Game 63: Canucks vs. Senators (3.2.14)
There will be plenty of pomp and circumstance accompanied with today's game as is typically the case whenever the NHL holds an outdoor contest but soaking up the atmosphere will take a backseat as far as the Canucks are concerned. As cliché as it may sound, the Canucks know their focus today has to be on coming away with a critical two points to stay in the playoff race. They had an opportunity to pull closer to a playoff position on Friday but only got half the job done by falling 2-1 in a shootout to the Wild. While there's not exactly a natural rivalry between the Canucks and Sens, Vancouver should expect a tough battle if only for the fact that Ottawa is in a very similar situation as the Canucks find themselves in.
The Senators, who some considered a legitimate Cup contender at the start of the season, currently sit outside the playoff picture in the East and are coming off consecutive blowout losses, most recently dropping a 6-1 decision to Detroit in their first game back from the Olympic break. This is the first time the Canucks and the Senators have played in a stadium game in their respective histories. The Canucks beat the Sens 5-2 in their first head-to-head meeting this season on November 28 in Ottawa. The Canucks are not expected to officially confirm their starting netminder until the morning of game day but it has been widely speculated that Eddie Lack will get the call once again. Lack has started back-to-back games coming out of the Olympic break surrendering just one regulation goal on 43 combined shots faced over those two outings.
Puck drop at 1 pm PT - Live on CBC, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Don't make the other goalie look good. The Sens have given up a lot of goals lately and the Canucks don't want to be the team that helps Ottawa's defence find their groove. Goal-scoring clearly hasn't been the Canucks' strength this season but it might be worthwhile to adopt an offence-first mentality in this game.
Don't get caught up. Sure this game is meant to be a spectacle and meant to be unique and fun, but there's still a very critical two points on the line for both teams. Once the puck drops, both teams have to treat it like a regular game and not get away from their game plan.
Stay out of the box. The penalty kill, especially on the road, has been a big Achilles' heel for the Sens this season. Even against a dreadful Canucks' power play, they probably won't want to play with fire. Ottawa has given up PPGs in back-to-back games and have allowed nine in their last 13 games overall.
By the Numbers
Senators players with previous NHL outdoor experience.
Canuck player with previous NHL outdoor experience: Yannick Weber (2011 Heritage Classic).
Outdoor game for John Tortorella. He coached the Rangers to a win over the Flyers at the 2012 Winter Classic.
Straight wins for the Canucks over the Senators dating back to March 13, 2010.
Career NHL games played for Jason Garrison, including today.
Career NHL games played for Alex Burrows, including today.