Lately, the Canucks have been pining for the days when all they had to deal with was a goaltending controversy. Okay, so maybe that's not entirely true, but things sure seemed rosier just a few weeks ago when the Canucks were mostly fielding questions about which of their two goaltenders deserved the next start – backup Eddie Lack, who had the edge statistically, or starter Ryan Miller, who did nothing but win games. Goaltending is still a hot topic these days (when is it ever not?) but the Canucks biggest concern is their inability to score and win. On Wednesday, Vancouver suffered their fifth consecutive loss after being blanked for just the second time this season in a 2-0 loss to Dallas – a team that entered the game having the highest goals against average in the league. The Canucks will look to some new line combinations to try and kick start their stagnant offence, most notably having Jannik Hansen play with Nick Bonino and Chris Higgins while having Alex Burrows skate alongside Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett.
If there's one team that can sympathize with the Canucks these days, it's the Flames. Like Vancouver, Calgary's offence has dried up and it's a big reason why they come into tonight's game riding a seven-game losing streak which includes falling 2-1 to Dallas last night. The Flames' recent swoon has pushed them out of a top-eight position in the Western Conference but they still sit just two points back of the Canucks albeit having played three more games. This is the second of four meetings between the Canucks and Flames this season. Vancouver won the first meeting 4-2 in Calgary back on opening night in Willie Desjardins' NHL debut behind the bench. Look for Ryan Miller to be back between the pipes for the Canucks after getting Wednesday night off. He has not played since suffering his personal third straight defeat in last Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Rangers. Despite starting last night, don't be surprised if the Flames go again with Jonas Hiller as Karri Ramo has been under the weather in recent days.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
The twins must lead. When a team is struggling to score as the Canucks are, you have to look to their best players and that's Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who have combined for just one goal and four points over this five-game losing streak including none in the past three games. They've traditionally been very good against the Flames combining for 40 goals and 149 points over their careers versus Calgary. They need to add to those totals.
Beware the O from the D. Unlike the Canucks, the Flames have had no problems generating offence from their back end. In fact, the blue-liners are leading the charge on offence accounting for 25 of the team's 95 total goals (26.3 percent). Mark Giordano leads all league D-men in points with 32, while his nine goals are second among all NHL defenceman behind teammate Dennis Wideman's 10.
Weather the early storm. Knowing the desperation level of the Canucks, the Flames have to be prepared for an early surge from the home side that wants to take advantage of Calgary's tired state. Calgary only has to watch the game tape from the first period of Vancouver's Wednesday tilt against Dallas to know what to expect.
By the Numbers
Average goals per game scored by the Canucks during their current five-game losing streak (seven total goals).
Average goals per game scored by the Flames during their current seven-game losing streak (11 total goals).
Times this season the Canucks have been held to one-or-fewer goals (1-6-0 in those games).
Home wins in a row for the Canucks over the Flames dating back to March 31, 2012.
Wins in a row for the Canucks over the Flames dating back to April 6, 2013.
Total blocked shots for the Flames this season, leading the NHL. Kris Russell leads the league with 102.