The Canucks look to clinch their season series against the defending Stanley Cup champion, Chicago Blackhawks, with a win tonight at Rogers Arena.
For the second time in the last three years, the Canucks' season will come to an end after 82 games played. But with eight games remaining between now and the off-season, don't think there's nothing left on the line. In recent days, both team captain Henrik Sedin and his brother, Daniel, have spoken on the need to have pride in their play. With 'Sedinery' being honoured tonight, the players had better be ready to compete even if a playoff berth won't be awaiting them in two weeks time.
While this contest might not be that significant for the Blackhawks in the grand scheme of things, the two points are still critical for them in their attempt to fend off the Predators to remain in a top-three spot in the Central Division and to get a more favourable first round playoff match-up. Thanks to their 4-1 win last night in Calgary, they begin the day sitting two points ahead of Nashville in the standings. Chicago can officially clinch a playoff berth with a point earned tonight.
Puck drop at 5 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
Old rivalries die hard. The heyday of the Vancouver-Chicago rivalry is clearly in the rearview mirror. But they are still the Blackhawks, and they are the defending Cup champions. If that's not enough to get the competitive juices flowing, then nothing is.
Shoot the puck. The Canucks might not be able to score these days, but at least they can act like they're trying. Managing a season-low 15 shots on goal on Friday is simply not acceptable. The Blackhawks are a team known for giving up plenty of opposition shots. There's no excuse for the Canucks not to at least get a few pucks on net tonight.
Watch the twins. The Blackhawks aren't exactly going to be intimidated by the Canucks' offensive prowess but it's worth noting the last time they were in this building the Sedins combined for nine points including a hat trick for Daniel. The Blackhawks won't want to see a repeat of that tonight.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Ryan Miller's save percentage during his three-game winless streak (108 saves on 115 shots). His season average is .917.
Goal scored by the Canucks in the last six games not involving the Sedins. Vancouver has just three goals in total during that stretch.
Slovaks to record 500 NHL goals (Stan Mikita, Peter Bondra). Marian Hossa has 498.
Points for Henrik Sedin in the season series against the Blackhawks (1-4-5), leading all players.
Time this season the Blackhawks will play on no days rest. They are 6-5-1 this season.
Minutes and 21 seconds of consecutive game play without a goal scored by the Canucks entering play tonight.
- Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was widely lauded for his work in and around the trade deadline. Already a talent-laden team, Bowman added the likes of Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, Tomas Fleischmann, and Christian Ehrhoff. The results have been mixed though. Ladd has been featured on the top line while Fleischmann has provided some depth scoring on the third unit, but the contributions from Weise and Ehrhoff have been limited thus far.
- Despite how daunting the Blackhawks look on paper, it hasn't been smooth sailing lately for the defending champion. While some may point out their recent struggles as perhaps having to do with changing their team chemistry with the newcomers, the fact is their issues began well before the newcomers joined. Chicago is 7-9-3 in their last 19 outings dating back to February 9. Of those seven wins, only two (NYR & WSH) have come against teams currently occupying a playoff spot.
- When you look at the Blackhawks on paper, you can argue they're a team that can score on you with all four lines, not to mention boasting one of the most intimidating offensive blue-lines in the league. With that said, in their last 19 games, they've scored a total of 50 goals. That's not a bad statistic but it doesn't disclose the fact a good number of those goals have come in a small handful of games. They've been held to two-or-fewer goals in 12 of those outings.
- There's no shortage of players who need to step up their contributions for the Blackhawks to get them out of this funk but the two everyone will point to are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kane, the league's leading point scorer, has just four points (1-3-4) in his last eight outings and his assist last night came on an empty-net goal. Toews, meanwhile, is point-less in three straight games and has just two points in his last seven outings. One player who is doing his fair share lately is Andrew Shaw, who brings a three-game goal streak into tonight's contest.
- The Blackhawks might feel a bit more like themselves when they get netminder Corey Crawford back from injury. In his absence, Scott Darling has started five straight games going 2-2-1 and is coming off perhaps his best performance of the season in a 31-save effort last night. Darling's back-up is Michael Leighton, who guided the Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final appearance against the Blackhawks way back in 2010. Leighton has enjoyed a strong AHL campaign with Rockford this season. If he gets the call to start tonight, it would be his first NHL start since January 27, 2013.
- So far this season the Blackhawks have feasted on Pacific Division teams going 13-3-3 in those games. Against their own division? Not so much. They're just 12-11-3 against Central Division opponents. One of their three regulation losses against the Pacific Division came against the Canucks way back on November 21.