Canucks Ducks

The time has finally come. The Vancouver Canucks (45-20-8) will close out their mega-homestand with a 12:30 pm PT matchup on Sunday against their Pacific Division foe Anaheim Ducks (24-46-4) before hitting the road for three games.

Anaheim will be playing on the second day of a back-to-back as they played the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon and lost by a 6-1 score.

The Ducks have a young team that has a lot of potential in the coming years, but they have struggled to pick up wins down the stretch and currently sit with the third-best odds of winning this year’s draft lottery.

Frank Vatrano leads the Ducks in scoring with 30 goals and 52 points. He is on a line with Ryan Strome and Trevor Zegras, who recently returned from an injury that kept him out of the lineup for 10 weeks.

Cam Fowler leads the defence corps and has averaged 24:35 of ice time per game. Fowler has been playing the right side with Urho Vaakanainen as his partner.

Mason McTavish continues to have a strong season as a 21-year-old. He has won 52.1% of his faceoffs and has scored 17 goals through 62 games.

Leo Carlsson (19) and Pavel Mintyukov (20) are some more young and talented players for a Ducks team that is beginning to form their core for the future.

In net, John Gibson has made the bulk of the starts, but Lukas Dostal has the more impressive stat line. Gibson has started 42 games and holds a 13-25-2 record with a .891% save percentage while Dostal has started 31 games with a 11-20-2 record and a .900% save percentage.

Gibson started for the Ducks on Saturday and allowed six goals. The expected starter for Sunday is Dostal.

Quick Hits on the Competition:

  • The Ducks have the 24th-ranked power play and are clicking at 17.8% this season. Their leading goal scorer with the man-advantage is Frank Vatrano with 12 power play markers.
  • On the penalty kill, the Ducks rank 31st and have killed off 73.2% of their penalties.
  • The Ducks are a plucky team who are 6-4-1 when they score first on the road this season while holding a 7-17-1 record on the road when the opposition scores the first goal.
  • Sunday’s game will be game four of a five-game road trip for the Ducks. It will also be their third game in four days.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Canucks are focused on leveling up their game for playoff hockey.

Since the All-Star break, the Canucks rank number one in the league for expected goals against at five-on-five. They are giving up an xGA/60 of 2.18 and have only allowed 38 goals at five-on-five in their last 24 games.

At five-on-five in those 24 games, the Canucks have had 528 scoring chances and allowed just 417 against. That is a 55.9% control of scoring chances, ranking second-best in the NHL over that stretch of games.

Head Coach Rick Tocchet wants to see this group continue to prepare for playoff hockey and their defensive play is beginning to show at a level that looks ready for postseason play.

Through the eight consecutive home games that have led up to Sunday’s final ninth game of the homestand; J.T. Miller, Conor Garland, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes each have eight points. Miller leads the way with four goals on the homestand and Vasily Podkolzin leads the team in hits with 41 over the run of games at Rogers Arena.

Miller leads the team in points on home ice this season with 52 through 37 games. Brock Boeser leads in goals with 23. Hughes is second on the team in points on home ice with 45 and has a team-leading 37 assists.

Ian Cole notched his 150 blocked shot on Thursday night and that gives him the team lead through 73 games.

Canucks’ Top Performers over Last Five:

J.T. Miller: 2g-3a-5p
Conor Garland: 2g-3a-5p
Elias Pettersson: 2g-3a-5p
Quinn Hughes: 0g-4a-4p
Nikita Zadorov: 2g-0a-2p
Nils Höglander: 2g-0a-2p

Sunday’s game is a 12:30 pm PT start time and can be viewed on Sportsnet. You can also listen to the game on the Sportsnet Radio Network and Sportsnet 650.