With the manufactured drama of Saturday behind them, the Canucks are out on the road, with a surprising 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. That's good if they want to make the playoffs. They're taking on a New Jersey team that has won just 3 in their last 10. Problem is they're also the only team in the NHL to still not have lost in regulation at home.
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|13.9 (26)||Power Play %||15.4 (20)|
|85.3 (8)||Penalty Kill %||85.5 (5)|
|51.0 (9)||Faceoff Win %||50.1 (13)|
||Shooting %||8.5 (20)|
||Corsi For %||47.8 (25)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
Another opportunity to see how the Canucks stack up to a team that is slightly above them or at worst a comparable, the New Jersey Devils. There's a lot of sorta new faces on this Devils team that are familiar to Canucks fans, most notably Taylor Hall, who was traded from Edmonton for Adam Larsson over the summer. Hall hasn't been tearing it up, but has been injured a bit and as we've seen, once he gets going he can be a pretty dominant player. They also have Devante Smith-Pelly and Vernon Fiddler, former of Anaheim and Dallas respectively, and then there's that goalie, the red-headed kid.
The Devils seem like they should be doing better as they continue to evolve. Adding Hall is a big step, he's a legit star player who along with Schneider should be the leaders for this team moving forward. They play in a very tough division though, and to their credit they've been battling hard, reaching OT 12 times already this season. Along with Hall, Michael Cammalleri and Travis Zajac have been solid for the Devils this season, and have gotten 5 goals from PA Parenteau already.
Sure, we could wax poetic about what if the Canucks hadn't gone completely mental and screwed up the best goaltending tandem in the NHL, starting a spiral that has burrowed this team into the NHL's sub-basement, but what's the point? It happened, and that pick that seemed like a pretty diminished return at the time has given us a guy in Bo Horvat who is clearly moving into the spotlight as the leader and face of the franchise as it shifts away from the Sedins.
Besides, there's other things that this team has to worry about. Let's start with the Derek Dorsett news, shall we? It's not so much that Dorsett's absence has hurt the Canucks, if anything you could point to their record and say that they're better without him. But it's the news that his surgery was to repair a neck issue that the Canucks knew was a problem when they brought him to Vancouver that is so worrisome. Why on earth would Jim Benning willingly bring in damaged goods like this? It was at best a gamble, and for a team that's struggling to stay relevant, one that makes zero sense. Another move that really makes one question if the brain trust of this team has a freaking clue as to what they're doing.
The worst part about Dorsett going on LTIR is this should have been a chance for Jake Virtanen to show his stuff, but he's been pretty underwhelming in Utica, and that means more Michael Chaput, Joe LaBate, Jayson Megna and Jack Skille. It's still early, but it's very worrisome that Virtanen may not be the player they thought he was, and that's one heck of a draft bust if that's the case. Let's hope Travis Green can get through to him and get him back on track.
I have to say this about the other night, despite Ryan Miller's performance, I stand by what I said about him. We're seeing these kinds of performances less and less, and it's not to anyone's benefit that Jacob Markstrom is on the bench for such long stretches. He should be getting the start tonight, but honestly I won't be surprised if Willie puts Miller in again.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
It wouldn't be a visit to New Jersey without a shoutout to the greatest band in the state's history: Overkill (yes, fuck Bon Jovi. Seriously). They were the first band I ever interviewed way back on the Years Of Decay tour, and are still going as hard as ever. Here's some of my favorite Overkill tracks for ya!