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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks @ Avalanche

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The Canucks start what may be a very telling road trip with a brief pit stop in Denver, before heading to the Cali coast. Who woke up Nathan MacKinnon for this one? Shouldn't have done that.

Rarr.
Rarr.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Canucks vs Avalanche coverage

Time Tuesday, 6:00 PST
TV SNP
Season Series 2-0
Last Meeting 
7-3 Avs 10/24/14
The Enemy Mile High Hockey Scoring Leaders

H. Sedin 4-9-13
M. Duchene 3-6-9

Canucks
CATEGORY
Avalanche
8-4-0 SEASON RECORD 3-5-5
16 Points 11
3rd Conference Position 12th
Lost 1
Streak Lost 2
3.08 (6th)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.38 (23rd)
2.83 (19th)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
2.77 (17th)
22.7 (7th) Power Play % 17.0 (19th)
87.0 (6th) Penalty Kill % 92.4 (2nd)
46.7 (29th) Faceoff Win % 47.5 (27th)
11.2 (15th) PIM / GP 12.8 (22nd)
31.8 (7th) Shots For / GP 28.6 (22nd)
29.2 (13th) Shots Against / GP 35.4 (28th)
Canucks
Analytics
Avalanche
52.7 (12th) 5v5 Close Corsi For % 41.4 (29th)
53.2 (9th) 5v5 Close Fenwick For % 43.4 (28th)
2.38 (12th) 5v5 Goals For / 60 1.95 (23rd)
2.92 (24th)
5v5 Goals Against / 60 2.66 (20th)
-3 (22nd)
5v5 Goal +/-
-9 (27th)
50.53 (13th) 5v5 OZS % 49.48 (17th)
8.3 (13th) 5v5 Shooting % 7.94 (15th)
89.96 (24th) 5v5 Save % 89.68 (25th)
98.3 (24th) PDO 97.6 (26th)

H. Sedin +8.72

D. Sedin +8.62

5v5 Corsi Rel % Leaders

D. Everberg +12.34

R. O'Reilly +10.40

J. Hansen -10.04

S. Matthias -9.52

5v5 Corsi Rel % Anchors

C. Mcleod -9.91

M. Cliche -9.46

N. Bonino 4.00

C. Higgins 3.14

5v5 Points / 60 Leaders

J. Iginla 2.30

M. Duchene 1.93

So I had a nice game preview written for you good people. And then it was deleted, because SBNation hates me and wants me to suffer. And I relied on the autosave feature. Mea culpa on the late posting.

Colorado is a team that really hates possession and numbers that reflect possession and shot attempts. The prevailing sentiment coming into this year is that given Colorado's struggles in the shot attempt battle, their overall win totals should be expected to regress. At least so far, there may be something to that.

If you ask Patrick Roy though, its a bunch of nonsense.

"It’s a bit the way we want to play," said Roy in June as he was picking up his Jack Adams. "We’re an offensive team. We’re a team that want to go on offense. We have the speed and the skills up front. We gave up a lot of shots, yes. But it’s not a concern to us."

Roy preaches quality attempts over quantity. But I am not sure I completely buy the philosophy. The numbers don't reflect that the Avs produced attempts from high probability areas at any significantly better rate than other teams last season. And their team defense is not suppressing shot attempts (35.4 per game, third highest in the league), which has little to do with the chosen mode of offense.

This is in spite of the dearth of young talent they have offensively. Those who watched the last meeting between these two teams recognize that they have a number of offensive weapons and, when clicking, can score at a rapid rate.

The win totals have not been there for the Avs, and their Corsi for % is closer to Buffalo than it is other competent teams in the league. Roy is calling out players about sloppy play in their own zone. They have also struggled a bit in shooting percentage. Things haven't been all rainbows and unicorns in Colorado. Though I expect that to change a bit now that this guy is back to being a constant offensive threat:

That's what he can do.

The Canucks, by contrast, rely on a possession game. Desjardins has consistently preached controlled zone exits and entries and at least so far, the team has taken to the style quite well. They certainly have the ability to keep teams like the Avs, who struggle at exiting their zone, pinned in at even strength. They will do well to put pressure on Colorado's porous team defense early and often, and capitalize at evens. Because thus far, the Avs have been exceptional on the PK (92.4%). Not having a play driver like Burrows out there hurts in this circumstance, as the second line has been the most prolific at even strength this season.

Bo is a Go

Tonight will mark the NHL regular season debut of 19 year old former first-round pick Bo Horvat. Expectations should be tempered. I would anticipate he will be fairly sheltered on mostly the fourth line (in terms of TOI), and situationally matched against the Avs bottom 6 where possible. Don't be surprised if he only sees 8-10 minutes of action. That said, it is exciting to see the youngster get his chance and his future is bright.

The interesting news is that Linden Vey will get his shot at the second line wing in Burrows absence. This is a big opportunity for Vey, who has primarily produced on the powerplay but has been otherwise relegated to strict bottom 6 even strength minutes.

Bieksa's Back

The other news you may have picked up from Dan Murphy's tweet above is that Bieksa draws back in. Ryan Stanton is also back as well. This all means a bit less time for Luca Sbisa and Dan Hamhuis, which is probably a good thing. I should say that Sbisa has played well (sssshhhhhhhh) and deserves his ice right now. Hamhuis has really struggled. Mightily. We'll see if pairing back up with Bieksa will help or hinder.

Keys to the Game:

Semyon Varlamov will get the start opposite of Ryan Miller. While Miller has struggled against Colorado over the course of his career (1-3-4, .893 SV%), Varlamov has largely picked up where he left off last season. The Avalanche get criticized a lot for their poor shot suppression. But last season, they did do a decent to above average job of limiting chances from high probability scoring areas (around the net and slot).

Shot Rate Differential COL

courtesy of war-on-ice.com

They lean heavily on Varlamov to make stops on point shots, and do not do particularly well against teams that cycle in from the corners. The Canucks will want to pin them down low and let the Triplets go to work. If the defense is free to fire away, they must create traffic in front of the net. The congestion of Avs and Canucks players will lead to tips, redirections, loose pucks and rebounds. Garbage goals, as it were. Even the most active goalies have fits over this type of stuff. If the Canucks can bottle that congestion in all game, expect a lot of guys getting theirs on the door step.

Projected Lines

Vancouver:

Sedin - Sedin - Vrbata

Higgins - Bonino - Vey

Richardson - Matthias - Kassian

Dorsett - Horvat - Hansen

Edler - Tanev

Bieksa - Hamhuis

Stanton - Sbisa

Miller

Colorado:

Landeskog - Duchene - Mackinnon

McGinn - O'Reilly - Iginla

Tanguay - Mitchell - Everberg

Mcleod - Cliche - Talbot

Hejda - Johnson

Stuart - Holden

Barrie - Guenin

Varlamov

PREGAME BATTLE HYMN

In honor of our impending Cali trip, a little art house hipster hard rock. I actually like 'El Cielo', Dredg's best album by far. The song 'Bugeyes' is a standout.

Sometimes the pretentiousness of music critics gets in the way of just enjoying a good jam.

BEER OF THE GAME

Good Colorado beers from Odell Brewing. Just try them all if you're thirsty.

Odell Beer

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

- 1 Drink: Vrbata scores an even strength non-empty net goal.

- 1 Drink: Someone stands up a MacKinnon dangle.

- 2 Drinks: Horvat records his first NHL point

- 2 Drinks: Shot of Patrick Roy yelling something at officials (hope you're thirsty)

- 3 Drinks: Shot of Patrick Roy yelling something at WD

- 3 Drinks: Miller shutout

- CHUG: Horvat hat trick

Parting thoughts from Michael Scott:

Be a boss Horvat. Be a boss.

SCORE PREDICTION WIZARD UPDATE

I don't know...Kent will update or I will soon. Train without a conductor right now:

R Swanson conductor

8-0 Canucks GWG Vrbata.

Tack your scores in the comments homies.

Stats compiled from: nhl.com, war-on-ice.com and puckalytics.com