The Canucks reach the midway mark of pre-season tonight when they host the Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena.
As easy as it is to say that pre-season games are meaningless, that is not entirely true. Wins and points may not count for anything, but there is certainly some value when it comes to building confidence and momentum heading into the regular season. With that said, the last thing the Canucks want is to go 0-for-2 against the Flames in pre-season especially considering the fact that Calgary will provide the opposition for the first two games of the regular season. The Canucks started strong last night with Jake Virtanen opening the scoring on a power play before the Flames answered with four in a row to take the game by a score of 4-1. For good measure, Calgary also scored in the mandatory 3-on-3 overtime session.
Vancouver's lineup tonight is expected to feature numerous veterans including birthday boys Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, and Radim Vrbata up front, and Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler on the back end. Ryan Miller will also likely see action in tonight's contest. For the Flames, just by process of elimination, it's expected that Karri Ramo will get the call for tonight's game after Joni Ortio started on Thursday and Jonas Hiller was in net last night.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
2014.15 Season Series
2014.15 Regular Season Record
2nd Pacific 3rd Pacific
All-Time Series (Regular Season)
Playing their third game in three nights, don't expect the Flames to bring many of their top guns to Rogers Arena tonight. That means many of their veterans that took part in last night's contest are likely to be left at home. In addition to the veterans expected to sit out, two of their top youngsters – rookie Sam Bennett and sophomore Micheal Ferland - are also likely to be grounded as both played in Denver on Thursday and last night in Calgary. So what can we expected to see tonight from the Flames? Well, one thing for sure is that there is an opportunity on the blue-line for a job due to the injury to TJ Brodie and the auditions will continue tonight.
Former Avs defenceman Ryan Wilson is one of those challenging for that spot. He's currently attending Flames camp on a pro tryout. Wilson's career has been hampered by injuries particularly over the past three seasons which has resulted in him appearing in just 43 regular season games in the NHL during that time as a result, including just three last year. Tyler Wotherspoon is another intriguing name and perhaps someone ready to make the jump to NHL for good. The Burnaby-native has appeared in just 15 career regular season NHL games but did suit up for six playoff contests last year for Calgary. Calgary dressed essentially their top-five blue-liners last night, minus the injured Brodie, so they could be going with a fairly inexperienced back end tonight which means there will be plenty of opportunities for the Flames' brass to see who can step up and earn an opening night job.
Keys to the Game
Alex be great. The odds of Alex Grenier being on the opening night roster, let alone lining up on the Sedin line, might not be in his favour but tonight he gets an opportunity to play with the twins. A good showing for him in this position and he might just make it a little more difficult for the decision makers.
Take advantage of one last chance. With the Utica Comets set to head for France, this is likely the last pre-season game for many of the players tabbed to join the AHL club. Those bubble players who wish to extend their stay in Vancouver will need to show something tonight.
Prepare for a motivated opponent. Pre-season might not count in the standings but the Canucks can't be a happy group after back-to-back losses. Calgary needs to be prepared for a more veteran-laden Vancouver squad that perhaps has a point to prove.
By the Numbers
Vancouver's all-time pre-season win percentage (160-155-33).
Power plays for the Flames last night. The Canucks had 2.
Years old are Daniel and Henrik Sedin today. Happy Birthday!
Players remaining on the Canucks training camp roster (10 D, 23 F, 4 G).
Points for Alex Grenier with the Utica Comets last season, a career-high.
Players remaining on the Flames training camp roster (17 D, 26 F, 4 G).