Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 2/9/12
One of these things is not like the other!

What do the Minnesota Wild and the Vancouver Canucks have in common?

A Downward Spiral - "The Wild"

They’ve both been in first place in the West this season. Fortunately for the Canucks, they are the ones who are much closer to that spot than the Wild are.

The Canucks are a virtual lock to win the Northwest, so Minnesota is looking at the very best, a 4th place finish heading into the playoffs, but even that is unlikely.

There are of course a few story lines going into Thursday night’s tilt from the Xcel Energy Centre.

Let’s make no mistake, the story lines are I speak of are pretty huge, so let’s break them down faster than you can say Mikko Koivu Cooks with Miso.

Oh Captain, My Captain

The streak is sitting at 552 games for Henrik Sedin and it could very well come to a screeching halt Thursday. The Canucks’ captain was seen in a walking boot Wednesday and had a CT scan sometime in the afternoon.

Coach Vee said the team is, “…still waiting on results.” (all quotes from Canucks.com presser)

We should have a better idea Thursday morning with regards to his playing status against Minnesota but AV also said that if he is healthy enough to play, he will play.

Should he not be able to go, who knows what AV will do?

Maybe he reunites Daniel Sedin with Byron Bitz. They both recorded two points on the same two goals in the first period against Nashville.

Where does that leave the other lines? Well it leaves them possibly having to put Keith Ballard as a 12th forward if they can’t call someone up from Chicago in time for the game. Although the flight from one to the other would only be about two hours so it isn’t out of the question.

Finally Vigneault also stated, “…hopefully the streak will continue tomorrow.” He seems rather optimistic about Hank’s chances and who knows; maybe we will see the NHL’s most durable player back in the lineup Thursday night.

LUUUUU….SCHNUUUU

Alain Vigneault has made some very debatable decisions this season starting Cory Schneider in games this past month versus Boston and Chicago. This time he’s making a mistake for sure starting Cory against the Wild.

We all know the reasons why people argued against the decision to start Schneider in Boston. Well it was just babying Luongo and sheltering him from the Boston fans.

The same sort of thing could be said for Chicago.

Now the Wild come along; a team languishing and hanging by a thread in 8th place. At the same time, they only sit a few points back of 7th place LA.

My quam here has to do with the playoffs. Against teams like Boston, Chicago, and now Minnesota who are all teams we could face at some point in the playoffs, why on earth do you start Schneider. Teams already know how great he is so don’t tell me it’s to showcase him.

There are some story lines going into tonight’s tilt from the Xcel Energy Centre.

When the playoffs roll around, there is one man we are going to look to, to carry this team to the promise land. That man is Roberto Luongo.  Luongo will be the starter if we face Minny in the playoffs. Luongo will be the starter if we play Chicago in the playoffs.

ROBERTO LUONGO will be the man if we face Boston in the Finals again.

Yes, Luongo has a slightly less than stellar record in Minnesota, but why shelter him? That’s exactly what it is and I don’t like it.

Dale We…Naaah…Home Ice Disadvantage

Dale Weise also had a CT scan Wednesday for a shot he blocked versus Nashville so if him AND Henrik are both out Thursday, the Canucks are really screwed up front.

Alas, Weise is the last of my worries.

In fact, even if both of them are out, the Canucks should have this one; dare I say it? In the bag! I’m not encouraging taking the Wild for granted but the writing is on the wall.

First of all the Canucks had a much better game in Nashville, which suggests they MIGHT be emerging from this funk they’ve been in.

Next, the Wild have a 13-7-3 record at home this season, which at first glance, might seem pretty decent. Low and behold, that is only good enough for 13th in the West.

The Canucks on the other hand have the 1st ranked road record in the West and 2nd best overall.

Additionally, Vancouver has a league best record of 7-1-2 in their last 10 while Minny has gone 3-5-2 in the same span.

BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver

We’ve all become too accustomed to the Canucks crapping the bed against weaker teams but really, all they should have to do is get up for this one and try…just a little. Minny will be desperate given their bubble position playoffs wise but by all accounts, this game should go to the Canucks.

And not to Overtime.

Puck drop is at 5pm on Sportsnet Pacific.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSPORTSBEAT!

© Vancan19 for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012, Alain Vigneault, blender, Byron Bitz, Canucks, Canucks Blog, Canucks Matchups, Canucks vs. Wild, Canucks vs. Wild Gameday, Canucks vs. Wild Preview, captain, cody hosgon, Cory Schneider, ct scan, Dale Weise, Daniel Sedin, Game 54, Game Notes, game preview, Henrik Sedin, hockey blog, injured, Keith Ballard, martin erat, Minnesota, Minnesota Wild, NHL, NHL Preview, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Sportsnet West, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver vs. Minnesota, Wild, xcel energy centre

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