Vancouver Canucks at Colorado Avalanche: Getting Back on Track

Nov 4, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) reacts after Vancouver Canucks right wing Zack Kassian (9) scores a goal during the third period at Pepsi Center. The Canucks won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 4, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat (53) reacts after Vancouver Canucks right wing Zack Kassian (9) scores a goal during the third period at Pepsi Center. The Canucks won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are back on the road to face the Colorado Avalanche. Perhaps their last chance to get back on track.

Every single one of the Vancouver Canucks’ upcoming games will be extremely important in the fight for the playoffs. The team has many match-ups against Pacific Division foes left, but keeping an eye on the wild card spots, meetings with Central teams are equally important.

As of today, the Canucks are six points out of a wild-card spot that — you guessed it — is currently inherited by the Avalanche. However, the Avs have played three more games. So, assuming the Canucks find a way to win this one, they would only be four points behind Colorado while having three games in hand — a good start.

In our Week #19 outlook, TCW writer David Joun made out the following keys to the game:

  1. Find a way to not lose
  2. Keep the front of the net clear
  3. Go with the flow, play a fast game

No. 1 is quite obvious, but for the Canucks, it is certainly worth mentioning. Vancouver cannot afford to lose this one.

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As to No. 2, the Avalanche actually ranks seventh in goals for, at 149. When Colorado gets shots on net, they are dangerous. So please, Canucks D, don’t screen your own goalie.

Last but not least, the Avs have a combination of aging veterans like Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay and lightning-fast youngsters like Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon. It’s quite simple: keep up with the youth and beat the vets with speed.

Now, the Avalanche is my second favourite team — that shall be allowed as a German who is neither from Colorado nor from Vancouver — so I would claim that I have decent knowledge of the team. However, Nadia Archuleta, editor of, approached me to talk the Avs and Canucks before this game. So, here is what she had to say:

1. What do you think the Avalanche’s strengths are going into the game?
The Colorado Avalanche are a speedy, skilled team. They have the firepower to make any defense tremble. They also have a goalie who, when he gets hot, is nearly unbeatable. They have a big, aggressive defense that’s skilled enough to jump into the play and score or facilitate scoring. Additionally, the Avalanche have a good mix of young players and veterans.

2. What do you think their weaknesses are?
Everyone would expect me to say defense, but it’s not true. The Colorado Avalanche’s main weakness is consistency. On any given night, they could be a tough team to beat or an easy win for an opponent. They are mental — if things start going wrong, they could very well lose their minds and blow the game.

3. Bold prediction: Who do you think will have a big night for the Avalanche?
The captain, Gabriel Landeskog. He’s been fixing for a run, having three goals in the last four games. Also, he got really chippy against the Winnipeg Jets — look for him to say nasty things in Swedish to the Sedin twins! However, don’t discount Mikhail Grigorenko. If Patrick Roy keeps him on the top line with Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, he could really start showing off the skills he displayed in major juniors.

4. Who do you think will have an off night for the Avalanche?
You know how badly it pains me to admit it, but defenseman Erik Johnson has been struggling since coming back from a lower-body injury. However, I think he’ll pull it together against the Canucks because he had a total pizza night against the Jets. Pray God Semyon Varlamov doesn’t have an off night, or we’re screwed. I think we could continue to see the decline of the veterans, Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.

5. Who on the Vancouver Canucks are you most excited to see in action?
I’m interested to see how the Sedin twins are doing. I’m rather hoping to see them do a twin thing, like take a drink from water bottles at the exact same time. I’m also interested to see how they’re aging on ice compared to Iginla and Tanguay.

6. Which Canucks player do you fear the most vs the Avalanche?
Got to go with the Sedin twins again. Jannik Hansen looks just inconsistent enough, with flashes of brilliance, that he should probably be an Avalanche. I’m worried Alexandre Burrows might bite John Mitchell or Blake Comeau.

7. What do you think will be the outcome of the game?
I think the Avalanche are going to be all fired up after the Broncos win. I think Patrick Roy is going to be pretty fiery in the locker room (I suspect what we saw with the refs was just a taste), and the Avs are going to gird up their loins. If Varly’s hot, it could be a shutout — 3-0. Otherwise, we could see the game go wide open, 5-4, Avs.

You can find my answers to the above questions at!

Let’s talk about what Nadia said. Her first point was already a great one. Imagine Ryan Miller on a crazy good, well-rested night. Semyon Varlamov plays like that with more consistency. When he’s hot, beating the Avs is a near-impossible task.

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Speaking of consistency, that may indeed be Colorado’s biggest weakness. One night, the nine-line of Matt Duchene (#9), Nathan MacKinnon (#29) and Gabriel Landeskog (#92) rips everything apart, the next night you fail to find a single dangerous scoring chance. Let’s hope for the latter when Vancouver is visiting.

I personally never knew Landeskog was a guy who chirps, but if it’s to the Sedins, well… We are used to it and so are the twins. Yeah, don’t worry about it.

Next up on the list of interesting news, Nadia expects the Avs’ No. 1 defenceman to have an off night against the Canucks. Erik Johnson has become an outstanding blueliner, though he might never be the player he was supposed to be, and if he has an off night, the Canucks will have a good chance to score. Off nights from Johnson and Varlamov would be the dream.

Nadia is excited to see Henrik and Daniel in action. They have definitely cooled down after the first months of the season, but they are still good for a goal or two. Or three. Or four. I’d find outstanding performances from our youngsters much cooler, though. Say, a Bo Horvat hat trick?

No. 6, I agree. The twins are super scary.

Last but not least, predictions. For our staff predictions, check out the outlook. I told Nadia the Canucks would beat the Avs, but in our staff predictions, I predicted an easy 4-1 win for Colorado. Honestly, I have no clue what’s going to happen. Inconsistency is key… Or something like that…

Next: We Have a New No. 1 in the Pacific Division!

What’s your prediction for tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments!