Game 61: Canucks vs. Blues (2.26.14)
The Olympic break couldn't have happened at a better time for the Canucks than it did if only for the fact it let them take their minds off their dreadful pre-Olympic losing streak. But the Canucks will now have to get back to the harsh reality of their situation which now has them going facing an uphill battle just to stay in the playoff picture. Vancouver's seven-game swoon has left them sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference to begin play today and one point out of a playoff position albeit having played two more games than the Stars and the Coyotes - the two teams currently tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Blues, on the other hand, are a team that probably would have preferred not having the Olympics cut into their schedule. They entered the break with seven victories in their last 10 outings, including consecutive home victories over the Bruins and Jets to close out the pre-Olympic schedule. Despite the Canucks' struggles, they're probably not the ideal opponent for the Blues' first game back from the break. Vancouver has had St. Louis' number this season winning both previous meetings, including netting a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena back on January 10. The Canucks entered the Olympic break as a banged-up bunch and, unfortunately, they emerge from it in much the same way. Ryan Kesler is doubtful with a hand injury sustained during the Games while Henrik Sedin (ribs/personal) and Kevin Bieksa (bruised foot) are also question marks. Christopher Tanev (broken thumb) remains out.
Puck drop at 7:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Start fresh. The good part of the Olympic break is that it should let the Canucks collect themselves and come back with a clean slate. They have to approach tonight's game as if it's a brand new season and not get too bogged down worrying about the playoff push or their lengthy losing streak.
Lack perfects the Blues. Eddie certainly hasn't been lacking in his performances against the Blues this season winning both of his starts while stopping a combined 52 of 55 shots. A similar outing tonight should give the Canucks a good chance to snap their losing streak.
USA's top guns stay hot. Though the Americans didn't end the Olympics quite the way they had hoped, a couple of Blues' forwards – namely T.J. Oshie and David Backes – enjoyed strong tournaments combining for four goals and eight points in their six games played. They'd love to pick up where they left off in Sochi.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks without captain Henrik Sedin in the lineup (2-6-0).
Point needed for Alex Burrows to reach 300 career NHL points.
Blues players who earned Olympic medals in Sochi: Bouwmeester (CAN), Pietrangelo (CAN), Berglund (SWE) & Steen (SWE).
Canucks players who earned Olympic medals in Sochi: Luongo (CAN), Hamhuis (CAN), D. Sedin (SWE) and Edler (SWE).
Points in 6 games for Daniel Sedin during the Sochi Games (1-4-5). He has no points in his last 9 NHL games.
Game regulation losing streak for the Canucks, two regulation losses shy of tying a club record.