Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Wild (2.12.13)

Tuesday, 12.02.2013 / 12:00 PM / Features
By Daniel Fung
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Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Wild (2.12.13)

Tonight’s game is presented by HSBC

Team Record: 7-2-2
Last Game: 5-1 W vs Calgary (FEB.09.13)

Season Series: 1-0-0
Last Meeting: 4-1 W (FEB.07.13)
Team Record: 6-5-1
Last Game: 2-1 SO/W at Calgary (FEB.11.13)

Season Series: 0-1-0
Last Meeting: 1-4 L (FEB.07.13)

Storylines

The Set-Up

The Vancouver Canucks (7-2-2) will look to stretch their season-high win streak to six straight games tonight when they host the Minnesota Wild (6-5-1) at Rogers Arena.

What You Need to Know
  • The Canucks will play the second game of their four-game home stand tonight. They are looking to stretch their home ice win streak to four games and their overall win streak to six games.
  • Tonight marks the second of four meetings between the Canucks and Wild this season. In their first meeting five nights ago, the Canucks embarrassed the Wild cruising to an easy 4-1 win at the Xcel Energy Center.
  • Canucks F Manny Malhotra missed practice yesterday due to personal reasons and is questionable for tonight's contest. If he can't go, expect F Andrew Ebbett to take his roster spot. Ebbett, who has no points in four games played this season, has not seen game action since January 27 in San Jose.
  • The Wild have won back-to-back games for the third time this season and are looking to extend their win streak to a season-high three games tonight.
  • Minnesota is closing out their short two-game road trip tonight. They are coming off their first road win of the season – a 2-1 shootout victory last night in Calgary. They had started off the season winless in four (0-3-1) on the road before yesterday's win.
  • Canucks forwards Mason Raymond (1-3-4), Daniel Sedin (1-3-4) and Chris Higgins (2-1-3) each have three-game point streaks entering tonight's contest.
  • Canucks G Roberto Luongo will get a chance to extend his shutout streak of 195:23 against the Wild as he will get the start in tonight's contest. He has shutout the Wild in in each of his last three starts against them dating back to the 2010.11 season. Wild F Mikko Koivu was the last Minnesota player to score on Luongo. Koivu's goal came in the third period of a game on March 14, 2011.
  • With Wild G Niklas Backstrom getting the start last night in Calgary, Minnesota may opt to start back-up G Josh Harding tonight. Harding has a 2-4-0 career record versus Vancouver with a 2.56 GAA and .914 save percentage to go with one shutout. Backstrom is 11-13-0 in his career against the Canucks with a 2.71 GAA and .905 save percentage with one shutout.
  • The Canucks have a perfect 3-0 record this season in games following two days rest.
  • Tonight is the second time this season the Canucks will be facing a team that had to play the night before. The Wild are 2-0 this season playing on zero days rest.
Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on TSN. Listen live on The TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.

Those away from a TV or radio can follow @CanucksGame on Twitter for live in-game play-by-play.

Keys to the Game


The Canucks Win If...

  • Their even-strength play continues to excel. Vancouver has not allowed more than one even-strength tally per game in their last six outings. The Canucks have given up the fewest 5-on-5 goals out of all teams this season (10) and the fewest even-strength goals overall (11).
  • They keep spreading the offence around. Vancouver's top three lines have all chipped in multiple goals over the past three games, including one each in their 4-1 win over the Wild five days ago.
  • They continue winning the faceoff battle. The Canucks are a perfect 6-0 this season when they win 50 percent or more of the draws. During this current five game win streak, they've been 50-percent-or-better in the faceoff circle in all-but-one game and have won 167 of 297 total draws (56.2 percent).


The Wild Win If...

  • They use the revenge factor. The Wild were embarrassed on home ice five nights ago by a team they consider their biggest rival so they should be able to use that as motivation to return the favour tonight.
  • They get on the scoresheet early. The Wild are 2-0 in games when playing on zero days rest this season and a big reason for that is they have opened the scoring in both of those outings. In fact, they got on the board within the first 10 minutes of both of those games they went on to win.
  • They pretend it's a home game. Their poor road record this season aside, make-believing the game is at the Xcel Energy Center might give them some hope they can actually put a puck past Roberto Luongo – a netminder they haven't solved in close to two calendar years.

Ones to Watch

CHRIS HIGGINS

After a sluggish start to the season offensively, Chris Higgins is starting to look like he's regaining the form that earned him the team's unsung hero honours a year ago.

The 29-year-old had just two assists in his first eight games of the season but has since recorded points in three straight outings, including scoring in back-to-back games. He'll be looking to record goals in three consecutive games for the first time since January 2-5, 2011 when he notched goals in three games in a row as a member of the Florida Panthers.

Higgins' goal streak began five days ago when he scored the game-winner against the Wild. In 13 career games versus Minnesota, he has two goals and three points.

RYAN SUTER

The Wild offered a big money contract this off-season to former Nashville Predator Ryan Suter because they expected to get a blue-liner who was capable of being dominant at both ends of the ice. So far, however, they haven't exactly gotten what they had been expecting.

While his offensive numbers have been respectable – his seven points have him tied for the team-lead among defensemen – his team-worse minus-six rating has been a cause for concern. He's been better in that area lately, however, as he has had three even-or-better games in a row and is coming off his first plus-game of the season last night against the Flames.

The 28-year-old will try to continue his recent trend of solid play tonight, as well as extend his point streak to three games, when he faces the Canucks. He was held off the scoresheet when the teams met five nights ago. In 29 career games versus Vancouver, he's amassed one goal and seven points.

Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at dfung_sports@hotmail.com.