A serious amount of hockey on for you folks who actually get the day off today, so sit back, stay warm and enjoy it all. How about those Canucks, eh? It was pretty easy to assume they'd have nothing left in the tank heading into Edmonton after taking out Anaheim the night before, but full credit for a solid effort. Not a perfect game, and that last couple minutes was definitely cringe inducing, but man is it awesome to see the way Bo Horvat is morphing into the leader of this team before our very eyes. A win tonight will put the Canucks within 1 point of Los Angeles and that last Wild Card spot. Now before you all go getting excited, remember this: The chances of the team making the playoffs right now are to put it mildly, slim at best. Yeah, the Canucks will need to win 28 more games minimum to make the playoffs. And they'd need at least six OTL's to help that along. That means any more than 10 regulation losses for the rest of the season could see them miss the post season. This could change depending on how other teams perform, but at least you can see what they're up against.
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|13.8 (28)||Power Play %||13.1 (29)|
|80.4 (21)||Penalty Kill %||79.0 (25)|
|52.0 (6)||Faceoff Win %||53.5 (2)|
||Shooting %||7.3 (29)|
||Corsi For %||47.0 (27)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
When Patrick Roy shocked the hockey world over the summer with his sudden resignation, people tried to figure out why he would walk away from what was essentially his dream job. Now? They seem to get exactly why he did. Like a rat fleeing a sinking ship, Roy couldn't get out of Denver fast enough, lest the stank of this team be worn for the rest of time. There are only a couple teams that the Canucks can look down at and say they're truly better than, and this is definitely one of them.
The thing is, they have some pretty good players. Nathan MacKinnon is a legit star, and Matt Duchene is no slouch either. But for whatever reason, they can't seem to find any cohesion as a group, and with Semyon Varlamov likely out with a groin injury, their lack of depth in goal is being exposed big time: Calvin Pickard has given up 15 in his last 3 starts. Along with Arizona, you're getting a preview of the front runners for that coveted first overall pick this week in Vancouver.
This is pretty simple: Don't screw this up. This is as close as a slam dunk 2 point game as this team will get, and if they truly believe they can battle for a wild card spot, then they need to prove it by handling the league's lesser than's in the Avalanche and Coyotes this week. And with a home and home with Calgary following those games, the Canucks could (and believe me it's not easy to wrap my head around this) have a 7 game win streak when it's all done. That is exactly the kind of run they will need, and likely more than once, to make the playoffs.
Since that horrifying collapse in Carolina, the Canucks are 5-2-1, and that's encouraging. In that stretch, their leading goal scorer is...
Bloody hell. It's never easy, is it. Expect the same lineup as Saturday in Edmonton, and Ryan Miller should get the nod tonight.
CANADA vs CZECH REPUBLIC
The quest for gold gets real today as the host team takes on the Czechs. Coming off a disappointing loss to the Americans Saturday afternoon, Canada is looking to rebound from that, and take on a pretty game Czech squad, with the winner facing either Slovakia or the powerhouse Swedes in the Semis. The other medal round games today see Russia taking on the Cinderella Danes, USA will meet the Swiss and the aforementioned Sweden/Slovakia tilt.
Kamloops Blazers goalie Connor Ingram gets the net today for Team Canada, and they've slotted Kale Clague in on defence to replace Philipe Myers. Myers was concussed in that game against the US Saturday, on a questionable high hit that resulted in no punishment for Luke Kunin.
The key for Canada is to stay focused and not look ahead. Work on the things that got them there, like their power play, which punished opponents up until Saturday's game. The Czechs aren't going to try and run and gun with the top scoring team of the tournament, so look for them to try their best to bottle up Canada's speed, clogging shooting and passing lanes as much as possible. The loss of Myers is big, but maybe that adversity, along with the loss Saturday can fuel this team to victory.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Some more homegrown metal for ya, this time from Vancouver's own Terrifier. Their album Weapons Of Thrash Destruction is out on the 20th of January on Test Your Metal Records, and as the lead track Reanimator shows, these guys aren't messing around. Seriously lethal riffs here from another kickass VanCity thrash band.