Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Blues (4.16.13)
|Team Record: 24-12-6
Last Game: 5-2 W at Nashville (APR.15.13)
Season Series: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 3-2 W (MAR.19.13)
|Team Record: 23-16-2
Last Game: 0-2 L vs Chicago (APR.14.13)
Season Series: 1-1-0
Last Meeting: 2-3 L (MAR.19.13)
The Vancouver Canucks (24-12-6) will look to pick up their second win in 24 hours when they play the penultimate game of their five-game road trip tonight at the Scottrade Center facing the St. Louis Blues (23-16-2).What You Need to Know
- The Canucks are playing the fourth game of their five-game road trip tonight and are looking to pick up their second consecutive road victory after earning a 5-2 win last night in Nashville. Vancouver has not won back-to-back road games since winning four in a row away from home from March 12 to March 24.
- The Blues are playing the second game of a four-game home stand tonight. The home stand began on Sunday with a 2-0 loss to the Blackhawks.
- St. Louis has dropped back-to-back games since having their six-game win streak snapped. They are looking to avoid losing three games in a row for the first time since March 24 to 28 when they dropped consecutive decisions to the Flames, Oilers and Kings.
- The Canucks begin today sitting five points up on the Wild for top spot in the Northwest Division. Both teams have played 42 games to date. Minnesota is also in action today in Edmonton. Vancouver needs a combination of four wins and/or Minnesota losses to clinch the division.
- The Canucks start the day needing two wins to officially clinch a playoff berth.
- Tonight marks the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Blues, and the first and only time the Canucks will play in St. Louis this season. The season series is tied at one win each albeit the Canucks have an extra point from a shootout loss in their first meeting.
- While this game marks the final time these teams will face each other in the regular season, it also serves as a potential first-round playoff preview. If they do end up meeting in the post-season, history would be on the Canucks' side as they have won all three previous playoff series against the Blues most recently sweeping their 2009 Western Conference quarterfinal series.
- Canucks G Cory Schneider will be back between the pipes tonight after getting a rare night off yesterday. Schneider started the most recent meeting between the Canucks and Blues back on March 19 stopping 32 of 34 shots in a 3-2 Vancouver win.
- Russian-born Czech F Dmitrij Jaskin, who was the Blues' second round pick (41st) overall in 2011, is expected to make his NHL debut tonight. Jaskin began this season playing for the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats where he had 99 points (46-53-99) in 51 games played while adding another three points (1-2-3) in five playoff outings.
- Canucks F Ryan Kesler's two-goal game last night was his first multi-goal game in over two calendar years. His last multi-goal game prior to yesterday came way back on December 10, 2011 when he scored twice and added an assist in a 4-1 road win against the Ottawa Senators.
Tonight's game faces off at 5 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 take advantage of a desperate team. The Canucks are coming off back-to-back games against teams that are playing only for pride but the Blues have a lot more on the line compared to the Avs and the Preds and, due to their precarious hold on a playoff spot at the moment, they might be gripping their sticks a little tight and that could work in Vancouver's favour.
- Schneider bounces back. After a less-than-stellar outing in his last start – a 4-3 loss to the Avalanche on Saturday afternoon – Cory Schneider should be eager to rebound with a much better performance tonight. The four goals he gave up on Saturday snapped an 11-game streak where he had allowed three-or-fewer goals.
- They avoid any lengthy lulls. The Canucks, at times, have been prone to stretches where they've allowed the opposition to seemingly skate circles around them like the Predators did in the second period of last night's game. Vancouver won't want to sleepwalk through any stretch of this game knowing the Blues have the firepower to make them pay and they might not be able to rebound quite the same way as they did yesterday.
The Blues Win If...
- Elliott ends his home blues. The Blues' netminder is finally back in All-Star form but one thing he's still trying to do is get his game back on track at the Scottrade Center. He's coming off his best home showing of the season in his team's 2-0 loss to Chicago on Sunday but, overall, his numbers at home have been dreadful. He has a 1-4-1 record on home ice this season with a 4.31 GAA and .813 save percentage.
- They feed off the pressure that's on them. The Blues are far from being a lock to finish in the top-eight in the Conference and they might be starting to sweat a bit having lost back-to-back games and watching some of the teams below them starting to creep up. But instead of crumbling under the adversity, they can prove themselves to be a true playoff-ready team by using the adversity as a motivating factor and find a way to pull out a big win tonight to increase their chances of finishing in the post-season picture.
- They get some goals. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock might love the low-scoring affairs his team has been engaged in but, at some point, the Blues are going to need to score some goals if they want to get back in the win column. St. Louis has only scored five combined goals over their last five outings. Perhaps the injection of rookie Dmitrij Jaskin, who is expected to make his NHL debut tonight, will spark their anemic offence.
Ones to Watch
It seems Jason Garrison offensive game is starting to round into form and the timing couldn't be better for the Canucks with the playoffs just two weeks away.
In his last half-dozen outings, Garrison has amassed two goals and six points. That's after beginning his Canuck career with just eight points in his first 36 games. He comes into tonight's contest having scored in back-to-back games for the first time as a Canuck and the first time since he recorded goals in a career-high three straight games from October 27 to 31, 2011 as a member of the Florida Panthers.
Garrison will be looking to continue his recent hot streak tonight against a Blues team he has yet to record a point against so far in the season series. In fact, Garrison is still searching for his first career points versus St. Louis after having gone point-less in his first five career outings against them.
After struggling through the first two months of the season and looking nothing like the All-Star he was a season ago, Brian Elliott seems to have finally found his game after returning from a recent conditioning stint in the AHL.
In his last six outings, Elliott has posted a 5-1-0 record while only surrendering six goals on 148 shots faced (.959 save percentage). Part of his recent hot streak included posting three consecutive road shutouts from April 7 – 11 to become the first Blues netminder to win three straight road games by shutout. He also tied his own team by posting three consecutive shutouts as well.
Elliott will be looking to bounce back from his first defeat since his recall from Peoria tonight when he faces the Canucks for the first time this season. He hasn't loss consecutive games since a six-game winless skid (0-5-1) from February 1 to March 3. Last year's co-winner of the William M. Jennings Trophy has a 3-4-1 career record against the Canucks with a 2.15 GAA and a .925 save percentage.
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.