Canucks-Wild Preview: Pressure Mounting

  Wild (37-35-6)
Canucks (47-27-4)

AT

Time 7:00 PM PST
TV Canucks PPV
Season Series 3-2 Canucks
Last Meeting 6-2 Wild (02-14-10)
The Enemy Hockey Wilderness Scoring Leaders H. Sedin: 29-76-105 Koivu: 20-48-68
Wild
Category Canucks
13th Conference Position 3rd
4-6-0
Last 10 5-4-1
2.64 (19)
Goals Per Game 3.23 (2)
2.91 (21)
Least Goals Against Per Game 2.63 (12)
.88 (25)
5 On 5 GF/GA 1.28 (2)
19.2 (9)
Power Play %
21.1 (5)
82.9 (12) Penalty Kill %
80.9 (18)
27.7 (29)
Shots Per Game 30.8 (10)
29.3 (9)
Least Shots Against Per Game 29.3 (9)
71.9 (11)
Winning % When Scoring First 78.4 (5)
76.0 (12)
Winning % When Leading After 1 82.8 (6)
30.4 (17)
Winning % When Trailing After 1 43.9 (5)
87.5 (11)
Winning % When Leading After 2 96.8 (3)
19.4 (9)
Winning % When Trailing After2 33.3 (2)
52.3 (4)
Faceoffs % 51.5 (6)
15.2 (26)
Least PIM's Per Game 10.9 (5)
-28 (27)
+ / - GF/GA (see here)
+40 (2)

Update (2:57): Despite dropping from 235 to 227 pounds during his "exile", Shane O'Brien will not play tonight. If Botchford is correct, he still has a meeting with Mike Gillis tomorrow. Hey Alberts! Get your shit together!

Update: Shane O'Brien is getting better in front of a mic: "He's the coach and he's the boss and that's why he gets paid to make those decisions. he did what he thought would be good for the team and I'm in no position to argue it. I made a mistake and when you make a mistake in life, there are consequences and I know that so I've got to be a man and step up and take the punishment." OB rejoined the team this morning for practice. His full apology to his mates here. Not sure that he'll play though.  Also, Mikael Samuelsson, Son of Sam, the sniping maniac makes his return to the lineup tonight. It us unknown who sits. I think we've made it clear who we want that to be.

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

I'm not going to sit here and continually bash Roberto Luongo. We/he knows that he has to be better. However, there are several problems surrounding the Lou conundrum. First of all, I fully support Alain Vigneault's decision to leave Lou in goal for all 8 goals scored against on Thursday versus the Kings. AV tried to get Roberto to work through his "issues" in that game, the team included. None of them responded and shat the bed instead. More after the jump.

I also liked AV's decision because he's not baby-ing the captain. Lou shouldn't get special treatment. Let's see how he responds now.

The Canucks rebounded and played better in front of Andrew Raycroft the following night against the Ducks. Yeah, they weren't as tight or consistent defensively against the Ducks either, but they managed to outscore the opposition regardless. Why the better efforts in front of Raycroft? Why oh why oh why? Is it a trust issue? Do they feel the need to tighten up in front of Rayzor because he is not as good as Lou?

Well this game against the Wild may present a baffling scenario. What is going to motivate Vancouver to play a strong game now that they are most likely not going to catch Chicago for the second seed and are most likely not going to lose the 3rd seed in the West? They only need 1 point to clinch the NW title. Am I sounding a tad pessimistic? Well...they need to step up as a team and play better in front of Luongo and Luongo needs to return to form. Is that motivation enough? Prove it to themselves that they can play better team game, especially in their own zone.

Minnesota has officially been eliminated from the playoffs for a few days now. They can and will play loose. The Wild have won their last 2 games against the Canucks, outscoring them 11-4. Ironically, Luongo was pulled in both games. Time to exorcise some demons!

BTW, it's Roberto Luongo's 31st birthday today. Maybe that counts for something...

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