The Canucks close out their five-game home stand tonight hoping to salvage at least one victory when they host the red hot Montreal Canadiens.
There are no flying DeLoreans or flux capacitors involved but, just as Doc Brown and Marty McFly did last Wednesday when they arrived from 1985, the Canucks look to change the course of history tonight. History, after all, is what the Habs would make if they emerge from Rogers Arena with a victory as they would tie the NHL record for longest win streak to start a season at 10. If the Canucks really did have a time machine, however, they'd loved to go back to Saturday night and prevent themselves from suffering a fourth straight home loss after squandering a two-goal third period lead to fall 3-2 in overtime to Detroit.
Despite the disappointing loss on Saturday, the Canucks are expected to dress the same line-up in tonight's game making just a minor tweak up front by moving Virtanen to play with Sutter and Burrows, and shifting Hansen onto a line with Baertschi and Horvat. Ryan Miller, who was with the Sabres back in 2006.07 when they began the season going 10-0, is expected to start for in net Vancouver tonight despite missing practice yesterday. He will go up against BC-boy Carey Price at the other end. Tonight marks Brandon Prust's first game against the Habs since being dealt to Vancouver back on July 1.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
When you're on a roll like the Canadiens are, you're not looking to make many changes. That explains why the 18 skaters the Habs dressed back on opening night are the same that have suited up in every subsequent game since then. It's a familiar-looking roster as well if you followed the Habs last season when they won the Atlantic Division with 110 points and advanced to the Eastern Conference semi-final before bowing out to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs let a few veterans go in the off-season including the likes of former Canucks Manny Malhotra, Mike Weaver, and Bryan Allen, along with Sergei Gonchar, PA Parenteau, and Brandon Prust, the latter who was traded to Vancouver for Zack Kassian. While that may seem like a lot of turnover, the Habs' current 23-player active roster boasts just three players who did not appear in a game for them last season: forwards Paul Byron and Alexander Semin, and rookie goaltender Mike Condon. Of those aforementioned three, Byron, who was picked up on waivers just before the regular season, has yet to appear in a game.
The familiarity among the Habs players might be why they're playing like they're in mid-season form already. Their top-nine forwards, for the most part, have all chipped in routinely on offence. In fact, every forward that has played a game for them this season has recorded at least one point. On the back end, their top-pairing of Markov and Subban have picked up right where they left off in terms of point production and have already combined for 20 points in nine games played (they combined for 110 last season). When you talk about the engine that drives the Habs, however, you look to Carey Price. The man with likely the biggest trophy cabinet in North America – he added four new awards to his collection last season after winning the Hart, Ted Lindsay, Vezina, and Jennings – has been lights out to start the season posting a 1.29 GAA and .961 save percentage with two shutouts while winning all seven of his starts. He did, however, allow a season-high three goals on Saturday against the Maple Leafs although his team will probably cut his some slack considering he also made a season-high 49 saves in that outing.
Keys to the Game
Spoil history. It's not like the Canucks need any added motivation tonight, but being the first team this season to knock off the Habs would make for some nice bragging rights not to mention provide a huge confidence boost. There's no reason the Canucks shouldn't be fired up for this one.
Crack Carey. Carey Price is all-world right now and is stopping just about everything he sees but the more shots he faces the better chance something squeaks by. Toronto managed three on him on Saturday after testing him a season-high 52 times. Vancouver needs to throw anything and everything they can on net.
Ignore the streak. It's easy to get caught up in talk of streaks and records especially if they're historic ones. The Habs are undoubtedly aware of what's at stake tonight, but they can't get too caught up in it. They just have to play their game.
Canucks Game Preview
By the Numbers
First period goals allowed by Montreal this season in nine games played.
Teams in NHL history to start a season 10-0: Maple Leafs (1993.94) & Buffalo Sabres (2006.07).
Straight games without a 3rd period goal for the Canucks (out-scored 4-0).
Straight personal wins for Habs goalie Carey Price, tied for his career-high.
Straight regulation wins to start the season for the Habs, a new NHL record.
Straight games without a regulation loss for the Habs in head-to-head versus Canucks (7-0-2) dating back to February 2, 2010.