Don't Wizz On The Electric Fence: Canucks-Lightning Preview

Canucks (35-20-2)
Lightning (25-21-11)

AT

Time 4:30 PM PST
TV Canucks PPV
Season Series 0 - 0
Last Meeting 2-1 Canucks (02-27-09)
The Enemy Raw Charge Scoring Leaders H. Sedin: 25-52-78    St. Louis: 18-45-63
Canucks Category Lightning
3rd Conference Position 7th
8-2-0 Last 10 7-2-1
3.18 (3rd)
Goals Per Game 2.54 (19th)
2.42 (5th) Goals Against Per Game 2.79 (20th)
1.35 (2nd) 5 On 5 GF/GA .89 (24th)
21.5% (5th) Power Play 19.1% (9th)
81.2% (18th) Penalty Kill 80% (22nd)
30.2 (14th) Shots Per Game 28.9 (22nd)
28.9 (7th) Least Shots Against Per Game 30.9 (19th)
77.8% (6th) Winning % When Scoring First 69.7% (17th)
85.7% (5th) Winning % When Leading After 1 66.7% (22nd)
46.7% (3rd) Winning % When Trailing After 1 27.3% (20th)
95.8% (4th) Winning % When Leading After 2 85% (19th)
28.6% (2nd) Winning % When Trailing After2 11.5% (18th)
51.2% (9th) Faceoffs % 51.5% (6th)
15.6 (25th) Least PIM's Per Game 16.9 (30th)
+34 (4th) + / - GF/GA -12 (21st)

Update: Ryan Johnson and Nolan Baumgartner are healthy scratches tonight, and with Demitra out,  Steve Bernier, Brad Lukowich and Jannik Hansen will replace them.

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

The Canucks will get their first look at Mattias Ohlund in a different jersey. Should be a surreal experience, especially if Ohlund plays a hell of a game and/or pummels somebody. Is he going to go a little easy on the Sedins? Doubt it. Nor should he. Mattias got a bit of a raise to sign in Tampa and sure, he's mentoring that Viktor Hedman kid, but in 50 games he has no goals and 10 assists and a -8.

The Lightning have currently won 3 straight games for only the 2nd time this year. For a while there they were in trouble. In October, they had a 4-3-4 record, in November a 6-4-4 record, in December a 5-8-2 record, in January a 7-6-1 record. They have won all 3 of their games in February so far, hoping to solidify a playoff spot. They are hanging in there by a thread, only 2 points up on 9th and 10th spot (as of 5:11 pm Monday). Yeah, the East is a gong-show from the 6th-12th spots. Only 5 points separate those teams.

In their last 5 games, Tampa is 3-1-1. They have only allowed 9 goals in that span. In those games:

-Steven Stamkos, not suffering from the sophomore jinx at all, has 4 goals and 8 points

-Martin St. Louis has 4 goals and 7 points

-Steve Downie, who looks to be playing on the St. Louis-Stamkos line has 4 assists

-Vincent Lecavalier has 1 goal and 2 assists

-Alex Tanguay has 1 goal and 2 assists

-Kurtis Foster has 3 assists

-Ohlund has nadda, zip, zilch

-Hedman has 1 assist

Given their goals against lately, it appears the team is buying into Rick Tocchet's system. Defense and goaltending have been an issue for Tampa last year and much of this year. However, on top of the improved defensive play, Antero Niittymaki has started all of the Lightning's games lately and has played awesome, stealing the job away from Mike Smith.

Check out Tampa's scoring leaders. That is an impressive top 6 right there, and it is going to be tough for the Canucks to match up against that. Speaking of matching up, it will be interesting to see if the Lightning, like the other road teams playing the Canucks lately, can contain the Burrdins. That's a tough thing about being on the road is that the opposing team can put out their best checking line against the Twins and Burrows, as they get the last change. Well those 3 need to fight through that. They need to cycle the puck more rather than making fancy passes that are repeatedly getting picked off.

With Pavol Demitra returning to Vancouver for personal reasons, Mikael Samuelsson will most likely regain his spot with Kesler and Raymond. We'll see if Steve Bernier draws back into the lineup back onto line 3 or if Jannik Hansen cracks the roster or both.

The Canucks have to shake their habit of sleepwalking early in road games. It is becoming a filthy habit. What I found interesting was the contrast in opinions (about confidence) from Canucks players after the Bruins game. Sami Salo said: "I don’t think anybody is going to be overconfident in Florida," while Christian Ehrhoff said: "We’ve lost confidence the last few games here. If the confidence is not there, the plays aren’t as crisp and there’s confusion on the ice. We’ve got to find our confidence." So which one is it? I'll go with over-confidence, in general. That needs to stop.

OK, now for a few clips to get your juices flowing:

1. Highlights from the Canucks win over Tampa in February 2009

2. Lecavalier fights Burrows

3. Gratton loses it on Burrows, Ohlund scraps O'Brien

4. Andre Roy vs Nathan McIver Classic Tilt from the past...or was it? Not according to McIver.

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