The Canucks (36-11-9) head into St. Louis tonight to play their first game of a Midwest road trip that sees the team visit Minnesota tomorrow and Nashville on Thursday. The Blues (24-21-9) are struggling this season, sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference, eight points out of a playoff spot. They are 4-9-4 since the start of the New Year.
In spite of their usual discrepancy in the standings, the Blues have played the Canucks tough recently, sporting a 10-8 record since 2006-07.
The Blues can't afford to take any more nights off in the tight Western Conference.
“Since October every team has been in playoff mode, that’s how tight it’s been and we’ve been no different and for us were hungry, we need to win, they’re hungry, they need to win also, I don’t think they can slip much further,” said Coach Vigneault.
The Blues dealt goaltender Roberto Luongo his last regulation loss on December 5th of last year, a 3-2 decision at Rogers Arena. In the two month stretch since, Luongo has put up gaudy numbers, going 16-0-5 with a 1.90 Goals Against Average.
Injuries continue to wreak havoc on the Canucks lineup; forward Alexandre Burrows is a game time decision with a swollen foot he suffered while blocking a shot during Saturday night’s game against Calgary. If Burrows is unable to go, the Canucks will dress 11 forwards for tonight’s game.
“We think Burrows should be (able to play),” said Coach Vigneault. “We’re gonna make sure this afternoon. The x-rays we took at home were negative, but we’re going to get a CT scan to rule everything out. We think everything looks good, and if it does it’s just a matter of managing a little pain and hopefully he should be fine”.
With Sami Salo returning, and Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis having not been placed on LTIR reserve as of yet, the Canucks are too close to the salary cap to add a player from Manitoba.
The mash unit defense that played a scrappy, spirited game against the Flames on Saturday night, will remain intact.
The Canucks have killed off 31 straight penalties over their last eight games and 38 of their last 39 over their last ten, while the Blues penalty kill is sits 20th in the league, and will likely have issues with the Canucks top ranked power play.
The Canucks have taken over the NHL lead in the Goals Against department from the Boston Bruins. The Canucks now sit first in Goals For (3.36), Goals Against (2.29), Power Play Percentage (25.1), Face-off Winning Percentage (55.1), wins (36), points (81), and winning percentage (.723). On Saturday the Canucks reached 80 points in their 56th game; the fastest they’ve reached the 80 point mark in franchise history.
DICE AND ICE A MAJOR SUCCESS
The Canucks annual Dice and Ice event, held last Thursday night, was a major success, raising close to one million dollars for the Canucks for Kids Fund.
Local philanthropist Munir Ali, stole the show with the highest ever bid put up for a single item, an Olympic torch signed by the Men’s Gold Medal winning Olympic Hockey Team, at 365,000 dollars.
Check out the Photo Gallery here.