vs. Anaheim Ducks (27-19-8) Thursday, February 18th
Leading scorer: Ryan Getzlaf (6 goals, 36 points)
Keys to the game:
- McCann vs Kesler
- Putting toughness to the test
- Somehow dictate the faceoffs
The Anaheim Ducks are 8-1-1 in their past 10. After a disappointing season, they seem to have traded souls with the Montreal Canadiens.
A large part of that turn-around can be seen in Ryan Kesler, who now has 27 points. He will love to break the heart and soul of the Canucks and especially their rookies. Jared McCann has a huge assignment here, should Bo Horvat not return from his injury by this game. McCann showed that he can play a Kesler type of game when he turned up his physicality on Saturday.
It was as if he is telling the vets to man up and play an NHL game — a man’s game. If the Canucks want to have any chance of winning, they will need to heed to McCann’s words. Especially without Brandon Prust in their lineup, everyone has to toughen up for Thursday’s home game.
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Dictating the faceoffs is always a key. Possession off the faceoffs leads to zone entries, zone entries lead to shots and scoring chances, and those offensive chances give the blueline a chance to change, which is especially important when playing the tough California teams who will drill the Canucks’ defenders through the boards.
The Ducks are one of the best in the league in faceoffs (51.4 percent win rate) and the Canucks are the worst (45.4 percent). Find some way to win those draws, dictate possession, and tire out the Ducks. After all, they are playing Vancouver as the last stop on their seven-game road trip.
If the Canucks are worried about conserving energy for the second of the back-to-back on Friday against a more winnable opponent, that is also a plan. For some last hopeful words, take solace in the Ducks road record — an even 11-11-4.
For a Vancouver win:
Dave: Closest thing to a win the Canucks will manage is a loser’s point. Again, another Canuck might get injured.
For an Anaheim win:
Janik: The Ducks look more and more like a legitimate playoff team. The Canucks… Don’t.
Steve: Miller back in net. Canucks can’t contain Getzlaf.
Sarah: It will be a tough fought game as it has been all year against these division rivals.
Next: Away @ Calgary