Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Avalanche (3.28.13)

Thursday, 28.03.2013 / 12:00 PM / Features
By Daniel Fung

Tonight’s game is presented by HSBC

Team Record: 18-9-6
Last Game: 1-0 SO/W vs Columbus (MAR.26.13)

Season Series: 2-0-0
Last Meeting: 3-2 W (MAR.24.13)
Team Record: 11-17-4
Last Game: 3-4 L at Calgary (MAR.27.13)

Season Series: 0-2-0
Last Meeting: 2-3 L (MAR.24.13)

Storylines

The Set-Up

The Vancouver Canucks (18-9-6) will try to extend their win streak to a season-high six games tonight when they close out their two-game home stand hosting the struggling Colorado Avalanche (11-17-4).

What You Need to Know
  • The Canucks will look to sweep their short two-game home stand tonight after picking up a 1-0 shootout victory against the Blue Jackets to open the stand two nights ago.
  • The Canucks managed to extend their win streak to five games on Tuesday despite being shut out for the first time this season. A win tonight would equal a season-high win streak for Vancouver at six games.
  • The Avalanche, who are wrapping up a short two-game road trip tonight, come into this contest riding a three-game losing streak and with just one win in their last seven outings (1-6-0). They're coming off a 4-3 loss last night to the Iginla-less Flames.
  • Tonight's clash is between the team currently in the basement of the Northwest Division (Colorado) versus the team that hopes to be in first place in the division by the end of the night (Vancouver). The Canucks need at least one point to take over sole possession of first place in the division tonight from the Wild. By the end of this night, the Wild will have two games in hand on Vancouver.
  • Tonight marks the third of four meetings between the Canucks and Avalanche this season. The Canucks are off to a 2-0 start in the season series after taking both previous meetings including netting a 3-2 win in their most recent clash this past Sunday a the Pepsi Center.
  • The Canucks are expected to have F Steven Pinizzoto available to them tonight after he sat out the last four games due to illness. If he dresses, he'll likely take the spot of either F Andrew Gordon or possibly D Keith Ballard, who has been playing as a forward recently.
  • Canucks G Cory Schneider will pick up his sixth straight start tonight which will equal a career-high for him. The last time he started six games in a row was from November 16 to 29, 2011.
  • The Canucks are looking to continue their run of dominance against the Avs. Counting their two wins over Colorado already this season, they have earned points in 19 straight games against the Avs (17-0-2) dating back to November 1, 2009.
  • The Canucks have won their last five head-to-head meetings against the Avs at Rogers Arena and have earned points in seven straight games (6-0-1) versus Colorado on home ice overall. The Avs have not won an outright game in Vancouver since a 4-1 victory back on April 5, 2009.
  • Colorado has been shutout in two straight trips to Vancouver and has not scored a goal at Rogers Arena in 149:40 of consecutive playing time.
Follow the Action

Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on 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 don't give the Avs any reason to believe. Given Colorado's long run of futility against Vancouver, they'll be looking for any reason they can find to give them some confidence in this game. It's imperative the Canucks don't give the Avalanche any reason to think they can walk out of here with two points and building an early lead would be a good starting point.
  • They get some offensive support. You aren't going to win many games when you don't score a goal like the Canucks somehow managed to do on Tuesday. Knowing they can probably expect a more offensive-oriented game against the Avs compared to what they saw from the Blue Jackets, the Canucks will need to find a way to put some pucks in the net tonight and preferably not just get goals from their second line (Raymond-Schroeder-Hansen) which seems to be the only unit lately that has been able to put up points on a consistent.
  • Keep getting power play production. The Avs are one of the few teams the Canucks have managed to consistently victimize on the man-advantage this season and that needs to continue tonight. Vancouver is a combined 2-for-8 on the power play in the season series. Colorado certainly seems ripe for the picking for an overall struggling Vancouver power play as they have given up a power play goal in three straight outings.


The Avalanche Win If...

  • They get on the board first. While it's no guarantee the Avs will come out on top even if they score the first goal, they would certainly put themselves in a much better position to be able to do that if they can draw first blood. The Avs have surrendered the opening goal in both games so far in the season series and has given up their first goal in their last eight straight outings. The Avs are 5-2-2 when they score first this season, but just 6-15-2 when they fall behind first.
  • Varlamov steals a game. The 24-year-old netminder has shown he is capable of turning in great performances but right now he seems to be in his one of the midst of one of his toughest stretches as an NHLer. His numbers over the last handful of outings have been particularly dreadful. He's allowed four-or-more goals in his five of his last six starts while giving up a combined 24 goals on just 177 shots (.864 save percentage) over those six outings. If he does get a chance to be back between the pipes tonight, he has to be the difference-maker and not in a negative way.
  • The defense drives the offence. Colorado has received fairly decent offensive performances from their top forwards this season but, as far as their back end is concerned, they could certainly use a lot more than what they have seen so far this season. Colorado blue-liners have only combined for two goals this season with no Avalanche defenseman having more than eight points. Colorado defensemen have yet to get on the scoresheet so far in the season series.

Ones to Watch

CHRIS HIGGINS

Playing with the Sedin twins is a surefire way to boost up personal stats - at least that has been the case for most players who have had that privilege in the past. Just ask the likes of Trent Klatt, Jason King, Anson Carter and, of course, Alex Burrows. So far, however, that hasn't quite been the case yet for Chris Higgins.

The 29-year-old has had the fortune of being able to skate on Vancouver's top line for the past two outings but that has not been able to prevent his point-less drought from extending to eight games where it currently sits. It hasn't helped that he has only managed two combined shots in the last two games not to mention just five combined shots over his eight-game funk.

Regardless of where Higgins finds himself in the lineup tonight, he'd love to put an end to that long point drought. He hasn't recorded a point since scoring a goal in Minnesota back on March 10. Higgins has yet to factor on the scoresheet in the season series against the Avalanche. He has four goals and seven points in 11 career games versus Colorado.

TYSON BARRIE

When Tyson Barrie was assigned to Lake Erie (AHL) earlier this month, it came as a surprise for many considered how strongly the 21-year-old had performed through the first couple of months of the season.

The Victoria-native had been averaging over 21 minutes of ice-time per game and was even one of the team's top point-producing defensemen albeit with just six (1-5-6) at the time of his demotion. Barrie won't spend too much time wondering about the circumstances of his demotion but he'll be looking to find a way to make sure he stays in the NHL on a permanent basis. In his first game back since being recalled last night, he notched an assist on a second period by goal by Jamie McGinn.

Barrie will be looking to record points in consecutive games tonight when he returns to his home province for the third time as an NHLer. He is still searching for his first career points against the Canucks having failed to get on the scoresheet in three previous career outings versus Vancouver.

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.