Game 65: Canucks at Stars (3.6.14)
Making the playoffs might seem like a long shot at this point with the Canucks continuing to slide down the Western Conference standings but, based on yesterday's lack of activity at the trade deadline, it would appear the Canucks aren't quite ready to go into full re-tool mode just yet. If the Canucks, which still includes forward Ryan Kesler, want to make the playoffs a reality, picking up a victory tonight against the Stars is an absolute must. Vancouver begins play today trailing eighth-place Dallas by two points. The Stars, however, hold two games in hand on the Canucks.
Dallas, who was also mostly quiet yesterday, has gone 2-2-0 coming out of the Olympic break including dropping a 4-2 decision to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Prior to the Olympic break, however, the Stars were on quite a roll earning points in eight of nine games (6-1-2). Dallas has not dropped consecutive regulation games since a six-game regulation losing streak from January 2 to 12. This is the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Stars this season. Dallas has won the first two meetings while out-scoring Vancouver by a combined 6-2. The Canucks, who are already without Daniel Sedin, will likely also be missing Brad Richardson tonight. Richardson suffered an undisclosed injury in the first period of Tuesday's loss to the Coyotes.
Puck drop at 5:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Matthias stays hot. In his final two games as a Panther, Shawn Matthias racked up three goals and five points. The Canucks are desperate for anyone that can score right now and since no one else seems to be stepping up, it might as well be Matthias in his Vancouver debut.
Kesler is Kesler. There will be plenty of eyes on Kesler from now to the end of the season to see how he proceeds after not being moved at the deadline as many suspected he would be. But if Kesler can overcome the emotions of being on the trade block but not moved and remain the same as he's always been in terms of compete level and desire to win, Wednesday's non-trade might turn out to be a good thing.
Shoot first, don't ask questions. Whether the Canucks start Lack, who may still be reeling over the Luongo trade, or Markstrom, who could be making his Canucks debut, the Stars will want to test the nerves of an inexperienced Vancouver netminder. Shots haven't been a problem for the Stars who have out-shot their opponents 147-94 over their last four games.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks since the start of 2014 (5-15-3).
Trade made by the Canucks at yesterday's deadline (Sent Raphael Diaz to Rangers for a draft pick).
Trade made by the Stars at yesterday's deadline (Acquired goalie Tim Thomas from Panthers for goalie Dan Ellis).
Point needed by Alex Burrows to reach 300 career points.
Points needed by Shawn Matthias to reach 100 career points. He's also two goals shy of 50 career tallies.
Minutes and 33 seconds of consecutive playing time the Canucks have not scored a goal in entering play tonight.