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Game 69: Canucks vs Avalanche (3.16.16)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
UPDATES:

The Canucks conclude their four-game home stand tonight when they face the Colorado Avalanche for the third and final time this season.

As far as crucial games go, there's not a bigger one than tonight for the Canucks if they want to keep their already-slim playoff hopes alive. The Avs are one of the teams are trying to leapfrog into a post-season position and they sit eight points ahead of the Canucks in the standings but Vancouver holds two games in hand. Vancouver has won the first two head-to-head games this season against Colorado and is looking to sweep the season series against the Avalanche for the first time since the 2011.12 season when they posted an impressive six wins that year over their former Northwest Division rival.

Expect a much-different looking line-up for the Canucks tonight after several players went down with injury in Monday's 5-2 loss to the Jets. Look for Nikita Tryamkin to make his NHL debut on the back-end, and for Alex Burrows to return after missing Monday's game with a foot injury. Brendan Gaunce and Andrey Pedan could potentially also get into the line-up as well after they were recalled from Utica (AHL) yesterday. Ryan Miller will get the call between the pipes and is expected to go up against Semyon Varlamov for Colorado.

Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

27-29-12 35-31-4

2015.16 Season Series

2-0-0 0-2-0

All-Time Series

68-61-25 71-60-23

Last 10 games

5-5-0 5-5-0

Last 10 head-to-head

5-4-1 5-5-0
 

Keys to the Game

Big guy makes a big impact. Plenty of eyes will be on 6'7", 228 lbs. hulking defenceman Nikita Tryamkin who makes his NHL debut tonight. The hype machine has been high on him and his presence ought to give the banged-up Canucks a boost especially if he can display some physical play early on.

Twin magic. They may not have Jannik Hansen flanking them tonight, but that shouldn't stop Daniel and Henrik from working their magic like they did the last time out against the Avs when they combined for seven assists helping Hansen to a two-goal night.

Varly gives them a chance. To say Semyon Varlamov could be better in the season series is an understatement. He's given up seven goals on 56 shots for a save percentage of .875 over two starts. He has to be the difference-maker for the right reasons this time around for his team.


Canucks Game Preview

By the Numbers

3

Game point streak for Colorado's Matt Duchene (2-3-5) entering play tonight.

3

Wins for Ryan Miller in his last 4 games against the Avs dating back to 2014. He was winless in his first 6 career games vs COL prior to the recent stretch.

4

Points, all assists, for Henrik Sedin against the Avs in the season series leading all players.

+6

Goal-differential in favour of the Canucks after two games played against the Avs this season (8 goals for, 2 goals against).

9th

Player to make his NHL debut with the Canucks this season when Nikita Tryamkin suits up tonight.

25

Game goal drought snapped by Jared McCann with his goal on Monday against the Jets.


Scouting Report

  • Since their 5-1 loss to the Canucks in their last visit to Rogers Arena back on February 21, the Avalanche have been playing .500 hockey posting a 4-4-0 record. That's fine unless you're trying to chase down a playoff spot from the outside. As a result, the Avs sit one point back of the Wild for the final Wildcard playoff spot to begin the day.
  • The Avs' recent road woes may prove to be their downfall when it comes to making the playoffs. They've lost four of their last five road games (out-scored 20-10 in those games) and have a road-heavy schedule down the stretch with seven of their remaining 12 games including tonight being in enemy territory.
  • The Avs have not been a poor road team all season long. In fact, their 18 victories away from home are among the league leaders. Where they have struggled all year long on the road has been on special teams. Their power play drops from 22.4 percent at home to 16.5 percent on the road, while their penalty kill dips from 84.1 percent at home to 79.1 percent away from home. They've struggled on special teams against the Canucks this season going 0-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill over two games played.
  • One player who is a fixture on both the power play as well as on the penalty kill is team captain Gabriel Landeskog, who will be unavailable for the Avs tonight. He's in the middle of serving a three-game suspension for his hit on Anaheim's Simon Despres a week ago.
  • One familiar face that the Canucks will see for the first time in an Avs uniform – and someone Colorado is counting on to contribute offensively in the absence of Landeskog – is Shawn Matthias. Matthias has three goals and four points in eight games since coming over via trade from Toronto. He's been starting to get into a groove with his new team. Three of his points have come in the last four games.
  • Mikkel Boedker is another player that the Avs will be counting on to provide some much needed offence. Boedker was part of perhaps the biggest deal on trade deadline day moving from Arizona to Colorado. He's been skating on a line alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Blake Comeau – a trio that has stayed intact so far despite the absence of Landeskog. Boedker, who has one goal and three points in six games since joining the Avs, has faced the Canucks three times this season as a Coyote but has managed just a single assist.
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