UPDATE 1:30 PM
Alain Vigneault thanked the media for respecting Rick Rypien's personal matters, and then talked about how they are preparing the Ripper to be ready for the playoffs. This still leaves Raymond slotted out. AV said that the 6 defencemen from last game will play tonight.
He said nothing about Raymond, who I think will sit again, unless Pyatt gets benched. Don't see that happening.
Anyone else notice the chemistry Rypien has with Hordichuk? It is noticeable.
Let's repeat that: one win.
One win is all the Vancouver Canucks need to officially clinch a playoff spot. It's been pretty much a foregone conclusion that this would happen, but legitimacy adds a warm, silk-like feel to everything. Better still, it allows us to begin planning our post season binge drinking budgets accordingly.
Granted they have six games left to make it official, but who better to do it against then Anaheim, a team that ended their last post season aspirations two years ago and, right now, needs every point it can get to ensure it doesn't go golfing soon at the expense of the surging Blues or even the Wild or Oilers.
The Ducks bring with them a 8-2 run since they beat Vancouver in OT back on March 11th. Back then we all entertained the idea of Pronger and company having to pack it up early, but sadly it looks like, if they continue their winning ways, they're not just sticking around but may have to deal with Detroit in the first round (sheesh, who the hell do you root for in that?).
Part of their success has been their big guns: Niedermayer and Pronger have added 13 points combined to an Anaheim powerplay that has gone 14-for-36 (38.9 percent) in their last eight games. Getzlaf, Ryan and Perry have combined for 27 points in that same stretch.
But as good as the Ducks have been, their larger and far more aggressive aquatic superior to the north has been better. 20-5-1 since February better. The Sun has a nice breakdown of the highlights in that run which include:
1. Mucking around with the defensive pairings back in January (slotting in Salo with Mitchell, moving Bieksa down to O'Brien's line and pairing up Ohlund and Edler). The result? The top six combined for "a plus-43, led by Mitchell’s awesome plus-20."
2. In early February, Vigneault junked together enemic Sundin with Demo and KesLORD, the latter of which had played the entire season on the third line. They went on to score seven points in their first game together (4-3 win over the Canes) and "15 more in the next two." To date, "in their 26 games together, the RPMers have combined for 75 points. Kesler, in particular, has blossomed as a top-six performer with 28 points."
3. A week after forming the RPM line, and down 4-3 against St. Louis, Viggy went a line jugglin' and bumped perinniel third-liner Mr. Everything to right wing alongside the twins. The result? "Burrows scored in the third, the team netted three more and prevailed by a 6-4 count." To date, "in 23 full games as a trio, the twins and Burrows have produced 75 points and an outrageous plus-42."
The only part the piece left out was Luongo who, in the same span of games, has gone 19-4-1. His season record stands at 30-11-6 which is just five fewer wins than all of last year when he played 25 more games. Lui's seven shutouts are second best in the league, his GAA (2.34) is sixth best and his save% (.920) is 8th best.
Clearly, it's good-time happy vibes days in Canuck land again. And with Vancouver back on home ice and firing on most cylinders (ahem Sundin), we should expect another solid performance and - fingers crossed - the most legimitate win of the season.
- For the record, Mr. Everything and KesLORD have combined scored 50 goals this year for the good guys
- Mr. Everything needs a single point to hit the 100 plateau for his career.
- The Holy Bernier (2-2-4) and Beeeksa (1-3-4) share the the lead among Canucks players with points against Anaheim. Conversely, Corey Perry leads the Ducks with seven points (1-6-7) against Vancouver this season.
- Anaheim is 31-5-3 this season when scoring the first goal. Vancouver is 30-8-6.
- More on the playoff breakdown is here.
- One more clinch view from Kuklas: Vancouver is in if they get at least one point against the Anaheim Ducks OR if the St. Louis Blues get one or no points against the Detroit Red Wings.