Tale of the Tape: Canucks vs. Flames (4.6.13)
Tonight’s game presented by the River Rock Casino Resort, Western Canada's four diamond destination for excitement... Now you're living!
|Team Record: 20-11-6
Last Game: 4-0 W vs Edmonton (APR.04.13)
Season Series: 2-1-0
Last Meeting: 2-4 L (MAR.03.13)
|Team Record: 13-19-4
Last Game: 1-2 L at San Jose (APR.05.13)
Season Series: 1-1-1
Last Meeting: 4-2 W (MAR.03.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (20-11-6) will try to extend their lead atop the Northwest Division tonight when they host the Calgary Flames (13-19-4) in a Hockey Night in Canada clash.What You Need to Know
- The Canucks are playing the second game of their three-game home stand tonight. They began the home stand with a convincing 4-0 win over the Oilers on Thursday night – a victory that snapped a two-game losing streak. The Canucks bring a four-game home ice win streak into tonight's contest.
- The Flames are playing the second of a three-game road trip tonight. Their trip wraps up on Monday night in Denver. Since starting the season with a 3-1-1 record away from home, the Flames have gone winless in their last 12 consecutive road outings (0-11-1). Their last road win came way back on February 17 in Dallas.
- The Flames come into tonight's game as losers of four straight and eight of their last 10 overall (2-8-0). They dropped a 2-1 decision in their road trip opener last night in San Jose in heartbreaking fashion as Sharks forward Joe Pavelski scored the go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner with just 2:06 left in regulation.
- The Canucks are hoping to have both F Mason Raymond and F Dale Weise back in the lineup tonight. The fact they assigned F Nicklas Jensen back to Chicago (AHL) yesterday seems to indicate that one of, if not both, will be ready to go tonight.
- Canucks G Cory Schneider will get his 10th consecutive start tonight. Schneider is a perfect 2-0 against the Flames this season recording a 1.44 GAA and a .957 save percentage.
- The Canucks have a chance to pad their lead atop the Northwest Division standings. They begin play today with 46 points, two more Minnesota with the same number of games played. The Wild are idle today and won't play again until Sunday when they visit Columbus.
- Tonight marks the fourth of five meetings between the Canucks and Flames, and the first of two meetings they will have in the next five days. They'll conclude their season series next Wednesday back in Calgary.
- The Canucks lead the season series with two wins to just one for the Flames. Vancouver won the first two games of the season series but dropped a 4-2 decision in their most recent clash back on March 3 in Calgary. Ex-Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored the game-winner that night with just over seven minutes left in regulation.
- Speaking of Iginla, tonight marks the first time the Canucks will face the Flames since they dealt the former face of their franchise to Pittsburgh. Also part of the Flames' recent exodus is D Jay Bouwmeester, whom they dealt to the Blues two days prior to the trade deadline. Calgary has yet to win in the post-Iginla era losing all four games since the trade of their former captain.
- Head coach Alain Vigneault will be appearing in his 530th game behind the Canucks' bench tonight which will move him into sole possession of first place on the all-time list surpassing Marc Crawford.
Tonight's game faces off at 7 pm PT and can be seen on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. 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 take advantage of a team with low confidence. The Flames are reeling having lost four straight games and are still seemingly shell-shocked from the departures of their team captain Jarome Iginla and top defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The Canucks will want to make sure they don't give the Flames any reason to believe they have a chance to snap their losing streak tonight.
- They throw plenty of pucks on net. The Flames' game last night notwithstanding, Calgary's netminding hasn't exactly been strong lately. During the Flames' current four-game losing streak, they've surrendered a whopping 20 combined goals. If the Canucks can get plenty of shots through tonight, there's a good chance a good number of them end up behind whoever's tending Calgary's net be it Kiprusoff or MacDonald.
- The returning players provide a spark. The Canucks hope to get a boost from a couple of players making their respective returns to Vancouver's lineup in Mason Raymond and Dale Weise. They'll especially hope Raymond's return will bring a boost to the offence as the 27-year-old had been on a bit of a hot streak in the few games just prior to having to sit out due to a shoulder injury.
The Flames Win If...
- Their goaltender stands on his head. The Flames very nearly halted their losing streak last night in San Jose and a big reason for that was they got a vintage performance from Miikka Kiprusoff who made 39 saves in the loss. If Kipper gets a chance to start again tonight, he'll have to come up with a similar effort. If it's Joey MacDonald between the pipes, then he'll have to find a way to be just as stellar as Kiprusoff was last night.
- They draw some penalties. The Flames actually have one of the better power plays in the league this season but they haven't gotten many opportunities to utilize it lately. They've only had four power play opportunities combined over their last three games. They can put themselves in a much better position to succeed tonight if they work to draw penalties and give their power play unit an opportunity to be a difference maker. Their power play is 2-for-11 in the season series.
- They are motivated to play spoiler against the Canucks. The only thing the Flames are realistically fighting for now is to avoid finishing in dead last in the entire NHL standings. However, even though they don't have a hope of catching the Canucks in the standings or even cracking the top-eight in the Conference for that matter, they should still be fired up to have an opportunity to deal a blow to the Canucks' drive towards a divisional title.
Ones to Watch
If the Canucks are going to have any success in the playoffs this year, they'll undoubtedly need a player like Zack Kassian to be a key contributor. With that said, all Canucks fans are hoping that Kassian's performance on Thursday night was a sign of things to come.
While Kassian's late third period goal versus Edmonton was largely inconsequential as far as that specific game was concerned, it was a significant tally for the 22-year-old winger personally as it snapped a 20-game goal drought he had at the NHL level. It also snapped an 11-game point drought for him as well. The goal wasn't the only impressive part of Kassian's game on Thursday as he had a handful of other scoring opportunities and also finished the game with five hits.
The Canucks and their fans would love to see Kassian continue to deliver that prototypical power forward performance game in and game out from now through the end of the season including tonight when they host the Flames. Kassian scored a goal in the first game of the season between the Canucks and Flames but has not found the scoresheet in the last two head-to-head meetings.
There have been little positives to speak of for the Flames in a season that appears to be headed towards yet another disappointing playoff-less finish but one of few bright spots for them has been the play of Matt Stajan.
The 29-year-old winger, who had a career-high 57 points just three years ago, has seen his point totals dwindle in each of the past two seasons. Last year, he had a career-low 18 points in 61 games played. He's been enjoying a bit of a renaissance season this year, however, as he has already surpassed his entire point totals from last year with 21 points. His improved play had even earned the privilege of skating on the first line alongside Tanguay and Iginla prior to the latter's recent departure from Calgary.
Stajan will be looking to add to the two assists he has so far in the season series after three games played. In 24 career games versus Vancouver, he has three goals and 14 points.
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.