Game 79: Canucks vs. Ducks (4.7.14)
Had the Canucks been knocked out of playoff contention on their off day yesterday, the focus of tonight's game would have likely been on the visitors and the fact that Teemu Selanne, one of the most decorated players to ever suit up in the NHL, will be making his final appearance in Vancouver. But, as luck would have it, the Selanne-watch has lost a bit of its luster only because the Canucks are still very much focused on a potential playoff spot thanks to a loss by the Dallas Stars last night to Roberto Luongo's Florida Panthers that kept Vancouver alive in the playoff race to begin Monday. Vancouver, coming off a 2-1 win over Los Angeles on Saturday, technically needs to earn at least one point tonight to remain in the chase but, in reality, anything less than a win will do them no good. It won't come easy against a Ducks team that has dominated the Canucks in the season series winning all four head-to-head meetings to date.
The Ducks, even though they've locked down a playoff spot a long time ago, are still playing for top spot in the Pacific Division which comes with the incentive of avoiding a first-round playoff date against the Kings. They seem to be choking a bit with their prize within reach as they come into tonight's contest having lost back-to-back games including dropping a 4-2 decision in Edmonton last night. The Canucks will get some good news on the injury front as blue-liner Yannick Weber, who was scratched last game with an undisclosed injury, is expected back in the lineup tonight. With the Canucks still mathematically in playoff contention, expect Eddie Lack to get the start for the 19th consecutive game.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Use Saturday's third period as a template. The only disappointing part of the Canucks' third period against the Kings on Saturday was that they couldn't find a way to display that desperation level in earlier games when they had a more realistic shot at the post-season. But knowing it's yet another do-or-die scenario tonight hopefully they can find that part of their game and play 60 minutes with that same desperation level.
Do the NHL a favour. How entertaining would a Ducks-Kings opening round playoff match be? Well it won't happen unless the Canucks help out by knocking the Ducks off the top spot in the Pacific Division. It's not exactly playing spoiler but it's the closest the Canucks will get to play that role this season.
Make it memorable for Teemu. Selanne may be on his retirement tour but he's clearly walking away from the game while he still has plenty to give. Look no further than the last time he faced the Canucks when he notched two goals and three points as part of a 9-1 win. He'll want to put on a show again tonight in his final game in Vancouver.
By the Numbers
Goal-differential in the season series for the Canucks (6 goals for; 21 goals against).
Win percentage for the Ducks this season when playing on zero days rest (9-1-2).
Times Ducks rookie goalie Frederik Andersen has beaten the Canucks this season. He is not on the trip.
Straight wins for the Ducks over the Canucks dating back to April 25, 2013.
Percent penalty kill success rate for the Canucks in the season series (8 goals allowed on 21 times shorthanded).
Career points for Teemu Selanne against the Canucks (42-49-91).