Canucks - Penguins Preview

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GAME TIME: 7:00 PST

TV: CBC

LAST MEETING: November 22, 2008: Canucks 3 Penguins 1 (<--Boxscore)

THE FLIGHTLESS ENEMY: Pensburgh

UPDATE (3:56 PST): No green men tonight. Booo.

UPDATE: M-A Fleury won't even play backup tonight. Alexander Pechurski will. The Penguins had to sign him to a 1-game tryout contract.

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First of all, I would like to thank Hooks Orpik from Pensburgh for emailing us the following intriguing factoids this week:

- Marc-Andre Fleury has at least 1 win over every NHL team except Minnesota and Vancouver.  (He blew a chance to beat the Wild on Monday)
-Vancouver is the only NHL team that Jordan Staal hasn't scored a point against
-Vancouver is the only NHL team that Sidney Crosby hasn't recorded an assist against is Vancouver.

The last time the Penguins played at GM Place was on December 8, 2007, and they won 2-1. Remember that game? More on that later.

Fleury might not get a chance to redeem himself on Saturday night, as he is day-to-day with a fractured finger. It happened after making a glove save last game against the Oilers. Fleury finished the game and the Penguins won.  With backup goalie Brent Johnson on the IR, the Penguins may have a bit of a dilemma (crosses fingers, prays, sells soul to Satan).

If neither can start the Penguins will most likely use a guy named John Curry between the pipes. He may be a bit smaller, but his stats are not too bad after playing 3 games with the Penguins this season.

 

If you hear about an emergency defenceman call-up from Manitoba it will be because Willie Mitchell is probably not going to play. He left Friday's practice with a stiff back, which he suffered from that Boogaard hit, but is expected to play anyways. Cross your fingers. Apparently Boogaard was joking with Mitchell after the hit: "I've been trying to get you for 5 years." Haha? More on Willie here.

As much as I'd "love" to see a battle for potentially the backup position for Team Canada between Roberto Luongo and Fleury tonight, I wouldn't mind seeing Curry start. See, us Canucks fans have had a miserable week. Controversies, sub-par efforts and regulation losses. It's wearing on my mind. A win, just one damned win for starters would ease my dark, clouded mind. Pavol Demitra returns? That's just great, only if it sparks the team to WIN.

I hate the Penguins. Always have and always will. Pure hate. So it pains me to even be civil while informing you of their status. Pittsburgh, 4-6-0 in their last 10, waltzed into Alberta and beat both the Flames and Oilers 3-1 and 3-2 respectively in their last 2 games. Thank you for that (still hate you). Now they take their 16-10-0 road record into Vancouver. The Pens are 3-2 in their last 5 games. In those games:

-Sadney Crosby has 6 goals and 2 assists. He's heating up.

-Pascal Dupuis has 2 goals and 3 assists

-Evgeni Malkin has 4 assists

-Bill Guerin has 2 goals and 2 assists

-Sergei Gonchar has 2 goals and 2 assists

-Mark Eaton has 4 assists

-Jordan Staal has 4 assists

-Matt Cooke has 2 goals and 1 assist

Malkin, who scored 113 points in 82 games last season, "only" has 13 goals and 43 points in 42 games this season. In his last 15 games he only has 3 goals and those all came in one game. Whodini lives! But hey Pens fans, the Canucks can be good at breaking an opposing player out of their slump, or giving some kid his first NHL goal. You have any of those? 

COMPARATIVE STATS

GOALS PER GAME: Canucks 3rd, Penguins 6th

LEAST GOALS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 8th, Penguins 13th

5 ON 5: Canucks 3rd, Penguins 5th

POWER PLAY: Canucks 4th, Penguins 29th (???) You gotta be kidding me.

PENALTY KILL: Penguins 10th, Canucks 15th

SHOTS PER GAME: Penguins 3rd, Canucks 15th

LEAST SHOTS AGAINST PER GAME: Canucks 7th, Penguins 9th

WINNING % WHEN SCORING FIRST: Penguins 7th, Canucks 10th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 1: Canucks 5th, Penguins 6th

WINNING % WHEN LEADING AFTER 2: Canucks 3rd, Penguins 10th

FACEOFFS: Canucks 8th, Penguins 19th

This is going to be a great game to watch. There is going to be an excellent atmosphere at GM Place as the Penguins are defending Stanley Champions. I can't see the Canucks not playing them hard. I can't see Roberto Luongo having another shaky performance either.

-Look out Henrik, Ovechkin is catching up!

-I believe Alain Vigneault will be on HNIC's After Hours tonight.

Nielson_white_towel_medium There are several Canucks fans, especially on Canucks.com, who are encouraging fans who are attending the game to bring white towels. While that may antagonize the referees somewhat I think that overall this is a great idea. Hell, how did that tradition start in hockey anyway? From coach Roger Nielson, who waved the white towel on a hockey stick in surrender to the officiating back in the 1982 playoffs when the refs were calling multiple penalties against the Canucks in the semi-finals that year. The Canucks went on to beat the Blackhawks in that series regardless and towel power was born. Seems fitting don't you think?

 

And now, a little video montage from Penguins-Canucks meetings in the past:

1. Suck It Sid! Lou stops Crosby on a penalty shot in overtime and in the shootout in December 2007

2. Canucks beat Penguins November 2008. 2 goals by....Pavol Demitra.

3. Linden scores the tying goal in the shootout (December 2007)

4. NOOOOOOOO!

5. You'll probably laugh at this...

6. "Kirk McLean doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch." Look at which victims make #5 on this Mario Lemieux compilation. Ever tell you I hate Mario? Looked great in a Team Canada jersey, but like a monkey's anus in a Pens jersey.

Damn the Pens! Beat them down, Canucks!

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