Vancouver Canucks (18-10-2) at Carolina Hurricanes (9-18-5)
7:00 p.m., RBC Center
TV: FS-Carolinas, Sportsnet-Vancouver
It's unknown that all general managers look at all of these advanced stats that are gaining popularity on the Internet, but I suspect that Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks might be one of them. He's made some very good trades over the past year where the Canucks acquired a low-PDO player for not much of a cost. The most recent one being the trade for David Booth in exchange for Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsson. Booth is a very talented player who hasn't been getting any luck the last two seasons with Florida (PDO is 934 this year), and Gillis was able to take advantage of Dale Tallon "selling low" on him and was able to snag a top-six forward for two expiring contracts.
I wouldn't be surprised to see more GM's do something similar and the Hurricanes are in a position where another team can take advantage of them via trade or vice versa. With the chances of a playoff birth being all but done, it's all about rebuilding now and there's a few under and over acheiving players who may be dealt this year. Will Jim Rutherford be able to get more or less value for the players he trades this year? We'll see. He was able to turn Sergei Samsonov's expiring contract into Bryan Allen, who has been the team's best defenseman last year so I have faith.
This is related because Carolina's game tonight is against Gillis' Canucks and it has the potential to be very ugly for us. I do have some faith because Carolina has played some of their better games this year against good teams. They do own victories over Chicago, Pittsburgh and Boston so I wouldn't get too pessimistic. The absence of our leading goal scorer and one of our best defenseman will make things very difficult, though.
Lines, analysis & more after the jump
Dwyer - Staal - Tlusty
Ponikarovsky - Jokinen - Ruutu
Bowman - Sutter - LaRose
Nodl - Brent - Stewart
Gleason - McBain
Faulk - Spacek
Allen - Joslin
D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Higgins - Kesler - Hansen
Raymond - Hodgson - Lapierre
Rome - Malhotra - Weise
Hamhuis - Bieksa
Salo - Edler
Ballard - Alberts
Getting to know the Canucks
Vancouver is really hurting from injuries right now and most of the guys out are their depth forwards. Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Volpatti, Steve Pinizzotto have all missed the last five games with injuries and David Booth is out for at least a month with a knee ailment. There are so many players out that they've been using spare defensemen as forwards the last few games and there's a good chance that Aaron Rome might be starting on their fourth line tonight. This along with not getting the best goaltending from Roberto Luongo has put them in a position lower than they expected to be at this point...fifth place in the Western Conference. The horror!
The Canucks should be on the upward swing the rest of the way as they are one of the best teams at controlling play with a 55.6% Fenwick rating with the score tied. What's holding them down is sub-par goaltending and some bad puck luck. Aside from that, the 'Nucks are killing it and should find themselves on top of the Northwest in due time. 57% corsi with the score tied, top five powerplay and a top 10 penalty kill. Not too much to dislike there but the injuries aren't helping them in terms of making up for lost ground.
- It's time for another edition of "Guess The Lineup" staring Kirk Muller. We can expect a lot of changes the next few weeks with Jeff Skinner out of the lineup. My concern today is with the defense pairings, though. McBain and Gleason are doing awful as a unit with only 3 scoring chances created compared to 15 against at even strength. Small sample size? Yes, but these two clearly haven't been good at all together.
- Jay Harrison appears to be sitting this one out even though he's been practicing again. I was thinking that he would be inserted in the lineup for Joslin at one point but I guess they want to give Joslin a few more looks since he's played well with Bryan Allen.
- Drayson Bowman was one of our better forwards against the Leafs on Tuesday and I'm hoping his good play can spread to the rest of the line. These three were very good last season despite Bowman failing to score a goal and I think good things will come their way soon.
- Carolina's powerplay has been slightly improving the last few games as they have PPG's in three of the last four games. They are still struggling in terms of getting chances on net. Less than 1.5 chances per 2 minute powerplay. They are going up against a strong PK tonight, too.
- This a perfect game to reunite Allen and Gleason because Alain Vingleaut loves to give the Sedins favorable zone starts (>80% OZone this year) and it would be great to get a legit shutdown pair up against them. It's going to be a tough task even if these two are reunited.
- The PK got lucky against Toronto but it would be best not to play with fire against this Canucks PP unit. They are extremely dangerous with the man advantage and too many stupid penalties could end this one early.
- Remember the "March Towards .500?" Yeah...that's been going in the opposite direction the last few games. The team's scoring chance percentage with the score tied is 46.7% percent and the team corsi is about the same. Let's hope we can get the "march" going in the right direction again. Hell, if we can manage to do it in tonight's game then that's an accomplishment.
Enjoy the game.
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