Hamhuis-Bartkowski— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 21, 2016
The Canucks hope to begin a five-game home stand on a winning note tonight when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche to Rogers Arena.
Even the most ardent optimist will admit that, after four consecutive losses by the same 5-2 score, the Canucks' hopes of chasing down a playoff spot are not good. That being said, the Canucks need to forget the things that may or may not be out of their control right now and focus on just winning one game as a point of pride. They certainly owe it to each other inside the locker room, as well as their home fans, to put forward a better effort than what they have lately especially over the last three home outings.
The Canucks did not practice yesterday but, with their struggles lately, don't be surprised if Coach Desjardins continues to tinker with his line-up in an effort to bump the slump. Look for Ryan Miller to be back between the pipes tonight going up against Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, 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
Keep starting strong. If there's been one positive for the Canucks during their six-game swoon, it's that they've still managed to have relatively good first periods. They've only trailed after 20 minutes on one occasion (versus Minnesota). They just need to find a way to carry momentum over to the following periods.
Don't let it snowball.The biggest issue with the Canucks right now is that giving up even just a single goal seems to shatter their confidence. Giving up goals is an unavoidable part of hockey, but they can't let one goal turn into two or three more like they have in recent outings.
Keep the Canucks' sticks quiet. he Avs are the league-leader in blocked shots despite also being one of the league leader in shots allowed. That said, the Canucks have been out-shot in six straight and the Avs will want to keep things that way. The Canucks have a hard enough time scoring as it is.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Avalanche this season playing on zero days rest (6-2-0).
Straight head-to-head losses for the Canucks to the Avs at Rogers Arena (last home win: Nov. 4, 2014).
Points each for Bo Horvat and Ben Hutton in Vancouver's 3-1 win over Colorado on Feb. 9, leading all players.
Games remaining, including tonight, for the Canucks before the NHL Trade Deadline. (Colorado has 4).
Wins for the Canucks against Central Division teams this season. Only the Oilers (2) have fewer among Western Conference teams.
Points behind the Avs in the standings are the Canucks. The gap was just 4 points on Feb. 9 after the Canucks beat the Avs.
- The Avs were not particularly impressive when they fell 3-1 to the Canucks on February 9 but they've bounced back nicely since that loss which, at the time, was their fourth in a row. They've won four of their last five games including outlasting the Oilers by a 3-2 score last night. All four of their recent wins have been one-goal games, including one coming by a shootout.
- Getting Semyon Varlamov back to playing at his best will be the difference between a playoff spot and an early summer. He's been pretty solid since that loss to the Canucks. If you take out his Valentine's Day debacle in Buffalo where he was pulled after allowing two goals on two shots in less than five minutes, he's won his last three complete games in a row stopping 101 of 108 shots for a save percentage of .935.
- He may be nearing his 39th birthday but Jarome Iginla is still going strong. The former Flames captain has four goals and 10 points in his last eight outings and brings a three-game point streak into tonight's contest.
- When the Canucks met the Avs 12 days ago, because of Colorado's struggles at the time, the Avs moved Iginla from their top-line. He's since back on the number one unit and deservedly so with Mikhail Grigorenko and Matt Duchene.
- Keep an eye on the trio of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Alex Tanguay as well. Landeskog was recently moved to that unit in an effort to get him back on track offensively. The Avalanche captain has just three assists in his last eight outings but does have a two-game point streak going.
- The Avs are a team that absolutely loves to activate their defence in the attack and they've had great success doing so. Tyson Barrie will be a blue-liner the Canucks have to pay particular attention to. He has seven points in his last five outings, including a two-goal and three-point effort last night in Edmonton.