The Vancouver Canucks (34-30-11) will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they begin a five-game home stand tonight hosting the Anaheim Ducks (47-18-8) at Rogers Arena.
For the last little while the Canucks have known full well that they need to win pretty much every game they have upcoming and hope for some help from the out-of-town scoreboard in order to even have a shot at getting into the playoffs. When they only get their part of the job half-done as was the case on Thursday when they fell 3-2 in overtime to the Avalanche, it makes their task even more daunting. Still, all the Canucks can do now – to borrow from a tired cliché – is take it one game at a time and pray for the best. They'll try to collect two points from a Ducks team tonight that has had some recent struggles of their own.
While most expect the Ducks to be a Stanley Cup contender this spring, Anaheim appears to be stumbling their way to the finish line that is the end of the regular season. Anaheim has just four wins in their last 11 outings (4-4-3) with their most recent two victories coming against the bottom-feeding Panthers and Flames. They dropped a 4-3 overtime decision last night in Edmonton. Tonight marks the fourth of five meetings between the Canucks and Ducks this season, and the first of two times the Ducks will visit Rogers Arena between now and the end of the regular season. Anaheim has won all three previous meetings so far in the season series including pounding the Canucks 9-1 in their last head-to-head battle back on January 15. Vancouver, already without blue-liner Chris Tanev, will likely be minus another one of their top defenders tonight in Kevin Bieksa. Bieksa suffered a leg injury in Thursday's loss to the Avs and is doubtful against the Ducks. The Canucks re-called Frank Corrado from Utica (AHL) yesterday in anticipation of Bieksa not being available.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, THE TEAM 1040, or online at www.teamradio.ca.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. The Zack Attack continues. Could we be witnessing the breakout party for Zack Kassian? Only time will tell. All the Canucks care about right now is to have the power forward continue producing goals and points as he has done over the last three outings.
2. The crowd does their part. With this five-game home stand essentially being make-or-break for the Canucks, they'll need all the help they can get to stay in the playoff race. They could use a boost from the Rogers Arena crowd tonight especially against a Ducks team that has clearly been buoyed by their fans in the season series en route to winning the first three games all on their home ice.
3. Don't underestimate the Canucks. A loss like yesterday to the woeful Oilers should have the Ducks re-thinking the idea they can walk into any building and just take away two points even against teams below them in the standings. Considering the desperation mode Vancouver is in, Anaheim better be ready to compete from puck drop.
Tonight's game brought to you by Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Club, get a free workout at SNCLUBS.COM.
-11 – Goal-differential in the season series for the Canucks against the Ducks (5 vs. 16).
.000 – Win percentage for the Canucks this season without Kevin Bieksa in the lineup (0-5-0).
2 – Goals for Tom Sestito in the season series against the Ducks, leading all Vancouver players.
4 – Straight wins for the Ducks over the Canucks entering play tonight.
9 – Goals scored by the Ducks in their last meeting against the Canucks, the most goals Vancouver has allowed in one game this season.
48 – Wins for the Ducks this season, one shy of tying their franchise record.
IN THE INFIRMARY
For the Canucks…
D Kevin Bieksa (leg) is doubtful. F Henrik Sedin (lower body) and D Christopher Tanev (broken finger) are out. F Mike Santorelli (right shoulder surgery) and D Andrew Alberts (concussion) are on the injured reserve list.
For the Ducks…
D Cam Fowler (sprained MCL) is out. D Sheldon Souray (right wrist surgery) is on the injured reserve list.
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