Nothing like kicking off a new year between two Pacific teams that are punching above their weight this far. Then again when six Pacific teams are within five points of one another, it's easy to expect this back and forth to continue well into March or when your doctor tells you to stop watching sports because your blood pressure is orbiting Jupiter. Let the anger flow through you friends.
The Coyotes are terrible on the road, but hold a 7-1-2 record against the other Pacific mouth breathers which is why we're looking up at them instead of eye to eye in joyous mediocrity. Much of their success effort lands at the feet of their three headed offensive monster (Boedker, Domi and Ekman-Larsson) but a tip of the cap to Louis Domingue as well thanks to his spiffy .923S% and one shutout in seven games. Small sample size sure, but as the custodians of the goalie graveyard, we have learned to appreciate a netminding upstart.
On the good guys side, Prust still walks amongst us after Ryan Kesler...no, I'm not finishing that sentence. With the exception of the Ducks and Flyers because I assume there is a Chis Pronger curse at work (hooray!), the Canucks are trending dangerously close to one of the worst offenses in the league. Their pop gun offense is made worse with their special teams woes. Could putting McCann on the PP2 help change their fortunes? Probably not, but prove us wrong and we'll gladly eat crow. Markstrom gets his fifth start behind a defense that still hasn't plunged into the toilet without Tanev so small miracles can happen.
Human Guinea Pig Formations
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Jannik Hansen
Alexandre Burrows - Bo Horvat - Radim Vrbata
Chris Higgins - Jared McCann - Derek Dorsett
Brandon Prust - Adam Cracknell - Linden Vey
Alexander Edler - Chris Tanev
Ben Hutton - Yannick Weber
Matt Bartkowski - Alex Biega
Max Domi - Antoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker
Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan
Tobias Rieder - Viktor Tikhonov - Anthony Duclair
Kyle Chipchura - Laurent Dauphin - Steve Downie
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy
Nicklas Grossmann - Michael Stone
Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek
Since we can't blame Virtanen for everything, let's roll the dice and say Bo Horvat picks the new year to bump the slump and Vrbs gets the GW because every good story needs a fun ending.
...and I did all of this without mentioning All Star John Scott. Phew.