Game 80: Canucks vs. Avalanche (4.10.14)
It would appear as if the future can't get here fast enough for the Canucks. On Monday night, Vancouver dropped a 3-0 decision to the Anaheim Ducks and officially watched their playoff hopes go down the drain. On Tuesday, the team dismissed President and GM Mike Gillis and, 24 hours later, named former team captain and face of the franchise Trevor Linden as its new president. Tonight, the team – which includes the new man at the top in Linden - will begin the process of evaluating the players who could return to form the 2014.15 Canucks when they host the Avs, a team that appeared to be in disarray for the past few seasons but have rebuilt themselves into a legitimate contender this year.
While points and standings mean nothing to the Canucks in tonight's tilt, they are still significant for the Avalanche who are not only battling for home ice advantage in the first round but potentially top spot in the entire Western Conference. The Avs are certainly are heating up at the right time as they come into tonight's game having won seven of their last eight games with their only hiccup during the stretch being a 3-2 shootout loss to the Penguins on Sunday. They were 4-1 victors over the Oilers in their last outing on Tuesday. Tonight marks the third and final meeting between the Canucks and Avs this season. The teams have split the first two games so far with each holding a home ice victory over the other. Jacob Markstrom is expected to get his first start for the Canucks since being acquired from the Panthers back in early March, while Semyon Varlamov will likely be between the pipes for the Avs as he looks to pick up his 41st win of the season which would set a new Avalanche single-season franchise record for a goaltender.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Just play. After everything that has gone on over the 72 hours, you can understand if this might be an uneasy time for some of the players. Just playing a game, ironically, might be the best distraction from all the craziness. With nothing to lose and nothing to gain, maybe they'll actually loosen up and make things fun.
Make a Mark. Now that Jacob Markstrom will (likely) finally get a chance to start a game with his new team, he's got to use this opportunity to demonstrate he is in fact NHL-ready despite what has been said about him in recent weeks. A strong performance tonight would be a good first step.
Make history. Over the years, the Avs have had many memorable moments come against the Canucks (Joe Sakic's 500th career goal comes to mind). Why not make it one more for Semyon Varlamov tonight by having him set the record for most wins by a goalie in one season in franchise history?
By the Numbers
Win needed for the Avs to tie their franchise record for most wins in a single season (record is 52).
Rookie coaches in NHL history to win 50-or-more games in his first season. Roy is the latest this season.
Straight games with a point for the Avs entering play tonight (7-0-1).
Road victories for the Avs this season, a new franchise record.
Days since Jacob Markstrom's last NHL start (5-2 loss to Jets with the Panthers).
The last time the Avs finished higher than the Canucks in the regular season standings.