Vancouver Canucks Fly South To Take On Avalanche


Winter is coming. Time to start flying south, birds. The Vancouver Canucks (8-4-0) will be mimicking the migration patterns of the aviary world, as they fly to the Mile High City, to take on the struggling Colorado Avalanche (3-5-5) tonight at 7 pm MST in the cozy confines of Pepsi Center.

The game will take place on voting day, and I will be voting ‘yes’ for an Avalanche win. The team certainly needs it, both for the points in the standings, as well as the good vibes in the locker room. You could sense a real lingering frustration in the player’s voices after their disappointing loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Granted, the Ducks are the league’s top team, but the Avs held a 2-1 lead after the first period, and were in a good position to take the game.

The frustration was on full display, when team captain Gabriel Landeskog, took a silly elbowing penalty on Ducks forward Corey Perry late in the game. The Avalanche were pressing to tie the things up late with the goaltender pulled, and Landy essentially threw away all hope, because he couldn’t keep his emotion and chicken wing down (might as well stick with the bird theme).

After poor first periods against San Jose and St. Louis, the Avalanche came out and really set the tone early against the Ducks. This will be a key again tonight against the Canucks. Especially since this is a team that will surely be looking to exact some revenge on the Avs, since the Canucks were thumped 7-3 in their visit to Pepsi Center a little over a week ago. If the Avs do start strong, I urge them to keep the foot on the gas. Consistent play, and ability to persevere through portions of the game when the bounces aren’t going the way of the Avs has been a problem this season. The second period against Anaheim was awful, and it has been a growing theme this season – the Avs are getting burned by one stinker of a period, and losing games because of it.

Do You Know Your Enemy?

The Sedin twins are back in form this season, with both guys averaging at least a point-per-game. Each has 9 assists, although Henrik takes home the bragging rights, with a slight 4-3 edge in the goals department. The Canucks have also received a nice boost, from a guy who wore an Avalanche jersey many moons ago, Radim Vrbata. Vrbata is the team leader with 5 goals.

The Canucks aren’t short on secondary scoring. They already have 12 guys with a pair of goals or more, and 7 players who have already scored 3 goals on the season. The Sedins/Vrbata line is the big threat, no doubt, but the Avalanche can’t sleep on the rest of this team if they want the win.

Ryan Miller is the expected starter in net for the Canucks. He currently has a 2.24 GAA and 0.918 save percentage, to go along with his impressive 8-1 record so far this season. Miller rode the pine the last time Vancouver played in Denver.

Avalanche Keys

1. Nathan MacKinnon needs to continue to add his scoring punch to the lineup. He has 4 goals in his past 3 games, and the Avalanche have struggled to score goals this season.

2. The Avalanche can’t let Vancouver establish zone time. The top line for the Canucks is especially dangerous when given time to create, and their power play is deadly too. The Avalanche need to get the puck out of their own zone quickly and efficiently, to avoid getting pinned deep. If the Avs get pinned deep, they will start taking penalties, and the Canucks offense will get into a rhythm.

3. Play Zach Redmond.

4. Don’t be afraid to shoot the puck. The Avalanche get into trouble when they try to be too selective with their shots, and wait for perfect scoring chances. They can still play creative hockey, but when they get a chance to keep it simple, and put a good old fashioned shot on net, that’s what has to happen.

5. Do what it takes to win. Things aren’t going well for the Avalanche, and the game may not be an easy one tonight. The Avalanche need to find a way to win anyway. They need to be more opportunistic, and buckle down the clamps when they have a lead. This team has blown way too many advantages, and missed out on several points this season because they can’t score the big goal.

Canucks Team Stats

  • Goals per game: 3.08 (6th in NHL)
  • Goals against per game: 2.83 (19th)
  • Power Play: 22.7 % (7th)
  • Penalty Kill: 87.0 % (6th)
  • Face-Offs: 46.7 % (29th)
  • Corsi: 51.21 % (10th)
  • PDO: 100.0 (14th)

Avalanche Team Stats

  • Goals per game: 2.38 (23rd in NHL)
  • Goals against per game: 2.77 (17th)
  • Power Play: 17.0 % (19th)
  • Penalty Kill: 92.4 % (2nd)
  • Face-Offs: 47.5 % (27th)
  • Corsi: 42.92 % (29th)
  • PDO: 101.5 (13th)