The Canucks look to pick up two points against the Anaheim Ducks tonight when they play the first of back-to-back games in SoCal to close out their four-game road trip.
There are times when earning a single point in a game feels like a victory, and other times when it feels like a disappointment. For the Canucks, despite dropping a 3-2 shootout decision on Friday in Dallas, they had to feel pretty good about the fact they twice battled back from a deficit against the top team in the Western Conference. The Ducks, on the other hand, are probably still seething after squandering a two-goal lead with less than two minutes left in regulation on Friday to fall 3-2 in overtime to Chicago. So while the Canucks look to continue their momentum on a road trip that has seen them earn three of a possible four points so far, the Ducks are hoping to turn the tide by snapping a two-game winless skid in tonight's critical divisional clash.
Aside from the recent routine of alternating rookie Jake Virtanen and Sven Baertschi in and out of the line-up – and it appears Baertschi will be the odd-man out tonight up front – no other line-up changes are expected for the Canucks. Defenceman Ben Hutton, who has been out since November 18, joined the team for practice yesterday but is not expected to play tonight. With the Canucks concluding their trip tomorrow in Los Angeles, they could potentially turn to Jacob Markstrom tonight and give Ryan Miller an additional day of rest before coming back with the veteran netminder against the Kings.
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
When the Canucks visited Anaheim back on October 12 and earned a 2-1 shootout win over the Ducks in what the latter's second game of the season, many wrote off the loss for Anaheim as just part of a slow start for a team that should quickly find their stride and rise to the top of the Pacific Division. Nearly two months later and what were minor worries have upgraded to reasons to be concerned. The Ducks certainly aren't in as dire straits as they were back in October when they posted a 1-7-2 record while averaging just 1.00 goals per game scored. In November, they are currently 7-4-3 averaging 2.57 goals per game. But aside from a four-game win streak to start the month, the Ducks have struggled to string together wins. Goals continue to be hard to come by as in their last 10 games they've only managed to score more than three goals on two occasions. The good news for the Ducks is some of their more counted on point producers are finally starting to bump slumps. Ryan Getzlaf, who had just five assists in his first 13 games played this season, has 10 points in his last seven outings. Ryan Kesler, who began the season with just seven points in his first 21 outings, comes into tonight's game with a three-game point streak.
The Ducks also have some question marks in net and you'd have to wonder how long it will be before they choose to go in a different direction if the wins don't come more consistently. Talented 22-year-old John Gibson, who appeared in 23 games with the Ducks last season backing up Frederik Andersen, was recently re-called from San Diego (AHL) due to an illness to Andersen. Gibson began the season in the AHL mostly because the Ducks wanted to get him playing time as opposed to having him sit on most nights. He's appeared in three games since the re-call, including starting the last two in a row. Andersen returned to practice yesterday but, according to Coach Boudreau, will take a few days to get back into game shape so look for Gibson to get the call once again tonight.
Keys to the Game
Know who to go after. Things have not been smooth sailing so far for ex-Canuck Kevin Bieksa in Anaheim. Not only is he a minus-10 (his defence partner Cam Fowler is minus-11), but he also has the worst SAT (shot attempt) score among Anaheim blue-liners. However, he still logs big and key minutes together with Fowler so the Canucks will want to take advantage of that struggling pairing when they see it.
Time for the kids to produce again. The red hot Sedin line has taken off some pressure from other lines to produce, but the Canucks will need their youngsters to start chipping in again soon. Those include Bo Horvat (2 points in his last 7 games), Jared McCann (2 points in his last 9 games), Sven Baertschi (no points in his last 6 games), and Jake Virtanen (no points in his last 6).
It's all in the head. Two months into the season and the Ducks still have yet to play their best hockey. They didn't make it to the Western Conference Final by fluke last season. They have to start playing with the belief that they're a team that can, and should, win on most nights as they did last year.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Win for the Ducks in their last five home games (1-1-3).
Straight games the Canucks have earned at least a point playing at the Honda Center (2-0-1).
Game point streak for Daniel Sedin, his longest since a 7-game streak from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5, 2013.
Fighting majors for the Ducks as a team this season, only Columbus (13) has more. (VAN – 10).
Points for the Ducks after November last season (25 GP). They have 21 points in 24 games entering the final November game this year.
Points for the Canucks after November last season (24 GP). They have 25 points in 24 games entering the final November game this year.