One losing streak will come to an end tonight at Rogers Arena when the Canucks host the St. Louis Blues.
It was only a week ago that the idea of making the playoffs suddenly seemed plausible again with the Canucks coming off back-to-back wins while still holding a number of games-in-hand on the teams they are chasing in the standings. Three straight losses later and those thoughts have faded away in a hurry. With that said, coming off a disappointing shutout loss last night in Edmonton, expect the Canucks to be an ornery bunch and intent on avoiding a fourth straight loss which would equal their season-high when they host the Blues.
The Blues are in a funk of their own as they bring a two-game losing streak into play tonight. Despite their mini-slump, they're still very much in the conversation to win their division, not to mention the Conference. They begin play today sitting two points behind the Conference-leading Dallas Stars. Ryan Miller will get the start in net for the Canucks, while Brian Elliott returns from injury to try and help the Blues knock off the Canucks for the second time this season. St. Louis defeated Vancouver 4-3 at Rogers Arena back on October 16.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC/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
Pressure's on them. The Blues are in the midst of a first-place chase and with that comes plenty of pressure to perform. They haven't done so well lately and may be gripping their sticks a bit tight right now. Getting some early success might just frustrate the Blues and lead them to start thinking negative thoughts.
Test Elliott. Any time you have a goalie coming back from an extended layoff, you can expect some rust. The Canucks will want to test the returning Elliott early and often and perhaps see if they can figure out exactly what his lower-body injury was.
Kill or be killed. The Blues have been one of the best penalty killing teams all season long but it seems they've forgotten how to lately. They've given up power play goals in a season-high five straight games killing off just 11 of 19 man-advantages (57.9 percent) during that stretch. Fixing this aspect of their game will go a long way to fixing their overall woes.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Goal needed by Vladimir Tarasenko to become the 28th Blue to reach 100 career goals.
Points for currently-injured forward Brandon Sutter against the Blues back on October 16, leading all players in the season series.
Straight games with a point for Jaden Schwartz (1-5-6), longest active streak on the Blues.
Straight games at Rogers Arena the Blues have not given up a power play goal (16-for-16). Last PPGs surrendered on Feb. 17, 2013 (Kesler/Raymond).
Career games for Ryan Miller after he suits up tonight. 90 of his career games have come as a Canuck, while 19 have come as a Blue.
Career wins for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock entering play tonight.
- With 10 games left in the regular season and a chance at the Western Conference regular season title, the Blues could not have picked a worst time to go into a mini-slump. They come into tonight's game having lost back-to-back games to a pair of non-playoff contenders in the Flames and Oilers while allowing a whopping 13 goals against in the process.
- The 13 goals against over two games is certainly keeping the defensive-minded Coach Hitchcock up at night but if it's there's any consolation, it's not the first time the Blues have gone through a stretch like this. They had a run of three straight losses from February 22 to 27 where they gave up 13 combined goals. They responded by posting six straight wins allowing just 15 combined goals.
- Perhaps one reason why the Blues have been having some issues with giving up goals lately has to do with their overreliance on netminder Jake Allen in the absence of Brian Elliott. Allen was just coming back from a 17-game absence due to an injury right around the time Elliott left the line-up and has started eight straight games since Elliott went down. Despite missing a large amount of games himself, Allen has already surpassed his previous career-high of games played in a single season with 44 (previous high was 37 set last season).
- With all that said, the Canucks won't see Allen in net tonight barring a change of plans. Instead, they'll face a returning Brian Elliott. Elliott went 12-3-2 (with one no decision) just prior to going down with injury and will be looking to pick up right where he left off.
- While the goals against have been cause for concern, the Blues have to love the way their offence is rolling right now. They've scored 18 combined goals over their last four outings although, with the exception of the Ducks, they didn't exactly face teams known for being defensive juggernauts with their other opponents being the Stars, Flames, and Oilers.
- The player leading the offensive charge for the Blues not just lately but all season long is Vladimir Tarasenko. The reigning NHL's First Star of the Week has eight points (4-4-8) in his last seven outings coming into tonight's contest. Look for him on a line with Jaden Schwartz and Jori Lehtera.