After winning their first four games of the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks have now dropped four straight. With nine points in those eight games, the Canucks are tied with Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division with the Kings and Ducks right behind them.
One night after losing 2-0 to Connor McDavid and the Oilers, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are in town.
Washington Capitals (3-2-1, 7 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (4-3-1, 9 points)
Venue: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC
Time: 7 pm PT
Radio: TSN 1040
By the numbers
|Goals for||1.75 (30th)||2.33 (27th)|
|Goals against||2.25 (5th)||2.17 (4th)|
|Power play %||12.0 (26th)||10.5 (29th)|
|Penalty kill %||84.2 (10th)||72,2 (28th)|
|Shots for||25.0 (30th)||33.5 (2nd)|
|Shots against||27.6 (23rd)||25.5 (28th)|
|Faceoff %||48.9 (20th)||51.0 (10th)|
Jayson Megna is out with an injury, which means that recent call-up Mike Zalewski will draw into the lineup. Brendan Gaunce left Friday’s game with an injury, but practiced on Saturday and looks to be ok.
The Canucks could make a change on defence given they’re playing in back-to-back nights and Nikita Tryamkin and Alex Biega are waiting in the wings.
Expect Jacob Markstrom to get the start in goal.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Eriksson|
What you need to know
1. The Canucks can’t store
I know, I know: tell me something I didn’t know.
The stats say it all: 30th (last) in goals scored per game, 30th in shots on goal, and 26th in power play percentage. If it’s any consolation, the visiting Capitals aren’t much better offensively as they are 27th in goals scored per game and 29th in power play percentage.
We’re now one-tenth through the schedule and there are a long list of Canucks still looking for their first goal: Loui Eriksson, Sven Baertschi, and Jake Virtanen to name a few. And it’s not because of lack of opportunity: both Baertschi and Virtanen had point-blank chances in last night’s game.
In fact, the last time the Canucks scored was last Sunday in the third period in Anaheim.
We all knew that the Canucks would have to win games 2-1 and 3-2 to be successful. The problem is, they can’t even get one.
2. Looking for a game-breaker
Watching Connor McDavid last night, I appreciated just how explosive of a player he is. Case in point:
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) October 29, 2016
McDavid is a special player who can be dangerous on every single shift; you always have to know where he is on the ice.
While he’s a bit past his prime, Ovechkin is similarly a difference maker. Look around the league, and there are others: Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, Patrick Kane in Chicago, Tyler Seguin in Dallas, and Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay.
The Canucks don’t have a game breaker. Sure, they have players who have flashes of dominance and excitement, but there isn’t really anyone in the line up who an opposing team really needs to worry about shutting down.
Bo Horvat could be that player down the road, but he’s still a ways away.
Bottom line: the Canucks are too easy to defend against…and it’s showing in their offensive totals.
3. Heading out on the road
Seven of the Canucks’ first nine games were at home; and their two road games were in the same time zone (in California). Depending on tonight’s outcome, the Canucks would have amassed 8-10 points in those seven games.
That’s not bad (especially if the Canucks win tonight), but it’s not great.
Over the next two weeks, the Canucks will play in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Long Island, New York, and Detroit. The six games actually are in nine nights, as there are two back-to-backs in there.
By the time the Canucks return home in mid-November, we’ll have an even clearer picture of who they are, and whether or not they’ll be in a position to fight for a post-season spot in the new year.
Everything is pointing to a Capitals win tonight: they are well rested, the Canucks played last night, and the Canucks are already decimated by injury.
It’s for those very reasons that I have a strange feeling that the Canucks are going to prevail tonight before embarking on their long road trip.
Look for a 3-1 Canucks win – with Eriksson, Baertschi, and Virtanen netting their first goals of the season.