Canucks At Wild Preview: Expectation....Liberation

To begin whipping dance of the dead

UPDATE: Jeremy Welsh out, Sestito draws back in.

Time Tuesday, 5:00 PST
TV Sportsnet Pacific
Season Series 2012-13: 2-2
Last Meeting
3-1 Wild Mar. 18/13
The Enemy Hockey Wilderness coring Leaders D. Sedin: 11-20-31
Parise: 14-12-26
CANUCKS
CATEGORY
WILD
20-10-5 SEASON RECORD 19-11-5
45 POINTS 43
7th CONFERENCE POSITION 8th
Won 7
STREAK Won 1
8-1-1 LAST 10 4-5-1
10-5-2 ROAD RECORD / HOME RECORD 13-3-2
2.77 (11)
GOALS PER GAME AVERAGE 2.20 (28)
2.29 (6) GOALS AGAINST PER GAME AVERAGE 2.20 (5)
1.13 (10) 5 ON 5 GF / GA 1.16 (8)
16.1 (21) POWER PLAY % 20.4 (8)
90.2 (1) PENALTY KILL % 78.3 (25)
32.4 (4) SHOTS/GAME AVG 27.4 (26)
51.1 (14) FACEOFF WINS % 52.0 (7)
670 (23) HITS
601 (29)
523 (10) BLOCKED SHOTS 464 (15)
127 (16) MINOR PENALTIES TAKEN 132 (23)
NHL.COM

On the road again.

Thanks to a weekend from heaven, the Canucks are the hottest team in the NHL with a 7-game winning streak. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 which is only second to Pittsburgh (9-1-0). It feels solid to be a Canucks fan right now. Spirits are high. They are getting scoring from so many places, especially against Boston Saturday. Scoring to the nth degree.

The Canucks finished their lengthy homestand with a 5-0 record. Their previous road trip was a 3-1 success. These guys are smokin'.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

But here comes Minnesota. 2 points behind the Canucks and 2 points up on 9th place Phoenix. Playing 500 hockey lately: 3-3 in their last 6. The Wild are a team that I keep waiting for to break out but it doesn't happen. So, they got Ryan Suter and Zach Parise a couple summers ago, so they are gonna kick some butt, right? Nope. Matching $7.538 million contracts and the team delivers inconsistently. Breaking up their season by months, the Wild had a 6-4-3 record in October. In November, they went 7-0-1 from the 1st to the 18th of the month and then 2-4-1 to finish the month for a 9-4-2 overall record. That explains why they are where they are right now. They have a 4-3-0 record in December so far.

The stat table above tells a very general, all-too-familiar story about the Wild: they don't score a lot of goals but they also tend to keep a lot of pucks out of their own net.

Is this gonna be a snoozer? A sleeper after the Canucks' game of the season? Quite possible.

The Wild have won their last 2 games vs the Canucks.

TOP 5 WILD SCORERS

1. Parise: 14-12-26

2. Koivu: 7-18-25

3. Pominville: 15-8-23

4. Ryan Suter: 0-18-18. Wow, no goals yet..

5. Nino Niederreiter: 6-10-16

For the record, Ryan Suter leads the NHL in time on ice averaged per game with 29:32. That is a 1:50 per game average more than 2nd place Erik Karlsson. So when you see a goose egg in his goals - for this season, you know something stinks.

El Nino Niederreiter...get used to hearing that name. The Wild acquired him at the 2013 draft in exchange for Cal Clutterbuck. So, they gave away a pesty pain in the ass and got an even bigger one back. From Michael Russo of the Minnesota Tribune:

It’s almost as if Nino Niederreiter loves his face being used as a punching bag.

There’s no statistical category for it, but if you’ve watched the Wild through the first 35 games of this season, the young forward clearly leads the team in goalmouth scrums.

Niederreiter frequently drives the net, gets into the opposing goaltenders’ workspace and tries to make their life difficult, whether it be by driving with the puck or going there to establish position, create screens and look for deflections.

Read more from Russo here.

Cool, I hate him already.

PROJECTED WILD ROSTER

Parise - Koivu - Coyle

Neiderreiter - Erik Haula - Pominville

Heatley - Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Cooke - Brodziak - Bulmer

Suter - Brodin

Scandella - Spurgeon

Stoner - Ballard (Hips!)

Harding - Backstrom

INJURY LIST

Mikael Granlund (head)

Keep in mind that the Wild are 13-3-2 at home this season. Most impressive. Only 4 teams have that many road wins and only Pittsburgh has more (15).

AS FOR THE CANUCKS...

The last time they beat the Bruins in January of 2012 they went 2-2-1 over their next 5 and then 6-0-1 in their next 7 after that. But it is common belief that the team lost a big part of it's soul after that win in Boston and never recovered it all the way up until Alain Vigneault was fired. I don't think that's something to worry about here. Where Vigneault did less talking to the players and let the core leaders do the leading, it is no longer that way here. Well, let's just say John Tortorella has a very hands-on approach with motivating and teaching. He won't let them lose their soul this time around.

It looks as though the Canucks have stabilized their lineup formation, for now.

Sedin - Sedin - Hansen

Higgins - Kesler - Santorelli

Booth - Richardson - Kassian

SESTITO Welsh - Dalpe - Weise

Hamhuis - Tanev

Weber - Garrison

Stanton - Bieksa

Luongo

Injured: Burrows and Edler.

Those lines can change in a split second if the Canucks fail to muster offence or look flat against the Wild.

DID YOU KNOW?

Roberto Luongo has not started a game in Minnesota since October of 2010, and was pulled in his last 3 starts there. He holds a 3-9-1-1 record on that ice. Disturbing Luongo and team stat there. Also: TIME TO CHANGE THAT SHIT UP! Luongo will start this one.

TRENDS

  • Canucks are 35-16 in their last 51 games playing on 2 days rest.
  • Canucks are 40-19 in their last 59 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game.
  • Canucks are 2-7 in their last 9 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
  • Wild are 7-19 in their last 26 Tuesday games.
  • Wild are 1-5 in their last 6 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game.

SCORE-PREDICTING WIZARDS UPDATE

A few peeps, including Twitchy2010 picked Higgins to score the winner vs Boston. Nobody got the score right though. The updated leaderboard can be viewed here.

VIDEO

Matt Cooke was a solid player for the Canucks. We really liked Cookie, especially in the playoffs. Check out the end of game 1 in the 2003 Western Conference Semi-Final versus the Wild:

It's too bad Burrows isn't playing. The Wild really hate him:

The title of this game preview post has been brought to you by Metallica:

GO CANUCKS GO!

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