Just 24 hours after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Dallas Stars, the Vancouver Canucks finish off their quick three-game road trip by visiting the Colorado Avalanche. Tonight’s result will likely determine the success of this quick jaunt; a win would give the Canucks four out of a possible six points while a loss would leave them with just two points (or three if they get to extra time).
The Avalanche have the same point total (18) as the Canucks, albeit having played two fewer games. Colorado’s last game was a 6-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night. They will be well rested, led by fourth-year pro Nathan MacKinnon, who has 15 points.
Semyon Varlamov has an upper body injury, so Colorado will start Calvin Pickard in goal; he’ll be making his seventh appearance of the season.
Vancouver Canucks (8-11-2, 18 points) vs Colorado Avalanche (9-10-0, 18 points)
Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver
Time: 7 pm PT
TV: CBC, Sportsnet Pacific
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||2.14 (29th)||2.21 (27th)|
|Goals against||3.00 (23rd)||2,89 (21st)|
|Power play %||11.5 (28th)||16.7 (19th)|
|Penalty kill %||84.2 (10th)||78.2 (27th)|
|Shots for||29.3 (17th)||29.1 (22nd)|
|Shots against||28.9 (10th)||31.5 (25th)|
|Faceoff %||51.6 (6th)||51.8 (5th)|
The Canucks may make a couple of lineup changes given they played last night in Dallas. Philip Larsen could draw back into the lineup, while Alex Grenier is also traveling with the team.
Alex Biega won’t draw into the lineup tonight, as he has been sent to the AHL on a conditioning assignment.
For now, we’ll assume the same lineup as last night. Jacob Markstrom will get the start in goal.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Sutter|
What you need to know
1. Who are these guys?
Michael Chaput. Jayson Megna. Joseph Labate. Alexandre Grenier.
These guys are barely household names in their own households yet they are playing quite capably for the injury-riddled Canucks. Thrust into action because of injuries to Sven Baertschi, Jannik Hansen, and Derek Dorsett (and the demotion of Jake Virtanen), the threesome has played hard and certainly aren’t liabilities on the ice.
In particular, Megna had a strong game last night replacing Baertschi and playing with Bo Horvat and Alex Burrows. The line had good chemistry, had numerous scoring chances, and was easily the most dangerous Canucks line. Megna opened the scoring on the Canucks’ first shot of the game.
WHAT. A. MOVE.
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) November 26, 2016
The Canucks will continue to rely on them to provide depth and stability as they wait for their regulars to return.
2. Edler is struggling
Like many Canucks, defenceman Alex Edler has had a rough start to the year. Through 20 games, Edler has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and his minus 8 rating is the third-worst on the team.
Granted, he’s been without his regular partner Chris Tanev for two-thirds of the young season, but rookie Troy Stecher has filled in admirably in Tanev’s absence. Edler continues to get power play time, and last night he was on the ice for the entire final two minutes. Not that he did that much during that time:
Alex Edler on that final #Canucks powerplay:
-3 of his shots blocked
-2 good passes to Stecher
-1 give away at the blue line
— Clay Imoo (@CanuckClay) November 26, 2016
And I was going easy on him. Take a look at this sample of tweets:
Edler is the veteran of the Canucks blue line and needs to play better and have more of an impact. He plays tentatively and could be more of a physical presence. I contend that he hasn’t been the same since he was suspended at the 2013 World Hockey Championships for kneeing Eric Staal.
3. MacKinnon leads the way
Centre Nathan MacKinnon is red hot, having scored seven points in his last four games. MacKinnon is learning to become a more consistent player after an outstanding rookie campaign in 2013-14 followed by two less productive seasons.
MacKinnon has had to carry the offensive load for the Avalanche with both Matt Duchene and captain Gabriel Landeskog injured.
At 21 years-old, MacKinnon is the Avs’ second-youngest forward and it looks as this season might be his breakout year.
The Canucks haven’t been faring well on Saturday nights, picking up only one win in five contests (their only win was the season-opener at home versus the Calgary Flames). This will be the night they start to reverse the trend.
Look for a Canucks 4-2 win. Horvat, Sutter, Eriksson, and Daniel will be the goal scorers.