While they didn’t make it easy on themselves, the Canucks improved to 7-10-1 Thursday evening against last-place Arizona with a thrilling overtime finish courtesy of Ben Hutton. Tonight they’ll look to win consecutive games for the first time since they began the season 4-0.
However, it won’t be easy – it never is – as they face the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks.
Chicago Blackhawks (12-4-2, 26 points) vs Vancouver Canucks (7-10-1, 15 points)
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Time: 7 pm PT
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||2.06 (29th)||3.11 (7th)|
|Goals against||3.11 (25th)||2.44 (10th)|
|Power play %||10.9 (27th)||18.2 (12th)|
|Penalty kill %||82.3 (17th)||70.2 (30th)|
|Shots for||29.5 (14th)||28.7 (23rd)|
|Shots against||28.3 (9th)||30.7 (19th)|
|Faceoff %||51.7 (6th)||49.4 (17th)|
With Ryan Miller still not fully recovered from the flu – but healthy enough to dress – Jacob Markstrom starts his third consecutive game this evening.
Jayson Megna is back from injury and will replace Derek Dorsett, who was banged up on Thursday. Here’s how the Canucks lined up at practice:
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Sutter|
What you need to know
1. Goals (and more goals) against
When looking at the two teams’ statistics, several numbers jump out at you. First of all, Vancouver still can’t score and now they seemingly can’t keep the puck out of their own net. Obviously, that’s not a recipe for success. Chicago is a different story, ranking seventh and 10th in those categories, respectively.
If you remove the first four games of the season, in which Vancouver allowed just one goal three times, the Canucks have only managed to repeat that feat once in the subsequent 14 contests. Oh, and it was a 1-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators… That unfortunate streak adds up to an abysmal average of 3.57 goals allowed per game.
At the other end of the ice, the Blackhawks are seventh in the NHL, averaging 3.11 goals per game and unless Jacob Markstrom stands on his head tonight, there’s a good chance both of those aforementioned averages could spike.
2. Same old Blackhawks
In direct contrast to the Canucks, Chicago has four players scoring at or around a point per game rate. Led by last year’s MVP Patrick Kane (1.05), Artem Anisimov (1.05), Artemi Panarin (0.94), and Marian Hossa (0.94), the Hawks boast a venerable offence that can strike at any time. For reference, Daniel Sedin leads Vancouver with just 0.67 points per game.
Since starting the season 2-3, Chicago has ridden that offence to a 10-1-2 record. In the midst of a west coast road trip, Vancouver will host the Blackhawks in Chicago’s second game in as many days. They visited Calgary last night and came away with a 3-2 win thanks to a late goal from Marian Hossa.
If there is a weakness on this Chicago team, it’s their dismal penalty kill. In only 57 opportunities (13th), the opposition has amassed 17 power play goals, second most in the NHL. If Vancouver can use an extra day of rest and move their feet to draw some penalties, they could exploit a league-worst Chicago penalty kill that is succeeding just 70.2 percent of the time.
With Chicago having played last night in Calgary, I’m a little less anxious about tonight’s proceedings. A fully-rested Hawks team is a scary proposition, so I’ll take any slight advantage.
Canucks score two on the power play and win another squeaker by a score of 3-2.