Tonight’s matchup at Rogers Arena pits the Canucks (38-14-9), the league’s best home team against its worst road team, the St Louis Blues (27-23-9). The Canucks are 21-5-5 at home and have not lost back to back regulation games in over three months. Conversely, the Blues are coming off back to back losses and are 9-13-5 on the road.
The Blues sit in 13th place in the Western Conference, but with the return of some key players from IR, and the acquisitions of Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart from the Avalanche last week, the Canucks know this team is better than their record indicates.
“That’s a very good hockey team, they’ve had a lot of injuries this year, they are probably close to the tops in the league in games missed, but they’re still right in it, I don’t think we can look at them and say they are a 13th place team,” said defenseman Keith Ballard.
In three games since being traded to the Blues, Christ Stewart has three goals.
“He makes them bigger up front, they were a very big team before they got him, and now they are even bigger and he fits really well into their forward group,” said Christian Ehrhoff.
The Canucks powerplay is tops in the league at 25.2 percent, while the Blues penalty kill is 20th overall, but the Blues have given the Canucks fits this year, killing off 10 of 11 Vancouver powerplays.
“They play the same on the PK as they do five on five, they work hard, they block shots, so, we’re going to start with a shot, and take what they give us,” said Daniel Sedin.
Only one lineup change tonight as Corey Schneider gets the call in net. It’s his first ever game against the Blues.
“They work hard and they have some skilled guys up front, so, for whatever reason we’ve had some trouble with them, hopefully in our building, after a tough loss (against Montreal) we can get back and play our game,” said Schneider.
Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak will miss his fourth straight game due to hand injury. Ty Conklin will get the start. He is 3-3-0 with a 2.82 goals-against average in his career against Vancouver.
The Canucks lead the NHL with 85 points, five more than the Red Wings in the Western Conference, and are one up on the Flyers, who host the Islanders tonight. Vancouver has alternated wins and losses over its last eight games coming off a 3-2 loss in their last game against Montreal.
Daniel Sedin continues to improve his chances of winning the Art Ross trophy this season. He has three goals and two assists in his past three games and now sits one point ahead of Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead.