There are many examples over the years of hyped-up games that don't live up to expectations but you'd have to figure tonight's tilt between the Canucks and Ducks – highlighted by the players who were involved in the blockbuster off-season trade – will be one of those games where the intrigue will persist throughout the night regardless of the score. The Canucks would have loved for all the buzz in this game to centre on the principle components of that trade but unfortunately a rather large secondary storyline will be whether or not they can bounce back after one of their worst performances of the season last night in a 5-1 loss to the Kings. The banged-up Canucks, who are already missing Zack Kassian and Tom Sestito, could be even more shorthanded tonight after watching Sbisa, Radim Vrbata and Derek Dorsett all leave yesterday's contest due to injury. Vancouver is looking to avoid losing consecutive games for just the second time this season.
The Ducks come into tonight's contest sitting two points ahead of the Canucks in the overall standings and in top spot in the NHL although they have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season coming into this contest. This is the third game of a four-game home stand for the Ducks. The home stand began with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders on Wednesday and was followed-up by a 3-2 shootout loss to the Coyotes on Friday. The Ducks swept the five-game season series against the Canucks last season, which included winning all three games played at the Honda Center. The Ducks have been absolutely decimated by the flu lately. Defenceman Francois Beauchemin is the latest to come down with it while Corey Perry is expected to miss his third straight game dealing with the bug. This game might have originally been scheduled as a night off for Ryan Miller but, with the Canucks coming off a loss and considering he sat out the third period of last night's contest, don't be surprised if he gets the call for Vancouver. Frederik Anderson is the expected starter for the Ducks.
Puck drop at 6 pm PT – Live on CITY, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Play like a team. Whether the Canucks revert back to their normal lines tonight or have to go with new units as a result of injuries, they need to keep things simple and get back to making the same plays they've made all season long even if it is with different personnel. Last night, they played like a collection of individuals that seemed to be running around out of position and unable to complete more than two passes in a row.
Nick and Luca lead the charge. Emotions and adrenaline figure to be running high for Bonino and Sbisa (barring injury) who will be playing the Ducks for the first time since the big off-season trade to Vancouver. The rest of the Canucks need to find a way to feed off their energy especially considering the fact they've tended to come out flat in the second half of back-to-backs this season and looked quite lethargic last night as well.
Follow Kesler's physical lead. You can bet ol' No. 17 will be at his physical best when he takes on his former mates for the first time and Kesler's Ducks teammates will want to follow suit especially against a Canucks team that has been banged up a bit lately.
By the Numbers
Goal-differential in the season series last year between the Canucks and Ducks (6 vs. 24). VAN lost all five games played.
Win percentage for the Ducks this season when Ryan Kesler records a point (4-2-2).
Multi-point game for Kesler this season in 15 games. Last season, he had nine in 77 games with Vancouver.
Time this season the Canucks will play on zero days rest. They are 0-3 in the previous three games.
Straight losses for the Canucks to the Ducks in head-to-head meetings dating back to April 25, 2013 (0-5-1).
Consecutive games played for Anaheim's Andrew Cogliano and counting. He has never missed a career game.