For the first time since their infamous line brawl back in mid-January, the Canucks (28-27-10) and Flames (25-31-7) will go head-to-head tonight at Rogers Arena.
It's a good thing there is some recent bad blood between the two teams in tonight's contest because, otherwise, it'd be tough to come up with meaningful storylines for a game between teams that look like they will most likely finish outside the playoff picture. The Canucks continued to watch their playoff aspirations slip further away on Thursday with a 6-1 loss to the Stars but, as bad as the Canucks have been lately, the Flames have been just as dreadful overall this season. They enter tonight's game sitting nine points behind the Canucks and in second-to-last place in the Western Conference.
Calgary, however, has been on a roll lately having won two in a row and three of their last four games. They notched a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Islanders last night and will be looking to try and pick up their first victory in the season series against the Canucks having lost all three previous games. The Canucks will be without Zack Kassian tonight as the forward was suspended three games for his hit on Dallas' Brenden Dillon on Thursday. Nicklas Jensen, who was summoned from Utica (AHL) yesterday, will likely take his spot in the lineup. The Canucks will likely wait until the morning of game day to announce their starting netminder. The Flames are expected to give rookie Joni Ortio his third consecutive start.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Get the bad blood boiling. This is not to suggest the Canucks should have a repeat of January 18, but right now Vancouver is in desperate need of being able to put some emotion in their game. If this game features some rough stuff, it might bring their level of play up.
2. The defence bounces back. As bad as the Canucks have been of late, their defensive play hasn't been as dreadful in their recent outings quite like it was on Thursday when they were giving up odd-man rushes left and right and leaving the slot wide open. That part of their game needs to get back to where it was before.
3. Take advantage of a team without confidence. Compared to the Canucks, the Flames are red hot lately. Even though they've had trouble holding on to leads in the season series, it's a good bet that if they can get up by a few goals tonight they'll be well on their way to a win.
Tonight's game is brought to you by new Budweiser Crown – a golden, amber lager crafted with fire roasted caramel malt for a rich flavor and distinctively smooth finish. Why not try it tonight. Available in the concourse area.
.200 – Win percentage for the Canucks since their fight night against the Flames on January 18 (3-11-1).
2 – Trades made by the Flames at the on deadline day (dealt away G Reto Berra and F Lee Stempniak).
12 – Straight games the Canucks have been held to three-or-fewer goals.
204 – Combined penalty minutes for the Canucks and Flames in their last meeting on January 18.
2000 – The last year both the Canucks and Flames missed the playoffs.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
F Brad Richardson (undisclosed) and D Ryan Stanton (undisclosed) are doubtful. F Daniel Sedin (strained left hamstring), F Mike Santorelli (shoulder surgery) and D Andrew Alberts (head) are on the injured reserve list. F Zack Kassian is serving an NHL suspension.
For the Flames…
F Jiri Hudler (upper body) and D Dennis Wideman (upper body) are questionable. F Kevin Westgarth (concussion) and F David Jones (shoulder) are out. F Curtis Glencross (high ankle sprain) and G Karri Ramo (sprained right MCL) are on the injured reserve list.
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