The last time the Canucks hosted a game on Super Bowl Sunday was back in 2003. The last time they won back-to-back games on home ice wasn't quite that long ago but it still seems like forever. Vancouver has a chance to do just that this afternoon with a win after they snapped a three-game home losing streak on Friday with a convincing 5-2 victory over the Sabres. The last time the Canucks earned consecutive home wins was January 3 and 6 when they knocked off the Red Wings and Islanders just prior to their three-game swoon.
Defenceman Adam Clendening, acquired in a trade on Thursday, will make his Canucks debut today. He'll see some time on the second-unit power play in addition to skating on a pairing with Luca Sbisa. Derek Dorsett, who missed Friday's game with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. Brad Richardson remains out with a foot injury. Vancouver did not indicate yesterday which netminder is expected to get the call to play.
Puck drop at 12 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Wild have had a disappointing season by their expectations after making it to the post-season a year ago as they come into today's contest sitting in third-last position in the Western Conference although they are still within striking distance of a post-season position. They've slowly been playing some better hockey of the last couple of weeks as they come into today's tilt with points in five of their last six outings (4-1-1) and were 1-0 winners over the Flames in their last outing on Thursday.
A big part of their recent turnaround has to do with the acquisition of goaltender Devan Dubnyk from Arizona. Dubnyk has a 4-1-0 record since joining the Wild which includes pitching a pair of shutouts. Dubnyk's strong play has allowed the Wild to recapture their identity as being a stingy defensive team. They've allowed just nine goals in six games played since acquiring Dubnyk for an average of 1.5 goals against per game. Prior to that, they had averaged over three goals against per game. Minnesota beat Vancouver in two of three meetings last season albeit both of their victories came via shootout. The Canucks actually out-scored the Wild 8-5 in the season series.
Keys to the Game
Show up. Afternoon games are hard to get up for at the best of times. Add in the fact that most of the sporting world is focused elsewhere today and it's easy to understand if motivation is lacking. But that goes for both teams. If the Canucks can manufacture intensity and show up ready to play, then they won't be fined…er, I mean, they'll be just fine.
Prepared to be peppered. Unlike previous Wild teams, this year's version has no difficulties getting shots on net (they average 32 per game). Vancouver will need to be prepared for a club that likes to put pucks on net whenever possible and do their best to limit shots from dangerous areas.
Parise runs wild. Aside from netminder Dubnyk, no Wild player has been a bigger part of the Minnesota's recent turnaround than their captain, Zach Parise, who has six goals and seven points in his last six outings. If he can continue his hot streak, it could be deflating to the Canucks' confidence.
By the Numbers
Time the Canucks will play on a Super Bowl Sunday which involves either the Seahawks or Patriots.
Average goals scored by the Canucks on Super Bowl Sunday (17 goals in eight games).
Average goals against for the Canucks on Super Bowl Sunday (29 goals allowed in eight games).
Noon faceoff time for today's game. #GoHawks
Time in Wild history they have played Calgary, Edmonton & Vancouver on the same road trip. They are looking to sweep for the second time in history.
Average time on ice for Ryan Suter, leading all NHL players this season. He is questionable for today's game.