The Canucks spent a good part of yesterday taking in the Remembrance Day ceremony in our nation's capital and while that experience is certainly one worth remembering, what they would like to forget is what has happened for the most part on this road trip prior to yesterday. Vancouver is 1-1-1 after the first three games on the road swing and, despite the fact they're coming off a 5-3 win in Columbus on Tuesday, even Coach Desjardins admitted he'd like his team to forget how they played in that contest. The Canucks were out-performed for long stretches in that contest by the Blue Jackets despite escaping with their first win in eight days.
The Senators, who are looking to snap a short two-game winless skid, figure to provide a much stiffer test for the Canucks, who could have a different look to their line-up tonight provided everybody is healthy and available. Yesterday's practice lines seemed to indicate that Jake Virtanen would be back in at the expense of another rookie, Jared McCann. However, both Virtanen and Brandon Sutter are banged up according to Desjardins and will be game-day decisions. Ryan Miller is expected back between the pipes for Vancouver. Ottawa will not reveal their starting goaltender until game day. (Update: The Senators have confirmed Andrew Hammond as their starter for tonight).
Puck drop at 4:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Sens authored one of the feel-good stories in the NHL last season when, led by goalie Andrew 'Hamburglar' Hammond, they put together a tremendous late-season surge going 23-4-4 in their last 31 games to earn a playoff spot. Although no one expected them to just pick up where they left off last regular season, the Sens would probably have liked to begin this season with a little more consistency in the win column. Their team, aside from a few departed veterans, is essentially the same as last season – one that boasts a talented group of dynamic young forwards as well as one of the league's most offensively-gifted blue-liners in Erik Karlsson. Offence hasn't been a problem for the Sens, who are averaging 2.93 goals per game this season. That figure will increase once Karlsson gets off his goal-scoring slump. He has just one goal on the campaign despite the fact he's still second in overall team scoring with 14 points. Ottawa is getting solid production from the majority of their top-six, with Mike Hoffman being the most pleasant surprise. Hoffman, who is coming off a 27-goal and 48-point campaign last season, has 10 points in 11 games played so far and has not gone more than two games in a row without finding the scoresheet.
Where the Sens have faltered is trying to keep pucks out of their own net. They're one of a small handful of teams that have averaged more than three goals per game against this season. Some fans may have been disappointed the starter's gig wasn't handed to Hammond after his incredible run last season, although it's not surprising that Craig Anderson is back as the No. 1 netminder considering he's in the first year of a three-year contract extension he signed back in the summer of 2014. Anderson's statistics have not been impressive. He brings a 3.12 GAA and a .907 save percentage into tonight's contest and has allowed three-or-more goals in seven of 11 starts this season. Hammond, meanwhile, doesn't have eye-popping statistics (2.55 GAA, .926 save percentage) but he has earned his team at least a point in all three of his starts this season.
Keys to the Game
Hansen stays hot. If Tuesday night was an audition for Jannik Hansen on the top line, he aced it with flying colours by recording a career-high four points while making Daniel and Henrik look more dangerous than they have all season. Consistency is the key and the team will be looking to see if Hansen can continue to spark that trio into delivering points in bunches.
Decline the penalties. We say this in jest, but back-to-back games (3 of their last 4 overall) allowing a shorthanded goal can't be tolerated. The first PP unit, which has been on the ice for all three shorthanded markers against, needs to be better aware of their surroundings. Scoring on the power play wouldn't hurt either.
Tighten up in the D zone. There's no question the Sens can out-score opponents but they can't hang their goalie out to dry. They're near the top of the league when it comes to most shots allowed per game, and in their last four outings have been out-shot by a combined 161-105, including 38-26 on Tuesday night and paid for it allowing a season-high seven goals.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Shorthanded goals allowed by the Canucks in 2014.15. They've surrendered three already this season.
Straight games with a point for rookie D Ben Hutton, a career-high.
Shorthanded goals for the Senators this season, leading the NHL.
Points needed by Daniel Sedin to reach 900 for his NHL career.
Percent penalty kill success rate for Ottawa (42-for-56). They have given up PPGs in 11 of 15 games this season.
Kilometres from Prescott, Ontario (hometown of Ben Hutton) to Kanata (home of the Senators).