Game 74: Canucks at Wild (3.26.14)
If the Canucks do end up falling short of making the playoffs this season, they won't be using injuries as an excuse even though nobody would blame them if they did. This season the Canucks have endured lengthy injuries to key players including Mike Santorelli, Alex Burrows, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin and now, once again, the latter is back on the list of walking wounded. Henrik suffered a lower body injury in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Sabres and will reportedly miss the next two weeks. Somehow, without their captain and emotional team leader, the Canucks will have to try and continue their push for a playoff spot by collecting two points against the Wild tonight. Vancouver, who will get Alex Burrows back in the lineup tonight, can move within four points of the final playoff spot in the West with a win but they will owe the eighth-place Coyotes a game in hand by the end of the night.
The Wild, meanwhile, are still relatively comfortable as far as making the playoffs are concerned despite sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference although they still have designs on catching the Kings to potentially move up to sixth place. They've stumbled a bit over the past couple of weeks, however, winning just three of their last 10 outings (3-3-4) although they are coming off a 4-3 overtime win over the Red Wings on Sunday. This is the third and final meeting between the former Northwest Division foes. The Wild have won both previous meetings albeit they needed a shootout both times to get the job done. Eddie Lack will get the start in goal for Vancouver. Darcy Kuemper is the expected starter for Minnesota.
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
A centre steps up. With Henrik Sedin out the Canucks will need someone to pick up the slack. That someone could be Ryan Kesler, who becomes the de facto number one centre, or it could be Shawn Matthias who might get a chance to play with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Jensen depending on where Alex Burrows slots into the lineup.
Keep momentum. Starting strong has not been an issue for the Canucks against the Wild this season. Finding a way to build on momentum, however, has been. If the Canucks get a 1-0 lead tonight, they need to make it 2-0 or 3-0 instead of letting the Wild claw back in it.
Win the special teams battle. The Wild special teams has been both good and bad lately with their power play striking in four straight games (4-for-15) but their penalty kill giving up goals in three straight (4 goals on 8 times shorthanded). In both games of the season series they've won the special teams battle. Do it tonight and they're likely coming away with a win.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season without Henrik Sedin in the lineup (2-6-0).
Time in Minnesota Wild history they have finished above Vancouver in the regular season standings (2007.08).
Different goalies to start, and win, games for the Wild this season.
Combined goals scored between the Canucks and Wild after two games in the season series.
Points (4-4-8) in 10 games for Matt Moulson since being traded to Minnesota from Buffalo.
Consecutive games played without a point for Daniel Sedin.