The Canucks play the first of just four home games in the month of November tonight when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Grizzlies Night at Rogers Arena.
Back in the days the Canucks and Grizzlies shared the same building, the Flyers were another team that routinely felt right at home in Vancouver. It was during the era of the Vancouver Grizzlies that the Flyers were in the midst of their run of 14 consecutive games without a loss when facing the Canucks in Vancouver – be it at the Pacific Coliseum or the now-Rogers Arena. That streak is now a thing of the past, and the Canucks have turned things around on the Flyers in recent years. They've won two of the last three head-to-head meetings at Rogers Arena (2-0-1), and three of the last four meetings overall (3-0-1) including sweeping last year's season series.
The Canucks will look to continue their recent run of success against the Flyers with a different-looking line-up than what they dressed in Friday's 4-3 win over the Coyotes. Brendan Gaunce, despite scoring his first career goal, is expected to come out in favour of Sven Baertschi. On the back end, Luca Sbisa appears to be out after missing yesterday's practice and could be replaced by recent call-up Alex Biega. Ryan Miller will return between the pipes after getting a well-earned rest on Friday.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
In a market as tough as Philadelphia, it's no secret that anything short of qualifying for the playoffs would be considered a failure. It was no shock then, coming off a season in which the Flyers finished 14 points out of a post-season spot, that a change was made behind the bench for the second time in less than two calendar years with Craig Berube shown the door and Dave Hakstol brought in straight from the University of North Dakota. But while the Flyers look different behind the bench, Hakstol's team is very similar to the one Berube left behind in terms of personnel which means they are contending with the same problems they had last season. They were among the bottom-half of the league when it came to goals scored, and in the top-half as far as number of goals allowed.
The offensive struggles appear to be something they have yet to shake. The Flyers have scored just 20 combined goals in 10 games so far this season, managing two-or-fewer goals in seven of those outings. They've gotten production, albeit not at spectacular levels, from the usual suspects such as forwards Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and newcomer Sam Gagner, along with noted offensive defenceman Mark Streit, but beyond that it's been slim pickings. Jakub Voracek's struggles are particularly concerning. He's coming off a career-high 81-point season but has just three assists so far this season despite having the second-highest ice-time among forwards behind Giroux. He's been moved off the top line as a result. Defensively, the Flyers aren't any better. They've been pretty solid 5-on-5 allowing just 13 goals against in 10 games, but it's their penalty kill that has been their Achilles heel. They've surrendered a power play goal in seven of 10 contests overall heading into action tonight.
Keys to the Game
Trade chances. Against a team that can't seem to get its offence going, it wouldn't be a bad thing for the Canucks to push the tempo especially knowing they can count on a very solid Ryan Miller in net to bail them out if need be.
Teen time. After both McCann and Virtanen learned yesterday they're sticking around past the 10-game mark, it's important for both to keep doing what has made them successful up to this point. Both, in particular McCann, have started getting onto the scoresheet with regularity lately and they'll want to see that continue.
Clean up your act. After their most recent loss to Buffalo, Flyers captain Claude Giroux lamented the fact his team took too many penalties and weren't able to get into a rhythm as a result. The Flyers are one of the most penalized teams in the league and, combined with a bad PK, you have a recipe for disaster.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Goal scored by the Flyers (Raffl) in last year's two-game season series swept by the Canucks. Vancouver scored eight.
Game active point streaks for Daniel Sedin (1-3-4) and Radim Vrbata (2-1-3) entering play tonight.
Points, all assists, for Daniel Sedin last season against the Flyers leading all skaters.
Straight games the Flyers have allowed a power play goal against.
Players, including Alex Burrows after tonight, to appear in 700 games for the Canucks franchise.
Times, in 11 games played, the Canucks have held a lead after 40 minutes of play (4-1-3 in those games).