Game 59: Canucks at Canadiens (2.6.14)
At some point the Canucks are going to win a game again in the 2013.14 NHL season. They only hope it will still mean something in the standings when they do. Despite a solid effort on Tuesday in Boston, the Canucks' freefall continued with a 3-1 loss to the Bruins which marked the sixth time in their last seven outings that the Canucks have come away from a game without any points earned. Miraculously, the Canucks still begin play today sitting in a playoff position but are barely hanging on with the Stars, Coyotes, Jets and Predators all breathing down their necks.
The Habs aren't exactly sitting pretty just yet in the Eastern Conference playoff picture but they are breathing a lot more comfortably than the Canucks are. They begin the day sitting in fourth place in the East and would love to continue to move up the standings by sweeping the Canucks in the season series with a victory tonight. Since their four-game losing streak from January 18 to 25, the Habs have collected points in four of their last five games (3-1-1) and are coming off a 2-0 shutout win over the Flames on Tuesday. Montreal handily defeated Vancouver 4-1 back on October 12 at Rogers Arena. This will be the first and only time this season that Raphael Diaz and Dale Weise will have the opportunity to suit up against their respective former clubs following Monday's trade that saw the two players swap teams. Roberto Luongo and Carey Price are expected to get the starts for their respective clubs between the pipes.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Stick to 5-on-5. Neither the Canucks or Habs are exactly goal-scoring machines this season, but the Canucks are a significantly better scoring team at 5-on-5 tallying 103 goals this season compared to 81 for the Habs. In their first meeting this season, the Habs scored three special teams goals – two on the PP and one shorthanded – en route to their 4-1 win.
Luongo struts his stuff. A head-to-head meeting shouldn't – and probably won't – determine the starter in Sochi. That being said, this is Luongo's final opportunity to go up against his soon-to-be Olympic teammate and if he can lead his team to a win against Price's Habs, it might just swing some support in his direction in his bid to be Canada's number one netminder.
Dale has his revenge. The Canucks obviously felt Weise was not playing his role the way he should have been leading to his departure from Vancouver. Weise probably feels differently and would love nothing more than to stick it to his old team tonight in his one and only chance this season to face them.
By the Numbers
Win for the Canucks in their last nine road games (1-7-1).
Goals per game average for the Habs this season, slightly lower than Vancouver's 2.41.
Consecutive regulation losses for the Canucks, their longest such streak since March 1999.
Combined goals allowed by the Habs in their last five games. They have not allowed more than two in a single game during the stretch.
Straight games without a power play goal allowed by Montreal. They are a perfect 22-for-22 on the kill in that stretch.
Canadiens named to Olympic team roster, including two for Canada (Price, Subban).