is the standings, my friends. Forget the distracting side story of Detroit and their home ice streak. It's not what is important about tonight's game. No, that streak is a personal accomplishment, one that the team and I am sure a good chunk of their fans will hold high next year. Unless it's underneath a list that has Stanley Cup Champions on it, as Canucks fans can attest: regular season accomplishments aren't all they're cracked up to be. No, tonight is all about the two best teams in the Western Conference going head to head, a last chance for the Canucks to plant the seed of doubt in the head of the Red Wings, something for them to think about as they head into the post season. And after a game where the Canucks might have been a little guilty of looking ahead, they're going to come out hungry tonight at the Joe. Drop the puck already...
Put up or shut up time for the Vancouver Canucks as they face likely the toughest test the rest of the way to the post season. A win, especially a convincing one could be a sign this team likely makes nothing more than a minor change or even stands pat come the trading deadline on Monday. A loss, and it could be a sign that they're going to tighten things up and try and make an adjustment heading into the home stretch.
We will probably see the same lineup tonight as the one the Canucks iced Tuesday night in Nashville, though there is a possibility that Byron Bitz, who was suffering from a sore hip, could make his way back into the lineup tonight. It's a tough call for AV, as you not only want him to be 100% ready to go, but having to pull Dale Weise after he was one of the few Canucks who played well against Nashville.
Roberto Luongo was another Canuck who stood out on Tuesday and no surprise he will get the nod tonight. He's been stellar since returning from injury in December, and he (as well as Cory Schneider) are as much the reason the Canucks have been on such a tear (if you want to call it that) as any. The Canucks goaltenders have given the team a chance to win every single night, and outright stolen games for them. There's a good chance he could end up having to do the same if the Canucks skaters can't solve Jimmy Howard tonight.
The Canucks, to a man need to be better than they were in Tennessee. That means all 4 lines are going to have to go toe to toe with Detroit. Every single battle for the puck, every scoring opportunity, every possible chance, the Canucks are going to have to try and take advantage of them, because it's so rare for this Detroit team to give you a sniff at winning, especially at home. This one will have to be earned, and it's going to come with Vancouver's best players stepping up. One thing to watch tonight is the play of Michigan boys Ryan Kesler, who always plays well in Detroit, and David Booth. Thanks to injuries and the ridiculousness of NHL scheduling, this is Booth's first time playing in Joe Louis Arena, and he no doubt will have family and friends on hand tonight. I am hoping he will respond with his strongest game yet in blue and green.
While the Wings will try and manage without Pavel Datsyuk tonight, Todd Bertuzzi might have a little jump in his step after signing a 2 year contract extension with Detroit... Calgary coach Brent Sutter said that his team has 'reached their yearly stinker quota'. Funny, it seems if there's one thing he should know by now, it's to not underestimate just how much his team can stink up the joint... Much like the status of Byron Bitz presents a possibility for the Canucks to make a move on deadline day, some injuries could play a role in the actions of some other teams. Chicago is clearly in need of some goaltending help with Corey Crawford and Ray Emery inconsistent at best. But with word out of Chicago that captain Jonathan Toews is suffering from a concussion, that really puts pressure on the Hawks as they try to avoid any further steps backward in the tight Western Conference playoff race...
KICKASS METAL SONG OF THE DAY
You know by now I love me some Municipal Waste, and I am so looking forward to their new release 'The Fatal Feast'! Here's the title track (with a special guest appearance by John Connelly of Nuclear Assault!)