Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Wild (3.10.13)

Thursday, 07.03.2013 / 12:00 PM / Features
By Daniel Fung
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Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Wild (3.10.13)
Team Record: 11-6-6
Last Game: 1-2 OT/L at Columbus (MAR.07.13)

Season Series: 2-0-0
Last Meeting: 2-1 W (FEB.12.13)
Team Record: 12-9-2
Last Game: 2-1 SO/W at Nashville (MAR.09.13)

Season Series: 0-2-0
Last Meeting: 1-2 L (FEB.12.13)

Storylines

The Set-Up

Soon-to-be-ex division rivals, the Vancouver Canucks (11-6-6) and Minnesota Wild (12-9-2), will clash tonight for the third time this season when they go head-to-head at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

What You Need to Know
  • The slumping Canucks come into to tonight's contest winless in three straight games (0-1-2) and as losers of five of their last six contests (1-3-2). They're also winless in their last three games on the road (0-2-1).
  • You'd have to go back more than two years to find the last time the Canucks went winless in four straight games. The last time they did so was from January 16 to 22, 2011 when they dropped consecutive decisions against the Wild, Avalanche, Sharks and Flames, respectively.
  • The Wild are coming off a 2-1 shootout win last night in Nashville and have won two of their last three games. They also bring a three-game home ice win streak into tonight's contest and have earned points in five straight games (4-0-1) at the Xcel Energy Center overall.
  • The Wild come into tonight's contest trailing the Canucks by two points in the standings but could take over top spot in the Northwest Division with a regulation win tonight as they would have the tiebreaker in wins.
  • Tonight marks the third of four meetings between the Canucks and Wild this season. Vancouver has already ensured nothing less than a split after winning the first two head-to-head meetings, including recording a 4-1 victory at the Xcel Energy Center back on February 7.
  • In the teams' most recent clash on February 12 at Rogers Arena, G Roberto Luongo made 25 saves on 26 shots while Jannik Hansen's second period marker stood up as the game winner in a 2-1 Vancouver victory. Wild G Darcy Kuemper, making his NHL debut that night, made 28 saves in the loss.
  • Canucks D Keith Ballard, who sat out Thursday's loss in Columbus with a charley horse, is a possibility to return tonight but fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa will sit out again. F Tom Sestito, who injured his hip during an optional practice on Friday, is expected to play.
  • Canucks F Mason Raymond leads all players in the season series with three points (1-2-3). Wild F Matt Cullen leads his team in points against the Canucks this season with two (0-2-2).
  • Canucks G Cory Schneider will try to snap a personal two-game winless skid tonight. He already owns a win over Minnesota this season as he was the starter the last time the Canucks were at the Xcel Energy Center back on February 7. He made 22 saves on 23 shots that night in a 4-1 win.
  • Wild G Matt Hackett, who was called up from Houston (AHL) on Friday, is expected to start tonight. The 23-year-old appeared in 12 games for Minnesota last season posting a 3-6-0 record while starting his NHL career with an NHL-record shutout streak of 102:48. He has yet to face the Canucks in his career.
Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 5 pm PT and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. 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...

  • They get a lead, preferably a big one. You don't win many games by constantly playing catch-up like the Canucks for most of their last three outings. Vancouver has gone 162:48 of consecutive playing time without a lead. The last time they had a multi-goal lead was eight days ago against the Kings.
  • They get their power play going...seriously. It's now eight games and counting without a power play marker for the Canucks who have gone 0-for-16 during that stretch. Power plays have been a major contributor to Vancouver's success in the season series against the Wild. They are 2-for-8 with the man-advantage versus Minnesota.
  • They step up in the third period. In each of their last three games Vancouver has been involved in a tie game in the third period. Had they managed to seize the opportunity and come up with a go-ahead goal in those outings we could be talking about a Canucks win streak. If they are involved in another close game tonight, they need to find a way to dig deep in the final stanza.


The Wild Win If...

  • They keep things boring. Knowing the Canucks are just dying for one of those breakout games on offence, the Wild will want to limit chances as much as possible by clogging up the neutral zone and making Vancouver fight for every inch of ice they're going to get.
  • They generate some offence playing 5-on-5. As much as the Wild won't want to push things on offence, they still need to show they're a threat playing 5-on-5. Minnesota has yet to score an even-strength goal in the season series which doesn't bode well for them in this game considering 5-on-5 play is just about the only thing the Canucks have going for them in the last little while.
  • They get some early success. The Wild might be able to get a not-so-confident Canucks team to start doubting themselves if they can get off to a quick start which includes getting on the scoreboard first – something they haven't done yet in the season series. This season, Minnesota is 7-3-0 when scoring first but just 5-6-2 when they give up the first goal.

Ones to Watch

ALEXANDER EDLER

Over the last couple of games the Canucks have had a love-hate relationship with defenseman Alex Edler. They'll love the fact he's recorded 14 combined shots over his last two outings, but they'll downright hate the fact he's been on the ice for all four of the opposition's goals that they've given up over those two games.

For the Canucks to snap out of their current slump, they'll need to see the Edler who more resembles a Norris Trophy candidate as opposed to the one who resembles a mistake-prone rookie. One way he can start resembling the former would be to snap his lengthy seven-game point drought. He has not notched a point in over two weeks of play since drawing an assist on a first-period Alex Burrows goal on Dallas back on February 21.

Edler has one assist in two games played so far in the season series against the Wild. In 33 career games versus Minnesota, he has amassed four goals and 18 points.

MATT CULLEN

The milestone watch continues tonight for Matt Cullen with the veteran of 15 NHL seasons is closing in on 200 career NHL goals. He comes into tonight's contest just two tallies shy of reaching that mark.

When Cullen - whose career has seen him lace up for the Ducks, Panthers, Hurricanes, Rangers and Senators in addition to the Wild – finally nets the milestone goal, he'll become the 37th American-born NHL player to tally 200 career goals joining one of his newest teammates, Zach Parise. He would also become the tenth Minnesotan to reach that mark joining the the aforementioned Parise as well as the likes of Dave Christian, Phil Housley, Neil Broten, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Blake.

Cullen has had a hot stick the last two-and-a-half weeks netting seven combined points (2-5-7) over his last eight outings. He has two assists in two games so far in the season series against the Canucks. In 40 career games versus Vancouver, he has notched four goals and 15 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.