Players on both the Canucks and Ducks may try to convince everyone, including themselves, that tonight's game is just business as usual but the truth is that tonight will be anything but normal. While there are still two points at stake and winning is the end goal, the main focus will be the return of the Kesler, a player who was a warrior for the team during his 11 years in Vancouver but whose departure left a sour taste in the mouths of many. Whether the fans choose to cheer Kesler for his contributions over the years or deride him for the way his time in Vancouver ended tonight, the motivation to win will be high for both the Canucks and Kesler. For the Canucks, they'll want to demonstrate they're better off without their former all-star by beating the Ducks for the second time in 12 days. For Kesler, he'd love nothing more than to walk away a winner in the building he was once showered with praise but will likely hear his fair share of jeers tonight.
Both the Canucks and Ducks are coming off games where they feel like there's a lot of room for improvement. Vancouver, despite winning 5-4 last night in Edmonton, squandered leads of 3-1 and 4-3 and nearly gave up the equalizer in the dying seconds before managing to finally put away the Oilers. The Ducks, meanwhile, are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Flames on Tuesday that saw them blow a 2-0 third period lead. Anaheim is hoping to have defenceman Francois Beauchemin back in the lineup tonight. He's missed the last five games with the mumps, the same condition that forced all-star Corey Perry to recently miss five games as well including the last meeting against the Canucks. Perry returned to the Ducks lineup on November 16. With Ryan Miller starting last night, look for Eddie Lack to potentially get the call tonight between the pipes. Lack stopped 28 of 29 shots in Vancouver's 2-1 shootout win over the Ducks back on November 9. Frederik Andersen is the expected starter for the Ducks.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Be more aware defensively. Trading chances might be okay if you're playing the Oilers, but it's a much trickier proposition if you use that game plan against the Ducks. Vancouver needs to eliminate some of the sloppy play and turnovers that plagued them yesterday especially in the second period.
Don't forget about Perry. Ryan Kesler may be the most-watched man tonight but the Canucks can't lose sight of Corey Perry. Perry missed the first game of the season between the clubs but is a noted Canuck killer. Last season, he notched five goals and 10 points in the five-game season series. He's searching for his first points since returning to the lineup after a recent five-game absence due to the mumps.
Ryan has his night. Nick Bonino got to play hero in his return to Anaheim 11 nights ago so you'd have to figure Ryan Kesler figures it's his turn tonight. You know he'll be fired up to play in his first game back and he'll be feeding off the crowd whether they're nice or nasty.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Ducks in their last seven games (1-1-5). They've still earned points in six of seven.
Win percentage for the Canucks when playing on zero days rest (1-3-0). The lone win came against Anaheim.
Straight games without a point for Anaheim's Ryan Kesler. His longest point-drought this season is 3 games.
Straight home losses for the Canucks against the Ducks dating back to January 19, 2013.
Days since Ryan Kesler's last game at Rogers Arena. He scored a goal in his final game as a Canuck on April 13, 2014.
Career games played for Daniel Sedin, counting tonight. He's expected to play in career game No. 1000 on Sunday against Chicago.