The Canucks continue the quest for their elusive first home win tonight when they welcome the Detroit Red Wings to Rogers Arena.
At the outset of this five-game home stand, it looked like the Canucks had a prime opportunity to create some distance in the standings between them and their divisional rivals. Three losses in a row later, Vancouver's focus shifts to trying not to lose too much ground by salvaging a couple of wins in these next two outings starting with tonight against the Red Wings. Thursday's loss to the Capitals might have been the most disappointing of the home stand so far as they squandered a third period lead to fall 3-2.
If there was an ideal opponent for the Canucks to finally bump their slump against, it would be the struggling Red Wings. Detroit comes into tonight's game having lost four in a row including falling 3-2 in overtime last night to Calgary. While it's not exactly pulling out all stops just yet, the Canucks will make a rare change to their back end tonight with Yannick Weber dressing in place of Matt Bartkowski. Forward Derek Dorsett is questionable for tonight's game after sitting out practice yesterday.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on CBC, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
For the first time since the 2003.04 season, the Red Wings have someone other than Mike Babcock as their leading man behind the bench with Jeff Blashill taking over the reins from the departed Babcock who left for greener pastures in Toronto. Blashill is not the only reason why the Red Wings might look different compared to last year. While the core of the team remains very much intact, Detroit has undergone a bit of a youth movement. Veterans such as Stephen Weiss, Marek Zidlicky, Erik Cole, and Dan Cleary are no longer around and in their place are newer faces such as Teemu Pulkkinen, Landon Ferraro, and Dylan Larkin. Larkin, in particular, has been impressive to kick off his NHL career. The 19-year-old became the first teenager to suit up on opening night for the Red Wings since Mike Sillinger (1990.91), the first teenager to play for Detroit since Jiri Hudler (2003.04), and the first teenager to score in his NHL debut for Detroit since Steve Yzerman in 1983. His five-game point streak to start a season also set a franchise record for longest point streak to begin a season. Larkin has been mostly playing on the top line alongside Henrik Zetterberg which would probably explain why he's had such a red hot start to his young career.
Of course, Larkin being on the first line is also a result of some missing bodies. Detroit is currently without Pavel Datsyuk, who is recovering from off-season ankle surgery. While the Red Wings expect to have Datsyuk back in short order, the same can't be said for another one of their key veterans in Johan Franzen. Franzen, who missed all-but-33 games last season mostly due to concussion issues, had his concussion symptoms reoccur and has been sidelined once again. Although Detroit does seem to be trending towards younger players, they did bring in a couple of established veterans who, if they can play to their potential, could provide a boost to an offence that was among the best in the league last season. Brad Richards, fresh off a Stanley Cup win in Chicago, along with offensive defenceman Mike Green, formerly of the Capitals, are newcomers wearing the winged wheel for the first time. Neither has managed to find the scoresheet with any regularity so far but Detroit is hoping the offence will come once they get settled into the system.
Keys to the Game
The bottom-9 has to produce. Coach Desjardins has admitted his reluctance to reunite the Sedins and Vrbata was because he didn't want to be a one-line team. Vrbata and the twins delivered on Thursday night but the onus is on the rest of the forwards to produce as well so opponents have to worry about something other than shutting down the Sedin line.
Build on Thursday's PP success. After bumping their long man-advantage slump against the Capitals, Vancouver's power play figures to get another boost with the return of Weber to the line-up. Weber was tied for second on the team with five power play goals last season and provides a right-shot, one-timer option that has sorely been missing for most of this season.
Get the early jump. Visiting teams have gotten off to strong starts in every game so far this season at Rogers Arena and the Red Wings will want to follow that same formula to success. Considering all three of Detroit's wins this season have come when they've opened the scoring, the opening goal tonight will be a critical one.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
Goals needed by Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg to reach 300 in the NHL.
Time on this home stand the Canucks face a team that played the night before (0-1-1).
Time this season the Red Wings have played on zero days rest (1-1-0).
Rookies potentially all dressing in tonight's game (Virtanen, McCann, Hutton, Larkin, Ferraro).
Straight seasons the Red Wings have made the playoffs, the longest active streak in North American pro sports (next longest: 18 seasons, San Antonio Spurs, NBA).
Career games played in for Henrik Sedin after he suits up tonight. Congrats Hank!