Avalanche at Canucks 7:00 on Rogers SportsnetThe Flying Five – five storylines to follow heading into tonight’s game.
Canucks can’t close
The Vancouver Canucks failed to close out the LA Kings on Monday, dropping an overtime loss to their playoff rivals in a 3-2 shootout loss. The loser point was especially tough to take for Canucks fans who watched their team ice a solid first forty minutes of play before backing off the pressure in the third, allowing the Kings a number of opportunities to tie the game. With the goalie pulled and the game on the line the Kings got the home bounce they needed, and managed to steal two points in the process. Tonight the Canucks need to go back to the basics and focus on icing a full sixty-minute effort against the injury-riddled Avalanche. The Canucks have blown a lead after forty minutes twice during their first six games and can’t afford to continue the pattern tonight at Rogers Arena.
Avalanche of injuries
The Avalanche will be without a number of talented players for tonight’s game after a series of serious injuries have held back Colorado’s start to the season. Steve Downie is out for the year with a knee injury and captain Gabriel Landeskog is expected to be out again tonight with what is assumed to be a concussion. Holdout Ryan O’Reilly has a minor ankle sprain according to Adrian Dater, and is expected to stay off the ice while it heals. Alain Vigneault is expected to wait for warm-ups to decide on his starting lineup tonight after citing injury concerns as justification for the late call.
AV says all forwards will dress for warmup and line decisions will be made after. He needs to factor in injuries. #Canucks
— Ann Schmaltz (@annschmaltz) January 30, 2013
In addition to injury troubles, history doesn’t offer any good news for the Avalanche as they head into their first meeting of the season with the Canucks. Vancouver has dominated the head-to-head matchup over the past few years, having lost only once to the Avalanche over the last nine games at Rogers Arena. Unfortunately for the Avalanche home ice advantage hasn’t helped their cause, the Canucks have won seven straight against the Avs, part of a 17-game unbeaten streak. All the ingredients are in place for the Canucks to keep their streak alive against the Avs tonight in Vancouver.
Canucks: 15-0-2 in last 17 games vs Avalanche
— THE STATS GUY (@TH2NSTATSGUY) January 30, 2013
Luongo vs. Varlamov
Alain Vigneault didn’t name his entire starting lineup Wednesday morning, but did name Roberto Luongo as his starting goaltender, creating a mini-controversy from his scrum at the morning skate. Luongo is expected to start against the Avs after icing a solid game against the Kings Monday. Luongo hardly deserved the loss after falling victim to a bad bounce following a solid 59 minutes in the crease. While Luongo played well in Los Angeles, Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks is undoubtedly the Canucks’ most important game of the week, and is likely the reason Schneider is being “saved” tonight. Semyon Varlamov is expected to start opposite Luongo tonight at Rogers Arena.
In addition to injuries woes, the Avalanche just can’t figure out how to kill penalties consistently. Colorado allowed four power play goals to the Oilers on Monday and will need to be disciplined against the Canucks tonight in Vancouver. “We have to pick it up on our special teams, there is no question,” head coach Joe Sacco told the media Monday following the loss. The Canucks have tallied four power play goals over their two wins to start the season.
Projected Score: 4-1 Canucks capitalize on banged-up Avs. 3-3, 1 bang-on.