It’s been a busy seven days for the Vancouver Canucks and the train keeps on rolling.
After a pair of back-to-backs, the team regroups and prepares for the Seattle Kraken to visit Rogers Arena on Saturday night for a true ‘heart of the Pacific’ matchup between division foes.
With their 12-4-1 record, the Canucks are holding onto the second-best record in the Western Conference. The Kraken come into Saturday’s game with a 6-8-4 record and have a 3-3-4 record on the road in the first quarter of the year.
The Kraken are coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders where former WHLer, Kailer Yamamoto was the first star of the game. The 25-year-old winger picked up a goal, an assist and added the game-winning shootout goal to seal the victory for the Kraken – who had lost five of their previous six games.
Jaden Schwartz is leading the offence in Seattle nowadays. He has a team-leading eight goals on the season. The points leader for the Kraken lives on the backend with Vince Dunn. The 27-year-old left-shot defenceman has 16 points this season and is fifth out of NHL defencemen for assists on the year. Quinn Hughes continues to lead the league with 21 assists this season, for the record.
Dunn and Schwartz have been connected for a lot of their points this season – especially on the power play. Of Schwartz’s eight goals this season, Dunn has assisted on six of them.
On top of their leading scorers, the Kraken have some exciting young forwards in their lineup. 24-year-old Eeli Tolvanen has been great for the Kraken since the team picked him up off waivers last season. Tolvanen has 19 goals and 19 assists in the 66 games since Seattle scooped him up.
Tolvanen is exciting but he’s no Matty Beniers, who was selected 2nd overall at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Beniers is now in his second full season in the NHL and was impressive in his rookie season last year. He finished the 2022-23 season with 24 goals and 33 assists for 57 points in 80 games as a rookie en route to claiming the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
The Kraken will have one British Columbian in their lineup with Kelowna-born Justin Schultz. The 33-year-old, right-shot defenceman is averaging 16:13 of ice time this season and will see time on their second power play unit.
Each of the Kraken’s two netminders has a sub-0.900% save percentage on the season and it’s a toss-up for who will be in net for them on Saturday night. Philipp Grubauer had the start against the Islanders on Thursday, but it could end up being Joey Daccord in net for the Squid on Saturday night.
The Canucks are 6-0-1 at home this season and the boys in blue and green will look for some more home cooking on Saturday night during Hockey Night in Canada. The club has only played three home games in November but is still without a regulation loss at Rogers Arena this season.
J.T. Miller has been an offensive dynamo lately, picking up 19 points in his last 11 games. It’s not just the offence that’s been impressive over the past 11 games for Miller. He’s only been on the ice for five five-on-five goals-against over that timeframe and has won 59% of the 278 faceoffs he’s taken over the last 11 games.
On the topic of playing well defensively over the past 11 games, Elias Pettersson is leading the Canucks forwards in shorthanded ice time over those 11 games. He has only been on the ice for one goal against the penalty kill.
The bottom-six is continuing to play well at five-on-five and well is an understatement for how good they have been defensively. The Canucks currently have six players in the top 50 for the best goals-against per 60 minutes played. Sam Lafferty, Conor Garland, Nils Höglander, Pius Suter, Dakota Joshua and Anthony Beauvillier are all clicking with a GA/60 under 1.25.
Beauvillier is the league leader in terms of goals against per 60 minutes at even strength. He has only been on the ice for one goal against in his 207:25 of even-strength ice time.
A large disparity between these teams comes at five-on-five.
The Canucks hold the league's best goal differential at even strength with 48 goals scored and 27 against, giving them a +21-goal differential and a 64% control of the goal share.
As for the Kraken, they have been making hay on the power play and have been clicking at 26.8%, which gives them the seventh-best power play conversion rate in the league. At even-strength, the Kraken have a -15-goal differential and only trail the San Jose Sharks in terms of goal share – holding a 40% control.
Saturday’s game is sure to be an entertaining one at Rogers Arena. This Pacific division rivalry is growing with the Canucks and the newest NHL organization. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm PT and you can watch the game on Hockey Night in Canada or listen to the radio call on Sportsnet 650.