Just outside of a wild card spot after picking up points in Nashville and Philadelphia, the Canucks return home to face a somewhat familiar foe. We all know and probably miss Cory Schneider. However, Vancouver will look to put a few pucks past their former teammate this afternoon.
A win helps keep the unlikeliest of dreams (a playoff spot) alive too.
New Jersey Devils (17-18-9, 43 points) vs Vancouver Canucks (20-19-5, 45 points)
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Time: 4 pm PT
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||2.41 (25th)||2.18 (28th)|
|Goals against||2.86 (T-19th)||2.86 (T-19th)|
|Power play %||13.7 (27th)||13.3 (28th)|
|Penalty kill %||79.7 (22nd)||83 (10th)|
|Shots for||27.7 (29th)||27.4 (30th)|
|Shots against||30.8 (21st)||31.4 (24th)|
|Faceoff %||52.3 (5th)||50.4 (11th)|
Facing his former team, could this be the game Reid Boucher finally gets in the lineup? Judging by the team skate yesterday, it seems unlikely.
#Canucks are skating Burrows on D with Pedan so Rodin can fit in on rushes with Horvat line. Did the same with Baertschi in Philly practice
— Jon Abbott (@HockeyAbbs) January 14, 2017
Also, it doesn’t appear Anton Rodin will see any playing time, though the coaching staff is clearly trying to get him more accustomed to team systems.
EDIT: Markstrom for the Canucks tonight vs Schneider
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) January 15, 2017
Additionally, Jacob Markstrom will get his 19th start of the season this afternoon.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Eriksson|
What you need to know
1. State of Affairs
Partially due to the ineptitude of the Western Conference, the race for a wild card spot has become fairly interesting. Six teams are within five points of each other. The Canucks, while currently out of the playoff picture, are still very much in the mix.
2. Shots at a premium
Don’t expect too much excitement from the two teams on the ice tonight. Noted for their defensive (some might say boring) style, the Devils are the only team with a lower shots per game rate than the Canucks. Additionally, as you can see below, both teams are not exactly “high pace” clubs.
Tor will probably stay out there all year. Det hopped into the stream. NJ's back where they tend to be. Stl and Nyi are of note pic.twitter.com/aCI8iGHaL5
— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) January 13, 2017
While it may not have been the most technically sound game they’ve played this season, the Canucks and Flyers tilt on Thursday evening was a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come.
3. Lackluster Lucifers
Though just two points behind the Canucks in the league standings, the Devils are seven points out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. It’s yet another glaring example of the difference between the East and West this season.
In their first meeting this season, the Devils held on for a 3-2 win in New Jersey. With goals from Kyle Palmieri and offseason acquisitions Taylor Hall and Ben Lovejoy, New Jersey would be able to sweep the season series with a win this afternoon.
This was also the game Taylor Hall absolutely levelled Philip Larsen (who has yet to play since). Both Hall and Palmieri scored on Friday night to get a 2-1 win in Calgary.
While Keith Kinkaid started against the Flames, Cory Schneider has started thirty-three of the forty-four games so far this season. He’ll do so against his old club today. Schneider holds a .909 save percentage and a pedestrian 2.73 goals against average. Much of that is due to the team in front of him though, as is his 12-14-7 record. Only Frederik Andersen and Cam Talbot face more shots per game among those goalies with at least 30 starts.
For all of the hand-wringing and head-scratching before the season, the Canucks have managed to stay somewhat relevant in the Western Conference playoff picture. Much of that is due to the improved goaltending of late and the pleasant, if unexpected, emergence of Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi.
A win this afternoon would keep Vancouver in the hunt and go towards shaking the reputation of “playing down” to the level of some of the league’s lesser teams. Canucks make a statement with a 6-2 win and chase Schneider.