After suffering a 4-3 shootout loss in Pittsburgh yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks (5-3-1) will try to get back on the winning track when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (2-5-0) tonight at the Nationwide Arena.
It's safe to say if the Canucks turn in performances like the one they had yesterday against the Penguins more often than not, then they will win more than their fair share of games. The trick for them is to find a way to bring that effort level on a consistent basis even against teams such as the Blue Jackets who aren't necessarily considered a marquee opponent even though they boast the reigning Vezina Trophy winner on their roster in goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Canucks, however, likely won't have to go up against Bobrovsky tonight unless the Blue Jackets change their plans after dropping a 4-1 decision last night to the Washington Capitals. Curtis McElhinney is scheduled to make his Blue Jackets debut tonight and will be tasked with trying to help them halt their four-game losing streak. Eddie Lack will likely get the call for Vancouver, who will be without forward Jordan Schroeder who left yesterday's loss in Pittsburgh with a lower-body injury. Jeremy Welsh was recalled from Utica (AHL) and could make his Vancouver debut tonight.
Puck drop at 3 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Overcome fatigue. Both the Canucks and Blue Jackets played yesterday but Vancouver does have a few hours of additional rest time. They'll want to put that advantage to good use by coming out with energy and taking the play to Columbus early on.
2. Give McElhinney a rude welcoming. If the Blue Jackets do go with their backup netminder tonight, the Canucks need to remind him just how tough a league the NHL is. The journeyman goalie has yet to play this season and only saw action in two games at the NHL level last season.
3. Make use of the power play. The man-advantage has been one of the bright spots for the Blue Jackets and that needs to continue tonight. Columbus has converted on 24 percent of their opportunities this season (6-for-25) and have only failed to connect in two of seven games played this season – one of those games being yesterday's loss in Washington.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
F Jordan Schroeder (lower body) and F Alex Burrows (foot) are on the injured reserve list.
For the Blue Jackets…
F Nick Foligno (personal) is questionable. F Matt Calvert (abdominal surgery) is on the injured reserve list. F Nathan Horton (left shoulder surgery) and F Cody Bass (broken thumb) are on the non-roster injured reserve list.
DID YOU KNOW?
Sergei Bobrovsky became just the third Blue Jacket in the team's 13-year history to win a major NHL award last season when he captured the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender. He joined 2004 Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy winner Rick Nash (shared with Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk and Calgary's Jarome Iginla) and 2009 Calder Memorial Trophy winner Steve Mason on that short list. Both Nash and Mason are no long with the Blue Jackets organization.
0 – Games played by Blue Jackets back-up goalie Curtis McElhinney this season.
2 – Wins for the Canucks over the Blue Jackets last season, finishing 2-0-1 in three games played.
4 – Game point streak for Henrik Sedin coming into today's game (1-4-5).
6 – Career NHL games played by Jeremy Welsh, who was recalled yesterday by the Canucks.
6 – Combined goals scored between the Canucks and Blue Jackets in their three-game season series last year.
7 – Consecutive regulation periods the Canucks have scored at least one goal in heading into today's game.
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