Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Blues (3.19.13)
Tonight’s game is presented by ESSO
|Team Record: 13-9-6
Last Game: 1-3 L vs Minnesota (MAR.18.13)
Season Series: 0-0-1
Last Meeting: 3-4 SO/L (FEB.17.13)
|Team Record: 16-10-2
Last Game: 2-1 OT/W vs Anaheim (MAR.16.13)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Last Meeting: 4-3 SO/W (FEB.17.13)
The struggling Vancouver Canucks (13-9-6) will try to close out their home stand on a high note when they host the St. Louis Blues (16-10-2) tonight at Rogers Arena.What You Need to Know
- The slumping Canucks come into tonight's game having lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since late February and with just three wins in their last 11 outings (3-6-2).
- The Canucks have also lost back-to-back regulation games on home ice for the first time this season and are in danger of posting their first three-game outright losing streak on home ice since January 9 to 15, 2009 when they dropped four consecutive regulation decisions to the Blues, Sharks, Devils and Coyotes. That streak was part of an overall nine-game home winless streak (0-6-3) that stretched from December 30, 2008 to January 31, 2009.
- The Blues have won three straight games coming into tonight's outing. A victory tonight would equal a season-high streak for them that they set back at the end of January.
- St. Louis is beginning a three-game Western Canada road swing tonight. After tonight, they won't resume their trip until this weekend when they visit Edmonton on Saturday and wrap up in Calgary on Sunday.
- Tonight marks the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Blues this season, and the second and final trip of the season for the Blues to Rogers Arena. In their first meeting this season back on February 17, the Blues battled back twice from one-goal deficits to earn a 4-3 shootout victory. Blues rookie G Jake Allen made 28 saves on 31 shots for the win.
- Speaking of Allen, he appears to be the new top dog for the Blues between the pipes. He has started the last three straight games and has won his last five straight starts. He's off to a scintillating start to his NHL career posting an 8-1-0 record so far with a 2.18 GAA and a .920 save percentage with one shutout. He will get the start tonight.
- After G Roberto Luongo got a somewhat surprise start in net last night against the Wild, G Cory Schneider will get the nod tonight given the disappointing result from last night. Schneider has only started two career games against the Blues. He has a 1-1-0 record against St. Louis with a 2.50 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
- The Canucks begin play today sitting seventh place in the Western Conference and could drop down to eighth by the end of the night with a regulation loss coupled with the Coyotes victory over the Kings. A win, on the other hand, could vault the Canucks to as high as fifth place in the West.
- Canucks F Henrik Sedin leads all players in the season series against the Blues with two points (1-1-2). No other player on either team has more than one point.
- If you think the Canucks' power play has been slumping lately, just check out their faceoff statistics. Vancouver has won more than 50 percent of draws in a game just once in their last 12 outings. They only managed to win 32 percent last night which is tied for their worst night in the faceoff circle this season (January 27 in San Jose).
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...
- The secondary scorers step up. After having a strong outing against Nashville five nights ago, Vancouver's bottom-three lines have gone completely MIA. No forwards, outside of the twins and Alex Burrows, have managed a single point in the last two straight games. That clearly needs to change tonight.
- They don't fall asleep in the third. To say the third period has been dreadful for the Canucks lately would be an understatement. So far on this current home stand, Vancouver has been out-scored by a combined 7-3 in the third periods. Those numbers might actually flatter the Canucks when you consider one of those third period goals they scored came on a penalty shot while another was an empty-netter.
- The power play has a flashback. The man-advantage has not been sharp on many occasions for the Canucks – especially lately – but they had a rare strong outing the last time they faced the Blues back on February 17 when they went 2-for-4 on the power play. After bumping their long power play slump last night, hopefully they can build on that tonight against a Blues penalty kill that has struggled somewhat on the road this season.
The Blues Win If...
- hey keep riding Allen's hot hand. The Blues' rookie netminder has been on fire lately guiding his team to three straight wins while allowing just three goals on 97 shots during that stretch for a .969 save percentage. Allen has not allowed more than three goals in any of his starts this season.
- They put some pressure on Schneider. Knowing the Canucks' netminders, be it Luongo or Schneider, haven't exactly been playing at the top of their game lately, the Blues will want to direct a few more pucks on net if only to test just how confident the netminder is. The Blues have been held to just 21 shots on net in two of their last three outings and in their first meeting of the season versus Vancouver had only 23 shots on target despite scoring three times.
- They get a boost from their returning players. The once-battered Blues are starting to get healthy again. After welcoming back the likes of Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko last week, they'll likely get another body back tonight in the form of Andy McDonald. Having their lineup get close to fully healthy is an encouraging sign for their club and it's something the Blues can use for confidence.
Ones to Watch
When Jason Garrison joined the Canucks as a free agent this past off-season, one of the expectations that the team had of him was he'd be a key contributor on the power play unit. That hasn't quite worked out as planned so far although the White Rock-native is hoping that last night was a sign of things to come.
Garrison not only managed to pick up his third point in his last five outings in the loss against the Wild but also played a major role in helping the Canucks put an end to their epic man-advantage slump by drawing a helper on Henrik Sedin's second period power play goal. The assist was Garrison's first power play point of the season. He had nine goals and 12 points with the man-advantage last season with the Panthers.
The 28-year-old defenseman will look to record points in back-to-back games for just the second time this season tonight facing a Blues team that he has never notched a point against in four career games played.
After struggling through a disastrous first full year with the Blues last season, Chris Stewart appears to have bounced back to being the dominant power forward that St. Louis thought they were getting when they first acquired him from Colorado back in February 2011.
Last season, the Toronto-native managed to put up just 15 goals and 30 points despite appearing in a career-high 79 games – his lowest single-season totals since his rookie campaign in 2008.09. He already has 14 goals and 28 points so far this season in just 28 games played which leads all Blues players.
Stewart will reach a major career milestone tonight as he will skate in his 300th career NHL game and thanks to his recent hot streak – he comes into tonight's game with three multi-point games in a row netting a combined five goals and seven points during that stretch (good enough to earn him First Star of the Week honours) – is on the verge of reaching a couple of other major career marks as well. He is four goals shy of reaching 100 career goals and two assists shy of reaching 100 career helpers. Stewart has one goal and six points in 20 career games versus Vancouver, including netting one assist earlier this season.
Game Notes on Canucks.com are written by Daniel Fung. Follow him on Twitter @daniel_fung or e-mail him at email@example.com.