Here's what they're up against:
That's one hell of a log jam. So you can see that anything less than a sweep this weekend is going to be a disappointment. And while the Canucks have been playing better of late as they strung together these 5 wins, this is a playoff-like test for them that could show whether or not it's actually going to be a good thing for them to snag one of these wild card slots come April.
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|13.9 (27)||Power Play %||20.7 (10)|
|80.3 (21)||Penalty Kill %||81.6 (16)|
|52.4 (5)||Faceoff Win %||49.5 (17)|
||Shooting %||9.3 (10)|
||Corsi For %||49.1 (19)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
Stop me if you've heard this one, but the Canucks are going to play against a team with a young player that they chose not to draft and are possibly going to regret that down the road. While it's not the list of guys still available when they took Jake Virtanen, and there was a definite need to get a D man for the future, it's sure starting to look like Matthew Tkachuk is the real deal.
He's got 7 goals, set up 16 others for 23 points, and while he's not going to win the Calder because of the Laine/Matthews battle for supremacy/media attention, can you say he's been any less important to his team than either of these two? He's riding a 7 game point streak, in that time the Flames are 11-4. But it's not just points that he's putting up.
Matthew Tkachuk is having a fantastic rookie season. No other forward has had a bigger positive impact on spiking their team's shot rate.— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 5, 2017
The Canucks are going to have their hands full with him and the rest of this speedy, Flames team and they better be ready from puck drop, or these playoff dreams are going to come crashing back to earth.
Yeah they might need some help from the out of town scoreboard, but with regulation wins tonight and tomorrow the Canucks can leapfrog the Flames and move to within striking distance of the 3rd place Oilers. As the season wears on, you can see how some of the teams in or near a playoff spot are definitely taking advantage of Bettman points. There's only one way to combat this: stop handing out these points to conference opponents.
One thing that might take the sting out of letting Tkachuk slip away would be another big game from Sven Baertschi. The former Flame is on a tear of his own, with 12 points in his last 11 games, and GWG in the last 2. I haven't seen who's gonna get the start tonight, likely Miller tonight and then Markstrom tomorrow in Calgary, but it could go either way. Miller was solid this week, so we will see how Willie decides on the usage.
Finally, congrats to the USA on winning the gold last night at the WJC in Montreal. What American fans and journos need to stop is the BS about the shootout not being a total garbage way to decide a championship. You know you'd feel that way if your team lost so cut the crap.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
EXERSIUM hail from Bogota, Columbia and like many bands from that area of the planet, are unsurprisingly angry and politically charged. This is my first listen, but I dig what I hear so far.