The Canucks look to sweep their two-game home stand with a win over the New Jersey Devils tonight at Rogers Arena.
Last night's 6-3 win over the Blackhawks might not have been an oil painting – in fact you could make the argument that Chicago dominated large stretches of that contest – but when you're a team as desperate for wins as the Canucks are, you're more than happy to take it. What is critical for the Canucks tonight is not to squander the momentum gained from yesterday's slump-busting win by following it up with a poor effort tonight against a Devils team that is pretty desperate for a win themselves. New Jersey is looking to avoid going winless on their three-game Western Canadian road trip which concludes tonight following losses in Calgary and Edmonton.
After welcoming Brandon Prust back to the line-up yesterday, the Canucks are hoping they will bolstered by another returning veteran tonight in the form of Radim Vrbata, who has missed the last two games with a groin injury. One veteran the Canucks will definitely not have available is Brandon Sutter. He was placed on injured reserve yesterday with an abdominal strain and will be re-evaluated in two weeks time. Look for Jacob Markstrom to possibly get the call in tonight's contest for the Canucks, while Cory Schneider will go for the Devils.
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
Following the Devils' 4-3 overtime win over the Canucks two weeks ago, many observers marveled at their turnaround this season and noted specifically their improved offensive prowess in addition to their normal stingy defensive play. The Devils certainly have had a few more offensive outbursts than we're used to seeing from them, but it's not as if they've turned into a team to be feared for their goal production. Case and point, through the first two games of their current three-game road trip, the Devils have managed a grand total of just three combined goals. Having problems scoring (something the Devils have been quite used to) wouldn't be such a big deal if they weren't also giving up goals in bunches. They've surrendered eight combined goals on this road trip – tied for the most they have allowed in a two-game stretch this season. They'll have Cory Schneider back between the pipes tonight and they hope his return will help close the floodgates. Schneider surrendered three goals in his most recent start – a 3-2 loss in Calgary – but prior to that had an gone seven straight starts allowing two-or-fewer goals.
One area the Devils have been remarkably consistent in all season long has been on the power play. In 19 games played this season, New Jersey has struck on the power play in 13 outings. They've also got the third-best power play in the league heading into action tonight clicking at 22.7 percent on the season (15-for-66). On the road, it's even better at 28.1 percent (9-for-32). They have scored power play goals in 7-of-9 road games overall including their last five in a row. It's worth noting, however, that the Devils have also allowed four shorthanded goals this season. Only two other teams have allowed that many shorthanded markers this season – the Canucks (4) and the Coyotes (5).
Keys to the Game
More Sedinery. Last night's game saw the Sedin twins at their finest with Daniel netting a hat trick and four points, and Henrik setting a new career-high with five points. For the Canucks to really get on a roll here, they'll definitely need Danny and Hank to continue leading the charge.
Don't get suckered in. Since the last meeting against the Devils, there's been a lot of talk about the bad blood particularly involving Devils players Tootoo and Farnham. Those guys may want to stir things up, but the Canucks can't be too concerned with their antics and just play the game the right way.
Time for Cory's story. Ex-Canuck Cory Schneider didn't get to face his old team earlier this month so you can bet he's looking forward to this chance. Considering he's also winless in two starts at Rogers Arena since the trade to New Jersey, he'll be extra motivated to change that narrative as well.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season when playing on zero days rest (2-0-1).
Win percentage for the Devils this season in one-goal games (7-2-1). Vancouver is a league-worst .154 (2-5-6).
Win percentage for the Canucks this season when scoring four-or-more goals in a game (5-0-0).
Straight games without a win for the Devils at Rogers Arena (0-2-1). (Last victory January 13, 2009).
Straight games with a power play goal scored by the Canucks (8-for-21 during that stretch).
Combined penalty minutes between the Canucks and Devils in their meeting on November 8.