Canucks at Blackhawks 5:30 on Rogers SportsnetThe Flying Five – five storylines to follow heading into tonight’s game.
Booth is back
The Vancouver Canucks will be rejoined by another top-six forward as they begin a four-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at the Madhouse on Madison. Booth is expected to join Dale Weise and Maxim Lapierre on Vancouver’s fourth line tonight, easing his way back into the lineup after dealing with groin problems to start the season. Don’t be surprised if Alain Vigneault elects to juggle his lines with Booth in a number of different configurations on Tuesday. Just as Ryan Kesler’s presence on the ice may have been more impactful than his actual on-ice contribution, Booth’s return to the lineup gives the Canucks another dynamic in a deep and talented forwards corps.
Streaking at 16
The Chicago Blackhawks are playing for a piece of history tonight as they take on the Canucks in game 16 of their NHL season. The ‘Hawks have yet to lose in regulation all year, and could tie an NHL record for consecutive games with a point to start a season tonight with a win or ovetime loss to their rivals. While the Canucks proved revenge wasn’t a top priority during their first matchup against the Blackhawks this season, the opportunity to play spoiler at the Madhouse is surely a huge motivator heading into tonight’s contest. After Duncan Keith’s hit to the head of Daniel Sedin allegedly started the downturn of the NHL’s top team last season, the Canucks would like nothing more than to end Chicago’s reign as the team to beat in this year’s young campaign.
Keith in the crosshairs
Duncan Keith will be in the crosshairs of the Canucks once again after becoming public enemy #1 in Vancouver with an elbow to the head of Daniel Sedin last season. The Canucks remained discipline in their first matchup against the Blackhawks, but made sure to finish their checks every time Chicago’s best defenceman touched the puck throughout the course of the game. Keith can expect more of the same tonight from Vancouver’s forecheck, but will be without his usual partner on the blue line to provide time and space. Brent Seabrook is expected to sit out of tonight’s game after a ballsy shot block against the Kings. There are some injuries that transcend hockey tough.
#Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was asked during media scrum where Brent Seabrook was hit with the puck the other night: “Somewhere.”
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) February 19, 2013
Schneider vs. Emery
Cory Schneider is expected to start opposite Ray Emery tonight at the United Center. Schneider earns the start for the Canucks after both goaltenders traded disappointing losses over the weekend. Schneider was in net for Vancouver’s streak-snapping loss to the Stars on Friday, but finds himself back in the crease after watching Roberto Luongo play to a shootout loss Sunday against the Blues. Emery will make his sixth start of the season for the Blackhawks tonight, taking over for Cory Crawford as Chicago’s starter deals with an upper-body injury. Emery is undefeated so far this season posting a 2.17 GAA and .929 save percentage through five games played.
While Duncan Keith will likely receive special attention from the Canucks on Tuesday night, forward Patrick Kane is equally important for the visitors if they wish to avoid becoming a part of history. Kane was held without a point for the first time in nine games against the Kings on Sunday, but can be expected to find the score sheet again tonight against his rivals. Kane tallied seven goals and five assists during his eight-game streak, and can be expected to give Cory Schneider fits again tonight. Kane has 8 goals and 17 points in 21 career games against the Canucks.
Projected Score: 4-3 Canucks play spoiler and stop the streak short of 16.
Record: 9-5, 2 bang-on.
— Flying V Blog (@FlyingVBlog) February 19, 2013