24 hours ago we hoped Vigneault showed us why he was worth extending because he applied a fair amount of changes across his B squad line-up and had an entire week to get ready for Calgary. As you know, the results were abysmal. Blame the layoff if you're kind, but the Flames outmatched, outcoached, outmuscled and outclassed the Canucks in every way. Calgary could have down-shifted and they still would have been playing several levels above Vancouver. Easily one of the worst games the Canucks has vomited up in almost two years and yet, somehow, they take to the ice tonight with the league's best PP and a marginally better PK. Go figure.
They return home and meet the only team in the conference worse than they are: The Minnesota Wild. They're catching them at a vulnerable time too as they've lost four straight and have a slew of injuries: Cal Clutterbuck - ankle, Petr Sykora - groin, Pierre-Marc Bouchard - concussion, Martin Havlat - groin. They're also showing up fresh off a loss to an Alberta team last night so both teams share that in common. Perhaps the Wild miss Gaborik more than expected but fear not Minny fans: we miss our spines.
If you care, the Wild went 1-4-1 against the Canucks last season and 1-2 at GM Place. Niklas Backstrom is 8-5-4 against Vancouver with a 2.24 GAA and .922 save%. Roberto Luongo (if he plays) is 9-11-5 against Minnesota with a 2.73 GAA and .900 save.
If this season had started differently, you could look at this game as a lay-up. But there are no more weak teams in the West (unless you want to count Vancouver?). They need to find their defensive game immediately. The Wellwood line has to be on the shortest leash possible, second only to the fourth line (hey Corsi fans, have a peek). Hordichuk should be benched quicker than you can say "McGratton" and that may hold true if Alexandre Bolduc, the latest Manitoba recall, gets to play tonight. And if Kesler admits they played scared in Calgary, then it's time for him to lead this team out there against a team they have no right being scared of. With three games in five days - including Wednesday in Chicago - a loss tonight will bring the torches and pitchforks back out.
Gamethread up, drinks mixed, fists clenched. Donny, you're out of your element.