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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks @ Avalanche

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Coming off a massive bounce back game not just for Ryan Miller but the Canucks in general, they head to Denver to wrap up their 3 game road swing with a game against the struggling Avalanche.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Time Friday, 6:00 PST
TV Sportsnet One
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting
4-2 Avalanche Apr 10/14
The Enemy Mile High Hockey Scoring Leaders H. Sedin: 2-6-8
M. Duchene 2-2-4
Canucks
CATEGORY
Avalanche
4-2 SEASON RECORD 1-4-2
8 Points 4
7th Conference Position 14th
Won 1
Streak Lost 1
3.17 (9)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
1.71 (28)
2.83 (16)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
3.43 (25)
20.0 (14) Power Play % 11.0 (24)
85.2 (11) Penalty Kill % 85.7 (10)
45.1 (29) Faceoff Win % 47.3 (26)
11.8 (17) PIM / GP 14.1 (26)
52.0 (11) Corsi For % 42.9 (28)
98.3 (23) PDO 96.7 (27)

The Vancouver Canucks seemed determined to put Tuesday's gong show in Dallas behind them, and damned if they didn't in a big way, rattling off a 4-1 win. The biggest story of the night was Ryan Miller, who came in after getting pulled in the Dallas game and was quite simply the goalie we hoped we were getting when they signed him. Add in a great game from the 2nd line, a much better defensive effort all around helped the Canucks take advantage of a Blues team that was apparently battling illness on top of the crippling disadvantage of having to live in St. Louis.

The 3rd game in 4 nights road trip concludes tonight as the Canucks roll into Colorado to play the last place Avalanche. I need to get a couple things out of the way here: small sample size, early in the season. There, with those out of the way, let's talk about how bloody awful the Avalanche are now that regression appears to have taken root in the Mile High City, shall we?

Apart from some pretty good penalty killing in this early season, the Colorado Avalanche are exactly who most who pay attention to hockey analytics thought they would be. Their high-powered offense from last year is a mere memory. They give up a ton of shots, and are a terrible possession team. Combine that with the loss of offense through attrition (Paul Stastny, PA Parenteau and others), a number of players shockingly not able to reproduce last season's above average shooting percentages, and in another shocking development; they're not getting the kind of goaltending they received last season from Semyon Varlamov. The insistence of Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic to keep the team focused on shot quality, relying on trying to create opportunities off the rush than anything else, and a defensive system that can be summed up as 'well, that's why we have a goalie, right?' seems to be working fabulously for them thus far. They claim that by focusing on high percentage shooting opportunities, and a defensive system that tries to keep shots to the outside and let the goaltending handle the low percentage shots, this should get them right back where they were last season. So why isn't it working?

Well, first up let's look at offensive production. They're not getting the kind of production they thought they would from their top 6. Nathan MacKinnon is going to be a superstar in this league, but he's heading into game 8 of the season with just 3 assists to show for his efforts. The big free agent signing by the Avs in Jarome Iginla? He still hasn't scored yet either. And when your top scorer in Matt Duchene is tied with Canucks 4th liner Linden Vey, you can tell there's likely a problem with your plan.

Defensively, this is a team that is floundering. There's just 3 teams that give up more shots than the Avs right now, and 2 of those 3 are Western Conference teams that are doing much better than they are. The Avs started the year with back to back shutout losses to the Minnesota Wild. They went on a 5 game road trip in the East, and started it with a 2-1 win in Boston, getting a last second win against the struggling Bruins. They followed that up with losses to Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa before suffering the indignity of an OT loss to the Florida Panthers. While you can say part of the problem was having Varlamov out of the lineup for 3 games with a groin injury, his performance before that is hardly Vezina worthy so far. The Canucks playing their 3rd game in 4 nights in Denver usually spells trouble, but right now the Avalanche have shown little to make anyone think they're going to be a playoff team, let alone the contender some had them pegged as.

Here's tonight's projected lines (subject to change)

Avalanche Projected Lines

Tanguay/ Duchene/ Iginla

Landeskog/ O`Reilly/ MacKinnon

McGinn/ Mitchell/ Talbot

McLeod/ Briere/ Cliche

Hejda/ Johnson

Stuart/ Barrie

Holden/ Redmond

Varlamov/ Berra



Canucks Projected Lines
D. Sedin / H. Sedin / Vrbata
Higgins / Bonino / Burrows
Matthias / Richardson / Kassian
Dorsett / Vey / Hansen

Edler / Tanev
Sbisa / Bieksa
Hamhuis / Weber

Miller / Lack

The only changes we can expect to see would be Eddie Lack starting tonight, and a slim chance of Frank Corrado drawing in the lineup tonight. As mentioned, Varlamov is back from injury and will start tonight, and like Lack, looking for his first win of the season.

PREGAME BATTLE HYMN

Colorado isn't a state that jumps out when you think of big time musical acts. The most famous act to come from the home of thin air and legalized weed is Earth, Wind and Fire, followed by the pop abomination that is One Republic. Fortunately there's a couple bands that redeem this state's credibility: Havok and Cephalic Carnage.

This Denver based thrash juggernaut have released 3 albums, the most recent being last year's 'Unnatural Selection'. Here's their video for 'Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death', a pretty relevant clip given recent events.

Cephalic Carnage, also from Denver refer to their music as 'Rocky Mountain Hydro Grind' and are definitely one of the more experimental forces in the deathgrind sub genre.

Going to steal borrow a few things from Yankee's kickass preview yesterday:

Snack Of The Game

I see your Fritos Pie and raise you CRAZY DORITOS!


She held a plastic fork in one hand. Her other cradled a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos sliced open, lengthwise, then heaped with grated carrots, jicama, cucumber, pickled pork rinds, peanuts, jellied sweets, lime juice, two kinds of chilli powder, and swirls of several kinds of fruity syrup and hot sauce. It looked like a Jackson Pollock painting dumped in a bag.

Good god.

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

- 1 Drink: Video of Patrick Roy shaking the glass in his coaching debut.

- 1 Drink: A sentence using the words: 'Jarome Iginla' and 'Canuck Killer'

- 2 Drinks: John Garrett makes another attempt to explain fancy stats.

- 2 Drinks: The 'R' word (Bonus drink if Dan Murphy says it)

- 3 Drinks: Video of Peter Forsberg punching Dan Cloutier in the nuts.

- 3 Drinks: Zack Kassian finds a way to top his leap into the St. Louis bench last night.

Parting thoughts from Sterling Archer

Situational Awareness

Lana: Okay, that was a fluke. Sterling: Yeah, a fluke of nature. Because I happen to have perfect situational awareness, Lana. Which cannot be taught, by the way. Like a poet's ... mind for ... to make the perfect words.

SCORE PREDICTION WIZARD DOUBLE SUPER BONUS UPDATE

SPW

No one got the Dallas game right (though BigPDog damn near nailed the trifecta), and just he and Jes Golbez tagged Victoria's own Jamie Benn with the GWG. Meanwhile, last night's 4-1 win in St Louis we had 3 correct scores: MightymikeD, itsahardknocklife and cyr, while Nathaniel Perlow, nucksandpucks and GeordieNuck had Nick Bonino as GWG. Here's your standings:

Jes Golbez 4

Nathaniel Perlow 4
australiannuck 3
canuck94 3
Westy99 3
Kiwinuck 3

cyr 3
brianadams 2
Tengeresz 2
Vancouverguy 2

Seedvt 2

jluglue 2

Geordie Nuck 2

andrew21nz 2
GreenBike14 1
BigPDog 1
Twitchy2010 1
Brobidus 1
Passive Voice 1
pheenster 1
Bobby Canuck 1
Canuck89 1
AtillaS 1
spinwezel 1
Frank In Wa 1
mattpisko 1
Coach Ryan 1
prairienucker 1

MightymikeD 1
itsahardknocklife1

nucksandpucks 1

Azzy Mahmood 1