For the first time in team history, the Canucks will play in Brooklyn when they visit the New York Islanders and their brand new digs at the Barclays Center.
The Canucks will be in unfamiliar surroundings this afternoon as they play their first-ever game at the Barclays Center, but what they really want to do is to venture down the road less traveled when it comes to success away from home. Coming off a 3-2 overtime win on Friday in Carolina, Vancouver has an opportunity to record consecutive road wins if they can pull out a victory today in Brooklyn. The Canucks have not strung together back-to-back road wins since their three-game win streak way back in early October. The Isles, meanwhile, are looking to sweep their three-game home stand today after previously knocking off the Blue Jackets and their archrival, the Rangers.
The Canucks had a team day off yesterday and opted to take in the sights in the Big Apple instead. What that means is the burning questions regarding their line-up – most notably the injury statuses of Luca Sbisa and Jannik Hansen, as well as whether Ryan Miller or Jacob Markstrom gets the start in net – won't be answered until closer to game time as the team is also not scheduled to hold a game day skate. Islanders coach Jack Capuano has split playing time between his two netminders – Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss – fairly evenly this season. Halak started the last game for the Isles and posted a 3-1 win over the Rangers so he's the odds-on favourite to get the call today.
Puck drop at 1 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
A 100-point season is nothing to scoff at and while the Islanders weren't able to parlay their successful regular season campaign a year ago into more than just a first round exit, they obviously felt good enough about their group to keep the majority of their core intact. The off-season saw the Islanders make one significant move which was to ship Michael Grabner to the Maple Leafs. Grabner's departure wasn't exactly a big loss considering the former Canuck missed a good chunk of last season due to injury and only managed to amass 13 points on a team that finished with the fourth-most goals in the league. Had they kept Grabner, however, perhaps their goals-for this season would not have dipped quite as much. The Isles find themselves still among the top half of the league but averaging just 2.70 goals per game, down from last season's 2.99. The biggest difference-maker, however, can be traced to one player – John Tavares.
A season ago, Tavares was on an island of his own finishing with 86 points, 35 more than second-place Kyle Okposo. (Tavares lost the league scoring title on the last day of the season). This season the scoring has been much more balanced with the Isles having six players with 20-or-more points (Okposo leads the way with 33). Where the Isles have really improved this season, however, is on the defensive side. They've seen their goals against average drop from 2.73 last season to 2.46 this season. A big part of that is due to their much-improved penalty kill which ranks near the top of the league at 87.3 percent effectiveness, a significant difference compared to last season when they finished 26th overall at 78 percent.
Keys to the Game
Mo' Bo. Remember that sophomore slump Bo Horvat was suffering through? Of course not. That's all in the past now for one of the hottest player not only on the Canucks but in the league. If you're the Canucks, you get the puck to Bo and let him do the rest.
Spend some time at the other end. As nice as it was to marvel over Markstrom's performance on Friday, the Canucks can't get into the habit of hoping their goaltender can steal a win every time out. Vancouver has given up 40 shots in back-to-back games. They better not aim for the hat trick today.
Tavares turns back the clock. It's safe to suggest this season has been a struggle personally for John Tavares, who is on pace to finish with his lowest point totals in a non-lockout year since his rookie campaign. He's been a streaky scorer this season and the Isles hope he can build on the two-game assist streak he brings into today's contest.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Islander player selected to the All-Star Game: John Tavares (3rd straight ASG selection).
Canucks who have played in all 45 games this season to date: D. Sedin & Horvat. (Dorsett missed his first on Friday).
Straight road games against the Islanders without a regulation loss for the Canucks (4-0-2).
Points for Bo Horvat (6-3-9) during his six-game point streak.
Percent shooting percentage for Bo Horvat during his point streak (6 goals on 18 shots). His shooting percentage prior to the streak was 3.6 percent (2 goals on 56 shots).
Hits for Matt Martin, leading the NHL. He has led the league in hits the last four seasons.