Coming off a close 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the Vancouver Canucks welcome the Detroit Red Wings into town. Here’s what you need to know for gameday.
The Vancouver Canucks will be getting Elias Pettersson back at the perfect time, as they try to pick up more valuable points and keep pace in the heated race for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
On Saturday afternoon, the team’s official Twitter page said that Pettersson is hopeful about returning for today’s afternoon game against the Detroit Red Wings. Pettersson hasn’t played since Jan. 3, when fellow rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi got tangled up with the slick Swede and took him down to the ice.
Thankfully, Pettersson avoided serious injuries, and the Canucks won enough games to stay close in the race for the wild card spots. Now, they need to take advantage of these home contests and start racking up the points.
Though the visiting Red Wings have been struggling mightily — with 14 losses over their last 18 games — the truth is that they simply love coming to Rogers Arena. Detroit has won three straight road games in Vancouver, and five of their last seven overall.
Detroit successfully defended home ice won the first meeting 3-2 in a shootout back on Nov. 6 earlier in the season. Though the Wings have been mired in mediocrity over the last five years, they clearly have Vancouver’s number. And the Canucks cannot let these two points slip away today.
The Red Wings may be in rebuilding mode, but like the Canucks, they’re being carried by excellent young talent. Dylan Larkin has 20 goals and 47 points, while speedster Andreas Athanasiou has 17 goals and 28 points. Veteran Gustav Nyquist is enhancing his trade value with a strong showing, posting 11 goals and 42 points.
As for the Canucks, Bo Horvat continues to enjoy a career year with 17 goals and 39 points on the season. Second-year sniper Brock Boeser has stayed hot after a slow first month — now up to 16 goals and 31 points.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom is having perhaps the finest season of his career, but he’s lost four of the last five starts. The Canucks will need him to stay sharp and focused in this crucial home contest against a team that simply dominated them.
The Canucks sit at 22-21-6 and are two points behind the Dallas Stars for the seventh seed in the West, but only one point behind the Minnesota Wild. With a win and Anaheim Ducks’ loss to the New York Islanders, Vancouver can jump right back into a playoff spot.
It should be another intriguing game between two former Western Conference rivals, who were separated following realignment five seasons ago, but the Canucks are the ones really need the two points here.