On The Road Again: Canucks-Wild Preview

GAME TIME: 5:00 PST

TV: CITY TV (Yay Baseball is done, so it may be on Sportsnet as well.)

THE ENEMY: HOCKEY WILDERNESS

UPDATE: 1:37 PM PST: From The Province:

Team general manager Mike Gillis said the team will explore the feasibility of getting vaccinated during the Canucks’ five-game, 11-day road trip through the United States, where H1N1 vaccine may be more available through the country’s private, for-profit healthcare system.

No panic. Just cautionary stuff in light of Bernier's flu. Next up: another Elvis sighting, the anti-christ emerges, and the sky falls.

UPDATE: 12:04 PM PST: Here's a little nugget to store in your head: In the 4 games since RyJo went down, the Canucks went 10/12 on the PK... 83.3%. That stat from the Opiated Sherpa on Twitter.

UPDATE: 11:24 AM PST: Oh for the love of Mary, it appears that Steve Bernier is suffering from the flu and will miss tonight's game. The lines, according to Ben Kuzma at The Province look like this:

Burrows-H. Sedin-Bieksa

Raymond-Kesler-Samuelsson

Glass-Wellwood-Rypien

Hordichuk-Johnson-Pettinger

On D:

Mitchell-Ehrhoff

Salo-Edler

Schneider-Rome

Raycroft

No that is not a type-o. Kevin Bieksa on line 1. Wee! This is so fun! Hat tip to vancitydan for the heads up.

*********************************

After a huge and chaotic win over the Rangers on Tuesday, the Canucks hit the road for 5 straight games, including a back-to-back scenario tonight and tomorrow against the Stars. This isn't going to be easy. The Wild have won 2 straight games against the Rangers and the Penguins and have won 4 of their last 7. There is belief out in that neck of the woods that Minnesota has turned their game around.

However they currently sit last in the Western Conference with the Ducks achieving a 5-9-0 record thus far. They are 4-1-0 at home and a lousy 1-8-0 record on the road. This fate, and they sit 13th in the NHL on the power play (Canucks are 6th) and tops in the NHL on the penalty kill (88%). The Canucks' PK is ranked 19th (79%). It's 5-on-5 where the Wild don't succeed, as they rank last in the NHL in that department (Vancouver is 18th). If you analyze the stats by following those links you'll also see that the Wild do not score a lot of goals (2.14 per game average) and allow too many (3.00 goals per game.)

This is a Wild team that is in transition. Under former coach Jacques Lemaire's long-term regime, the Wild were told to play scrutinizing defence. New coach Todd Richards is trying to get them to open up a little.

As for the Canucks, some key players are close to returning. Both Roberto Luongo and Ryan Johnson (edit: AND Jannik Hansen) are on the flight out of Vancouver. With Mario Bliznak being sent back to Manitoba yesterday, there is a chance that Johnson could play. Edit: Apparently Henrik Sedin's foot is fine.

-The Canucks have established themselves as a good team at home (7-2-0) but have not had much success on the road either (2-5-0).

-There is a part of me that wasn't caring much about the injuries anymore the way the Canucks tightened up after the Ducks blowout several days ago. They are playing solid hockey in front of Andrew Raycroft now. Can they keep this intensity up? They'll have to against a terrific goalie in Niklas Backstrom.

-Ryan Kesler's 5 points in 2 games has everyone talking not only about him being a lock for Team USA (16 points in 16 games), but also for the captaincy to be handed to him. Trust me, I thought the same thing after the last game. Not going to happen though. Get over it.

-Can we please see Rick Rypien fight Derek Boogaard?

The Canucks won the first of 6 encounters with the Wild on October 17, 2-1. The next day the Wild traded prospects and a 2nd round pick in 2011 for Chuck Kobasew. He has 2 points and 5 shots in 7 games with the Wild. Ouch.

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