VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs CALGARY FLAMES
6:30PM PST SCOTIABANK SADDLEDOME, CALGARY, AB
TV: SPORTSNET, SN1, SN360. RADIO: SN650.
OPPOSITION BLOG: MATCHSTICKS AND GASOLINE
They’re good. They’re bad. They’re mediocre. Who the hell actually knows with this team, because there’s a million different ways to look at what’s going on with the Vancouver Canucks and they’re all as clear as mud. At the end of the day, they’ve somehow clawed their way back into a playoff spot thanks to 4 straight wins, and can finish the month at 8-5-0 (which seems surprising, when you think back) and sets them up good for a week with two more home games before a lengthy 5 game Eastern swing.
The problem is not many of the wins they pulled off in December were terribly convincing, with last night’s being a prime example. Thoroughly outshot and outperformed by Los Angeles, they got another stellar night out of Jacob Markstrom, who stopped a career high 49 of 51 shots to help the Canucks steal one from the Kings. And sure, there’s something to be said about finding ways to win. There’s also nothing but positives about your number one goalie doing what he’s supposed to do: give you a chance to win every night. What’s not good is the volume of shots they’re giving up right now. Teams are eating them alive, and relying on your goalie to bail you out every night is not a formula for success.
That’s not to say that Markstrom was the only good player on the ice last night. Jake Virtanen had another strong game, scoring his 11th of the season, and was a threat along with Adam Gaudette and Antoine Roussel all night long. That 3rd line is really starting to come together, and that should help take pressure off the top 6. Troy Stecher had a whale of a game, making smart plays and utilizing his surprisingly physical game to eliminate chances for the Kings. And mere seconds after the Kings tied it, the top line responded, as you would expect them to, restoring the lead (that would hold up) under 20 seconds after the Kings scored.
No real changes, but considering Markstrom’s workload last night, it’s a fairly safe bet that Thatcher Demko gets the nod in goal tonight. Here’s what we should see, courtesy nhl.com:
Canucks projected lineup
Flames projected lineup
That Sam Bennett healthy scratch looks a little odd, but I guess he’s not 19 year old Sam Bennett anymore. With a win tonight, the Canucks can actually vault into 2nd place in the Pacific (with an Arizona regulation loss) thanks to games in hand, so finding motivation for this game won’t be an issue. The Flames are a better team at home than they are on the road, and have won 6 of their last 10, but only 2 of their last 6.
Some interesting facts about last night’s victory:
Giving his team a 3-2 lead that they wouldn't relinquish shortly after the Kings had tied it tonight, Elias Pettersson has tied for 2nd on this list of @Canucks to provide critical scoring early in their NHL careers pic.twitter.com/EBhG9uI70k— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) December 29, 2019
#Canucks win a regular-season home game when allowing 50 shots on goal for the first time in franchise history— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 29, 2019
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN:
2019 was a year that saw some metal veterans come back with outstanding new output, like Sacred Reich and New Orleans groove thrashers EXHORDER. Known by some as the band that sounded suspiciously like Pantera before Pantera sounded like Pantera, they’d been defunct for decades, but this year’s ‘Mourn The Southern Skies’ finds them not just having every bit of piss and venom they had when they left, but a maturity that was missing from ‘The Law’ and ‘Slaughter In The Vatican’. This is well worth seeking out if you’re a fan of groove-laden hooks with a little snarling aggression.