Just when it looked like the Canucks might have a chance to build some momentum after an impressive win on Thursday in Ottawa, they instead took a big step backwards yesterday afternoon in a game many expected them to be fired up for. Instead of turning in a strong performance for their coach who was making his first return to New York, the Canucks never really showed up falling 5-2 to the Rangers to suffer their ninth defeat in their last dozen outings. While today's game against the Hurricanes might not have as much hype as yesterday's contest, the Canucks' main concern today should only be about finding a way to emerge victorious – something they struggled to do throughout November.
The Canes, meanwhile, have been in a bit of a slump in recent weeks winning just twice in their last seven outings and are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Devils to open a short two-game home stand. The Hurricanes have been decimated by injuries lately as they're missing forward Alexander Semin as well as blue-liners Tim Gleason and Andrej Sekera among others. Today's game marks the first time the Canucks will face popular ex-teammate Manny Malhotra since his departure from Vancouver. Malhotra joined the Hurricanes after starting this season with their farm team in Charlotte (AHL). Eddie Lack is the expected starter for the Canucks in this outing although yesterday's loss may affect those plans. Cam Ward will likely get the call for the Canes.
Puck drop at 10 am PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Score first, maybe? The Canucks have only managed to open the scoring once in their last seven games and in 10 of 28 overall games this season. Even though they lead the league in wins when giving up the first goal, at some point they ought to figure scoring first can make it much easier on them in the long run.
Win the special teams battle. Even with the Canucks' overall struggles on the power play this season, they have to make the most of their chances against one of the league's poorer PK's in Carolina's.
Manny proves a point. There's not a whole lot of history between the Canucks and Canes but there certainly is between Malhotra and the Canucks. Vancouver shut down Manny for his own safety last season but Manny would certainly love to show he is still a capable NHLer by having a big night and playing a role in his team's success.
By the Numbers
Points percentage for the Hurricanes this season against Western Conference teams (2-4-3).
Points percentage for the Canucks this season against Eastern Conference teams (9-4-2).
Years since the Canucks last visit to Carolina – 4-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Dec. 15, 2011.
Straight games with a point for Dale Weise (1-2-3) entering play today, the longest streak of his NHL career.
Straight games with a point for Daniel Sedin (3-5-8) entering play today.
Years since the Canucks last won in Carolina – 3-2 on Nov. 27, 2002. They have lost 3 in a row there since.