There haven't been many games this season where the Canucks have finished second in the effort department so Thursday's 3-1 loss to Roberto Luongo and the Panthers certainly stands out for all the wrong reasons. While it may be easy to overlook that game given the fact many of the fans in attendance at Rogers Arena seemed to enjoy the sight of Luongo returning as a conquering hero, the fans won't be quite as kind tonight if the home team doesn't put forth a much better performance against a hated rival in the Flames, a team that is also breathing down their necks in the Pacific Division standings sitting just four point behind them. Given Thursday's lackluster effort, it's no surprise that lineup changes are likely coming for this game. Forward Chris Higgins, who sat out Thursday's game as well as yesterday's practice with the flu, is expected to be back. Defenceman Frank Corrado, who was called up from Utica (AHL) on Thursday, could also draw into the lineup. Corrado has not appeared in an NHL game this season. His last NHL game came in Vancouver's season finale last year against the Flames, the night he recorded his first career NHL point with his first career NHL goal.
While Luongo and the Panthers did the Canucks no favours on Thursday, Florida, sans Luongo, did help Vancouver out last night by knocking off the Flames 6-5 at the Saddledome. The loss was Calgary's third in a row marking their longest losing streak since they dropped eight in a row from December 6 to 20 – a slump that reached its apex with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Canucks at Rogers Arena. After a tough night for Jonas Hiller yesterday in which he allowed all six goals in the loss to the Panthers, don't be surprised if the Flames turn to recent call-up Jon Ortio in goal tonight. Ortio, who was summoned from Adirondack (AHL) as a result of an injury to regular backup Karri Ramo, might have had a chance to get into yesterday's game with Hiller struggling had it not been for the fact he was without his contact lenses which were still in his luggage which hadn't yet made its way to Calgary after a rough travel day for the 23-year-old netminder. Ortio has appeared in nine career games, all coming last season, including one against the Canucks. Hiller has started both games for Calgary against Vancouver this season. Ryan Miller is expected to start for the Canucks and will be looking to improve on his 4-2-0 career record versus the Flames.
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
Don't stop playing. In their Thursday loss to the Panthers, the Canucks stopped skating in the final 40 minutes and were simply outworked by the Panthers. Though we'd like to think it was a one off, the Canucks did something similar the last time they faced the Flames as well squandering a 2-0 lead before eventually winning in OT. Willie will be looking for a more consistent, 60-minute effort from his crew.
Get traffic to the net. The Canucks may not have been purposely trying to avoid being aggressive with their former goaltender on Thursday but they certainly didn't do much in the way of preventing him from seeing the puck despite throwing 33 shots on net. They need to do more to take away the opposing goalie's sightlines tonight.
Beware the pinching D. Thursday notwithstanding, the Canucks' defence has been instrumental in sparking their offence in recent games. The Flames know this more than anyone after Tanev burned them in overtime in the last meeting. They need to be aware of Vancouver's back end as much as their forwards.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Flames in their last six road outings (1-4-1).
Win percentage for the Flames when leading after two periods (10-0-0). Chicago is the only other unbeaten team when leading after two.
Points each for Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin & Chris Tanev against the Flames to share the season series lead.
Home wins in a row for the Canucks over the Flames dating back to March 31, 2012 (1 this season).
Penalty minutes per game average for the Flames this season, fourth lowest in the NHL.
Wins in a row for the Canucks over the Flames dating back to April 6, 2013 (2 this season).