Game 40: Canucks at Flames (12.29.13)
The Canucks should have entered the holiday break on a high after coming off back-to-back wins, including a 2-1 triumph over the Jets last Sunday, and with a 9-1-1 record over their past 11 outings but instead they had the uncertainty over netminder Roberto Luongo's status hanging over them. The uncertainty was put to rest earlier this week, albeit not the way the Canucks would have liked, when it was announced that Eddie Lack would be starting tonight’s tilt in place of the injured Luongo and with AHL call-up Joacim Eriksson serving as his back-up. Lack, including his relief appearance last Sunday versus Winnipeg, has won four straight games and will be looking to make it five in a row when he faces the Flames for the second time in his young career.
The Flames have other plans in mind as they are looking to rebound after being dropping a particularly embarrassing decision to the provincial rival, the Oilers, on Friday by a 2-0 score. Calgary has just one win in their last six outings. The Canucks scored a 5-4 overtime win over the Flames back on October 6 in what was Lack’s NHL debut. The Flames may be without forward Mikael Backlund who missed yesterday's practice and is will be a game-time decision. Reto Berra is expected to start between the pipes for Calgary.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Get the legs going again. The Canucks will certainly be the rustier team having not playing since last Sunday while the Flames' holiday break ended two nights ago. It'll be important for them to be ready right from the opening puck drop and not let the Flames have their way with them especially early on.
Don't expect a cakewalk. The Flames may be mired near the bottom of the NHL standings but they've pulled off a few surprise wins this season including one just before Christmas over the Blues. They also nearly beat the Canucks in the first head-to-head meeting this season. Vancouver will have to work for their two points tonight.
Get in Lack's head. The Canucks' backup netminder has been unflappable so far in his young NHL career but tonight's the first night he'll have to work without a safety net. He might have a few extra butterflies because of that and the Flames have to find a way to take advantage.
By the Numbers
Points needed by Jason Garrison to reach 100 career points.
Straight wins for the Canucks at the Scotiabank Saddledome dating back to last season.
Straight games the Canucks have been held to fewer than 30 shots, their longest such streak of the season.
Times, in 20 road games, the Canucks have managed to score more than three goals.
Times this season the Flames have managed to score four-or-more goals in a game, including against the Canucks back on Oct. 6.
Percent of Flames' wins this season that have come in one-goal games (12 of 14).