday’s game was Darren Archibald scoring his first NHL goal. Archibald was an undrafted player out of the OHL that the Canucks signed with hopes that he could become an effective bottom 6 player. It’s always nice when undrafted players see success in the NHL, and hopefully we see him continue to build off of this success. Tortorella has commented in the past that he would like to see Archibald become a permanent member of the lineup.
The New York Islanders are crawling into town (2-3-1 since the Olympic break) after losing their captain, John Tavares, to a serious knee injury in Sochi. Early in the season, they made a large deal to acquire sniper Thomas Vanek from Buffalo, with the intention of making the playoffs (they gave up a 1st round pick, a 2nd round pick and Matt Moulson to do it). Unfortunately the plan backfired, as they didn’t see the success they had hoped for, and then had to trade Vanek to Montreal at the trade deadline for pennies on the dollar (Sebastian Collberg and 2nd round pick for Vanek).
After making the playoffs last season, many people (myself included) expected the Islanders to take another step forward this year, but they just never seemed to be able to put together a good stretch of games.
John Tortorella will start Monday’s game the way Saturday’s game ended with Nicklas Jensen playing with Henrik Sedin. Eddie Lack gets the start in net again, while Zack Kassian will be serving the second game of his three-game suspension. Ryan Stanton and Brad Richardson are still day-to-day with injuries. Here is how the lines looked at practice on Monday morning:
Burrows- H. Sedin – Jensen
Higgins – Kesler – Hansen
Sestito – Matthias – Booth
Archibald – Schroeder – Dalpe
Hamhuis – Tanev
Edler – Bieksa
Weber – Garrison
I have been a Lack fan since I saw him play for the Chicago Wolves in Abbotsford. He is big, he has great lateral movement, and seems unfazed by the pressure that comes with both the game and the business. At the moment he is tenth in the league in save percentage (.922) and eighth in the league in goals against average (2.15). He has been a bright spot in a fairly miserable season for the Canucks, however he is very early in his tenure as the Canucks top netminder, so only time will tell if he can maintain those stats.
Given his play this season, and his unfazed positivity, I think he can. After letting in a goal from centre ice against the Flames, he still had the sense of humour to tweet this:
Almost had it…. pic.twitter.com/xi8aq7gBeD
— Eddie Lack (@eddielack) March 9, 2014
All aboard the #Jensentrain! (credit to @Taj1944 on Twitter for that awesome hashtag)
Nicklas Jensen played over 16 minutes on Saturday night in a top six role. Even though it was against the Flames, it was good to see him given a chance with that much ice time. He started the game with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins, but finished the game with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. He was obviously nervous as the spotlight was placed on him to score some goals, but I think he played consistently and hopefully can build on the success of Saturday’s game.
The depths of Alex Burrows’ goal drought is remarkable. The current NHL record for most shots on goal in a season without a goal is 84. Burrows is currently at 79.
It pains me to say this, but I think the Canucks win by a 3-0 score. I didn’t say the word, so I didn’t jinx it.