With a short and successful 2 game California road trip completed, the Canucks start a 5-game home stand on New Year’s Day against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings are coming off of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Wait! What? Meanwhile, the Canucks are looking to build on an impressive 3-1 road win against the San Jose Sharks.
Game Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
The Canucks continue to hold their own in the very tough Pacific Division while the Los Angeles Kings come into town with an extremely mediocre 4-8-6 road record. Regardless, the Kings seem to always play extremely well against the Canucks. One thing is for certain, these two teams do not like each other. Expect a battle!
1. Jannik Hansen
Vancouver's Jannik Hansen has been fined $5,000 for an illegal check to the head of San Jose's Tommy Wingels.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 31, 2014
Hansen escaped suspension from a check on Sharks forward Tommy Wingels that looked similar to the check that landed Alex Burrows a 3 game suspension earlier in the season. The NHL Department of Player Safety continues it’s run of being consistently inconsistent. The Canucks dodged a bit of a bullet there given Hansen’s play has been stellar of late. Hansen was the best forward on the ice in the Canucks game against the Sharks. Hansen leads the list of Canucks players enjoying a bounce back season from a dismal one last year.
2. Canucks Improved?
After 35 games, the Canucks have 45 points. Last year after 35 games? They also had 45 points.
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) December 31, 2014
Nothing gets by Rob the Hockey Guy. Are the Canucks really improved this season? Rob’s tweet clearly shows the Canucks are no better or worse than they were last year at this time. That being said, Canucks fans can feel confident that this year’s team is more than capable of securing a playoff spot. You can boil the optimism down to one person: Willie Desjardins. You won’t see Desjardins storming opposing team’s dressing rooms, playing his Top 6 into exhaustion, or creating goalie controversies for absolutely no reason whatsoever. All of the major issues that led to the Canucks demise last season simply do not exist this year. Increased depth and the high likelihood that “Trader Jim” Benning has a few more tricks up his sleeve add to the belief the Canucks can continue their run of success.
3. Penalty Kill
2014-2015 – Regular Season – Total Penalty Kill %
|Team||Home: GP||TS||PPGA||H PK%||Road: GP||R TS||PPGA||PK%||Total: GP||TS||PPGA||PK%||SHG|
The Canucks penalty kill has been very good this season and has moved into the ranks of the elite. Vancouver currently sits 3rd overall in penalty kill % with an 87.3% kill rate. If the Canucks could improve their power play % into the Top 10 (the Canucks currently rank 12th in the NHL), they could surprise in the last 47 games of the season. NHL teams that win the special teams battle generally win a lot. It is as simple as that.
Dan Hamhuis is the lone injured Canuck. Tom Sesitito most certainly will be watching from the press box along with Bobby Sanguinetti. Zack Kassian is ready to return to the lineup, but we don’t know if he will play. Willie Desjardins has a decision to make with Linden Vey as a healthy scratch candidate. Stay tuned for updates.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Vrbata|
The Canucks are coming off of an impressive win against the San Jose Sharks and the Kings are enjoying New Years Eve in Vancouver. The Canucks take this one 4-2. Happy New Year!