Can the Vancouver Canucks end the month on a high note?
After kicking off their eastern road trip with a decisive 5-2 win over the Rangers, the team will be looking to continue their winning ways just 24 hours later, facing off against Dougie Hamilton and the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
The Canucks have played well over the past two weeks, securing 10 out of a possible 12 points dating back to February 12th, highlighted by a three-game winning streak heading into Monday’s match-up.
With their recent success, Vancouver has managed to come within three points of the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference, while also closing the gap between divisional opponents such as Anaheim, Edmonton and Las Vegas.
The Canucks have also been on an offensive tear as of late, registering a league-leading 4.63 goals for per games played since the All-Star break. Most of this credit should go to J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson, who have combined for 29 points in their previous eight contests.
Miller was named NHL’s second star of the week as a result.
New Jersey, on the other hand, has struggled this month, losing five of their past eight contests, moving them further down the Metropolitan Division rankings. The Devils have still managed to find ways to put the puck in the back of the net during that span, registering six or more goals in four separate games, but have also been very poor defensively, surrendering 29 goals in their five February losses, including eight against the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Monday’s match-up will also mark the third meeting between Quinn Hughes and his brother, Jack. The two brothers last faced off against each other back on November 10th, 2019, with the Devils coming away with the 2-1 win on the road.
New Jersey also snagged the victory in the inaugural Hughes Bowl showdown back on October 19th, 2019. Jack potted his first-ever NHL goal that night, which eventually stood as the game-winning goal, so there’s no surprise that Quinn is hoping that he and the Canucks can come out on top on Monday.
Given the quick turnaround time for the Canucks, it is expected that head coach Bruce Boudreau will ice the same line-up that secured him the victory on Sunday night.
The only major change will be between the pipes, with Boudreau confirming during the pre-game media availability that Jaroslav Halak will get the nod.
Despite what his 2-5-2 record might show, Halak has been solid for the Canucks this season, and will be looking to help his team continue the climb back into the playoff conversation.
More importantly, however, Monday night will also mark Halak’s 10th appearance in a Canucks uniform this year. Granted he stays in the game for the full 60 minutes, the 37-year-old will be eligible to receive his $1.25 million performance bonus as a result.
Puck drop is set for 4:30pm PST.
What are your thoughts heading into Monday’s match-up against the Devils? Let us know in the comments!