"We need the win. We have to figure out a way to put together another solid game."— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 15, 2016
The Canucks look to bounce back from Saturday's disappointing home loss when they take on the Minnesota Wild and their debuting head coach, John Torchetti.
Something's got to give tonight when the Canucks and Wild hook up and for one team by the end of the night that will come as welcome relief. While Vancouver looks to put an end to a four-game skid on home ice, the Wild are hoping their new interim head coach can help them snap their eight-game losing streak. Both teams sit tied in the standings with 56 points in 55 games which isn't a good thing considering both are sitting five points outside the playoff picture.
Vancouver could be without a couple of key players in Bo Horvat and Dan Hamhuis, both of whom were absent from practice yesterday. Recently-recalled forward Alex Friesen could become the eighth player to make his NHL debut for the Canucks tonight. Jacob Markstrom will get the start tonight and look to extend his personal four-game win streak.
Puck drop at 7 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
Keys to the Game
Be more desperate. As far as the playoff picture is concerned, both the Canucks and Wild have their backs against the wall and this game could very well determine which of these two teams has a realistic shot at making it considering both are fighting for the same spot. So...who wants it more?
Radim redeems. With two goals so far in the season series, Radim Vrbata is as hot as any Canuck against the Wild.He snapped a season-high six-game point drought against the Leafs so perhaps that can be the start of another mini-streak that he's been known to put up this season.
Torch sparks. Teams often get a lift whenever a new coach takes over even when they've been as bad as the Wild have been lately. With a new voice behind the bench, expect the Wild to come out strong for the new guy in charge.
By the Numbers
Second-period goal-differential for the Wild in six games since the All-Star break (4 goals for, 14 against).
Points needed by Minnesota's Zach Parise to reach 600 for his NHL career.
Game road losing streak for the Wild entering play tonight (1 road win in last 6).
Game home winless streak for the Canucks entering play tonight (season high is five from Oct. 10-24).
Game personal winless streak (0-8-1) for Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk dating back to January 12.
Games of NHL head coaching experience for new Wild interim coach John Torchetti. He has a 15-19-7 career record (FLA, LAK).
- Back on January 9, the Wild sat in the first Wildcard playoff spot, seven points up on the playoff cut-off line, and 10 points clear of Vancouver. They begin play today five points back of a Wildcard spot and tied with the Canucks in the standings.
- Minnesota's eight-game winless skid ultimately cost head coach Mike Yeo his job and Yeo may be wondering why his defence abandoned him during that stretch. Minnesota has allowed four-or-more goals in seven of their last eight games giving up a combined 30 goals which averages 3.75 goals against per game. Before this recent swoon, they had been averaging 2.30 goals against per game for the season.
- It hasn't been all bad for the Wild lately. At least their power play has been pretty consistent. It failed to capitalize on Saturday against Boston but it did score in a season-high five straight games prior to that. Minnesota's power play is 7-for-34 (20.6 percent) over its last nine outings.
- Mikko Koivu leads the Wild in scoring but they need him to be a lot more consistent and frequent with his production. In his last 20 games, he has just one goal and six points. Another guy that needs to find his game is Jason Pominville. The 33-year-old had a respectable 18 goals and 54 points last season, but has just six goals and 21 points so far this season and just two points (1-1-2) in his last 22 outings. Koivu remains the team's top-line centre, while Pominville has been relegated to fourth-line duties.
- The Wild have opened the scoring in both head-to-head games against the Canucks this season. They'll want to continue that trend because they're not a team that plays catch-up very well. They have a league-low three wins this season when giving up the first goal (3-16-6).
- John Torchetti's promotion is certainly is based more than his body of work from this season in the AHL. Minnesota's farm team, the Iowa Wild, is suffering through an even tougher season than its parent club. They sit second last in the AHL's Central Division and have been out-scored 151-114 through 50 games played.