The Vancouver Canucks host the St. Louis Blues tonight in the first of two straight home games, and the final game before Monday's trade deadline. Game start time is 6:30 pm PST.
With trade deadline day looming, tonight could mark the last game in a Canucks uniform for some. While the players may have that in the back of their minds, their main focus will be on rebounding from one of their worst losses of the season three nights ago when they were defeated 6-3 by the Sabres. Despite that setback, the Canucks begin today sitting in second place in the Pacific Division with a three-point lead over the third-place Kings although that lead could dwindle down to a single point by the time the Canucks actually hit the ice tonight.
There could be some reinforcements on the way for the Canucks. Christopher Tanev and Frank Corrado returned to practice yesterday although it appears only Corrado is ready to make his comeback into the lineup. He hasn't played since sustaining an upper-body injury on February 1. Look for Eddie Lack to get the start again tonight as he tries to build on his 3-0-0 career record against the Blues, while his team looks to extend their win streak over St. Louis to five games. Vancouver beat St. Louis 4-1 back on October 23 at the Scottrade Center.
Puck drop at 6:30 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
At a time when teams are looking to solidify their playoff spot, you wouldn't think most clubs would appreciate being away from home. Not the Blues, however. They've been red hot on the road lately as they come into tonight's contest having won their last four road games in a row, including the first two games of their current five-game swing, and nine of their last 10 away from the Scottrade Center overall. That's in stark contrast to their recent home woes that has seen them lose four of their last six in front of their fans. Perhaps it's the fact they're more willing to play a simple game on the road that has led to their success particularly on the defensive side. In their last 10 road games they've only allowed a total of 20 goals against, seven of which came in their lone loss in the bunch.
One thing that they haven't quite been able to rediscover despite getting back out onto the road is their offence. They've been held to two-or-fewer goals in four straight outings and in six of their last seven games overall. The power play has also dried up connecting just once in the last seven outings (1-for-13). Paul Stastny, who was out with injury when the Canucks met the Blues earlier this season, has been on a mini hot streak with three points in his last two games. Of course, when you talk about offensive studs on the Blues, you have talk about Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko, who is the youngest Blue since Brendan Shanahan (1991.92) to amass 30 goals and 60 points in a season, has been held point-less in consecutive games for the first time since mid-January.
Keys to the Game
Take control. Against the Sabres, the Canucks spent way too much time chasing and stuck in their own zone. The Blues have had trouble putting pucks in net lately so the Canucks have to be a bit more aggressive, trust their netminding and keep the puck away from the Blues as much as possible. St. Louis will also be the tired team which should play into Vancouver's favour.
Eliminate the mistakes. If the Canucks felt they gave away Thursday's game in Buffalo, that's because they did. Although they were only charged with four giveaways, it was their mistakes in their own end that turned out to be their undoing in the third period. They can't hand the Blues the puck in the defensive zone and allow them chance after chance like they did for the Sabres.
Get in Eddie's head. The Blues have to know that the Canucks' interim number one netminder is still trying to come to grips with his new role. After a shaky outing in his last start, confidence may be a bit of an issue with Lack. The Blues, tired as they may be, need to find a way to test Eddie early and maybe rattle him a bit by sneaking a few quick ones in.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Blues this season when playing on zero days rest (5-5-0).
Career win percentage for Eddie Lack against the Blues (3-0-0). He has a 0.97 GAA and .960 save percentage with one shutout versus STL.
Canucks with 2 points each this season against the Blues: Bonino (1-1-2), Higgins (1-1-2) & Burrows (0-2-2).
Straight wins for the Canucks against the Blues dating back to October 25, 2013.
Game matching point streaks for Henrik (3-7-10) and Daniel Sedin (1-7-8).
Straight games without a regulation loss for the Canucks when facing the Blues dating back to January 12, 2012.