Playing seven straight games away from home might seem like a daunting assignment but, given the way the Canucks are rolling these days, this trip certainly doesn't seem too intimidating. Then again, with that said, the Canucks know they are only as good as their last result and they won't squander an opportunity to begin their road swing on a high note especially considering the competition will get tougher as the trip progresses. The Canucks, who bring a two-game win streak into this game and are coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Devils on Tuesday, won't expect to just show up and have two points handed to them on a silver platter but it's hard not to think that way given the rough state the Blue Jackets have been in lately.
Columbus is coming off a 4-2 loss to the Jets on home ice on Tuesday and has dropped four consecutive games and 13 of their last 15 overall dating back to October 24. Not only have they failed to put together positive results on most nights, they've been absolutely decimated by injuries as well. Among the key contributors they're missing include Nathan Horton, whose career looks to be over due to a degenerative back injury. Brandon Dubinsky, who was their third-leading point producer last season, has also yet to play this season after undergoing abdominal surgery. Budding superstar blue-liner Ryan Murray, who is currently on injured reserve, has been limited to just four games this season as he continues to deal with a knee injury. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who is just two seasons removed from winning the Vezina Trophy, has also been forced to miss time with injuries as well although he is currently healthy and is expected to start against the Canucks tonight. Vancouver will likely go with Ryan Miller between the pipes. The Canucks and Blue Jackets split last year's season series with the home team winning each game. Vancouver will be without forward Zack Kassian for the foreseeable future. Kassian did not accompanying the team on the trip after suffering a finger injury on Tuesday. Look forward Linden Vey to take his spot in the lineup.
Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
Shut down Johansen's line. Columbus' top line of Johansen-Foligno-Hartnell sits 1-2-3, respectively, in team scoring and has combined for 23 goals, which represents a whopping 45 percent of the entire team's output. If the Canucks keep this line in check as they've been doing the last few games to other teams' top units, the Blue Jackets will be hard-pressed to find offence from other sources.
Steer clear of the sin bin. As dismal as Columbus' offence has been this season, they've been remarkably consistent on the man-advantage. They're near the top of the league converting at 23.2 percent and they've scored a power play goal in 15 of 21 games played. The Canucks won't want to tempt fate by allowing the Blue Jackets to work on the power play.
Strike first. It's no secret that every team stands a better chance of winning when they open the scoring. For the Blue Jackets, though, it's critical. Columbus is 1-10-1 this season when giving up the first goal. That's a win percentage of .083, second worst in the league behind Only Buffalo (0 wins). When they score first, they're a respectable 5-3-1.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks against the East this season (5-1-0). They've won their last five in a row.
Save percentage for Ryan Miller over his last two starts (44 saves on 45 shots).
Canucks tied for the scoring lead in last year's season series with 3 points: the Sedins, and Ryan Stanton.
Times, in 21 games, the Blue Jackets have managed to hold their opponent to two-or-fewer goals (4-0 in those games).
Minutes, and five seconds, of consecutive playing time without a goal allowed by the Canucks/Ryan Miller entering tonight's game.
Regular season games played by Derek Dorsett with Columbus from 2008.09 to 2012.13.