Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Blue Jackets (3.12.13)
|Team Record: 11-7-6
Last Game: 2-4 L at Minnesota (MAR.10.13)
Season Series: 0-0-1
Last Meeting: 1-2 OT/L (MAR.07.13)
|Team Record: 10-12-4
Last Game: 3-2 SO/W at Detroit (MAR.10.13)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Last Meeting: 2-1 OT/W (MAR.07.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (11-7-6) will try to pick up their first win on their three-game road trip that concludes tonight at the Nationwide Arena when they battle the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets (10-12-4).What You Need to Know
- The Canucks wrap up their three-game road trip tonight hoping to snap out of their four-game overall winless skid (0-2-2) and their four-game road winless streak (0-3-1). Vancouver has just one win in their last seven outings (1-4-2).
- The last time the Canucks had a winless streak of five-or-more games was from January 9 to 31, 2009 when they went eight straight games (0-5-3) without a victory (0-5-3). That slump was infamously snapped with a 4-3 win over Carolina with F Alex Burrows netting the game-winner shorthanded with just 1:22 left in regulation to break a 3-3 tie.
- Canucks fans hoping to see the return of D Kevin Bieksa tonight will likely be left disappointed. As per @sportsnetmurph, Bieksa is not expected to dress tonight. The Canucks are 0-4-2 this season with Bieksa out of the lineup.
- Canucks F Andrew Ebbett will make his return to the lineup tonight after being recalled from Chicago (AHL) on Monday. He will take the spot of F Jordan Schroeder who was re-assigned to the Wolves.
- The Blue Jackets enter tonight's game on a roll having won five straight games while earning points in seven consecutive outings (5-0-2). The last time Columbus won five straight games before this current streak was from November 17 to 24, 2010.
- If the Blue Jackets manage to win tonight, they would equal their franchise record for longest win streak at six games. The record was set from March 24 to April 3, 2006.
- Tonight marks the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Blue Jackets, and the second meeting in six days between the clubs. Vancouver began their current three-game road trip with a 2-1 shootout loss in Columbus back on March 7. F Henrik Sedin scored Vancouver's lone goal while G Cory Schneider 26 saves on 27 shots in the loss.
- Despite their setback six days ago, the Canucks have still earned points in seven straight visits (5-0-2) to the Nationwide Arena and are undefeated in regulation in their last 12 head-to-head meetings versus Columbus (10-0-2).
- Canucks G Roberto Luongo will get back between the pipes tonight for the first time since March 3. He's looking to snap a personal two-game losing skid. He has a career record of 9-5-5 against Columbus with a 2.18 GAA and .918 save percentage to go with four shutouts.
- Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky is the no-brainer choice as the starter tonight considering his recent play. He's the reigning NHL Player of the Week after going 4-0-0 last week with a 0.77 GAA and a .972 save percentage. He also earned his first career shutout in a 3-0 win over Detroit on March 9.
Tonight's game faces off at 4 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 play like they want to win. If the Canucks really want to snap out of their current funk, they'll need to take charge of this game and come out ready to play early unlike on Sunday when they fell behind 24 seconds into the contest and spotted Minnesota a 3-0 lead before trying to play catch-up again. Getting a lead would be a good way to start. They haven't held a lead since early in the second period of their eventual loss to Calgary nine days ago.
- They get Bobrovsky off his game. The struggling Canucks have the unenviable task of facing the NHL's hottest goaltender and the reigning NHL First Star of the Week so it's clear that finding a way to make him uncomfortable in his crease will be a priority. Making his life difficult by crashing his net and not allowing him to see shots would be a good way to start but they'll also need to find a way to get into prime scoring positions instead of just wasting long shots from the perimeter.
- They rally behind Luongo. Schneider has not been the sole reason for Vancouver's recent woes but, with that said, a fresh look in net might just galvanize the team and get them headed in the right direction. Luongo, for his part, is coming off consecutive losses but he'll be dying to snap that streak tonight in what will be his first game action in over a week.
The Blue Jackets Win If...
- They play with confidence. If there's one advantage the Blue Jackets will certainly have over the Canucks, it's the feeling of being confident they can come out and beat anyone. Columbus' current five-game win streak includes not only a win over Vancouver, but several other top teams in the Western Conference including two victories over Detroit.
- Their PK continues to stay red hot. Detroit proved on Sunday that Columbus' penalty kill was indeed penetrable as they managed to snap the Blue Jackets' streak of nine straight games without a power play goal surrendered. That being said, Columbus has still killed off an impressive 26-of-27 opposition PP's over their last 10 outings (96.3 percent).
- They maintain their discipline. Part of the reason the Columbus PK has been so successful is because they haven't had to deploy it all too often lately, at least until in Detroit on Sunday when they were shorthanded six times. Prior to that, they went eight straight games that saw them shorthanded no more than three times in each contest.
Ones to Watch
The Canucks aren't expecting the recently re-called Andrew Ebbett to be the team's savior but they are hoping his return will provide at least a bit of a spark to get them out of their current funk.
The 30-year-old forward, who has bounced between Vancouver and Chicago (AHL) this season, was summoned from the farm on Monday and is expected to draw into the lineup tonight playing alongside Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. Ebbett has been lighting it up lately at the AHL level. He recently had a 10-game point streak from December 30 to March 9 that saw him pick up 16 points during that stretch. He departed the Wolves as their current second-leading point producer with 32 points (11-21-32).
Ebbett, whose last NHL appearance came exactly one month ago tonight, is still searching for his first points in the NHL this season. Tonight will be just his seventh career game against the Blue Jackets. He has one assist in his previous six career meetings versus Columbus.
Matt Calvert has yet to develop a reputation as being a consistent point producer at the NHL level but, at least over the last several outings, he's starting to gain a reputation for putting up timely points.
Calvert has two points in his last three outings which include scoring the overtime winner against the Canucks last Thursday and drawing an assist on the game-winner against the Red Wings on Saturday. He saw his point streak snapped on Sunday in Columbus' rematch against Detroit but did score the game-deciding goal in the shootout to help his club record their fifth consecutive win.
Calvert will look to keep his recent hot hand going in tonight's rematch against the Canucks. His OT winner against Vancouver six nights ago was his first career goal and point versus Vancouver in four career outings.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.