The Canucks and the Flames face each other in the first of six meetings this season. Kevin Bieksa is expected to return to the lineup, paired with Dan Hamhuis, replacing Aaron Rome on the blue line.
The last time these two teams saw each other was the final game of the regular season last year on April 10th. In a 7-3 knockout Henrik Sedin earned the league scoring lead by getting four assists, three of them on goals by his brother.
“Calgary is usually our biggest rival,” said Bieksa, who had two goals and an assist in the last meeting with Calgary. “I think it will take one shift to spark the reunion. It will be a hard-fought game and it will be physical and emotional."
The Flames haven’t made it past the Western Quarterfinals since 2004 and last season they failed to make the playoffs. Right now they are ranked 14th in the West.
"You never want to wish teams to struggle; that's bad karma," Ryan Kesler told Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun Tuesday. "But when you see them doing as bad as they are, there's almost a 'wow' factor. I remember a couple of years ago and we were fighting for playoff spots, there was almost a hatred for each other back then. I don't think there's a hatred anymore.”
"Personally, I don't care how the Flames do,” said Bieksa. “As long as we're in first place, I don't care who's below us."
Vancouver is currently second in the Northwest Division but two points tonight could put them back ahead of the Colorado Avalanche. Just over the quarter mark of the season, just five points separate teams second to 13th.
The Canucks know they need to look out for Calgary’s captain, Jarome Iginla, who has scored 10 goals this season (10-10-20) and is consistently a threat.
"If you wake him up, it's like waking up a giant," said Alex Burrows. "He's dangerous and carries that team on his back. We have to make sure we play him strong and hard, and don't give him much time and space. Otherwise, he's going to make you pay with smart plays."
The Canucks are 4-5-2 on the road this season after losing their last two road games in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
“We get the opportunity tomorrow to get back to .500,” Head Coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday. “And we’re going to take it one game at a time.”
CANUCKS FACE MORRISON
The Vancouver Canucks face Brendan Morrison for the first time since he was released during the preseason on a professional tryout contract.
Morrison was a key member of the Canucks top lines from 2000 to 2008. He had a career season in 2002-03, scoring 25 goals and 46 assists.
Since leaving Vancouver, Morrison has been on four teams in as many years, making stops in Anaheim, Dallas, and Washington before joining Calgary this season.
During his last season with the Washington Capitals, he finished a plus-23 and had 42 points (12-30-42), his best season since leaving the Canucks.
In 24 games with the Calgary Flames this season, Morrison has recorded 15 points (4-11-15).
Morrison has gone scoreless in the last six games but the 35 year-old is ready to change that against his former team.
“Of course, when we play Vancouver, there's nothing more I would like than to beat them,” Morrison said shortly after signing with Calgary in October. “I think that's human nature when one team tells you they don't want you then you have a chance to play them a couple of times. You want to put your best foot forward.”