It’s amusing to watch the Canucks bury the Oilers alive, and stomach-wrenching to sit through a Blackhawks game. But let’s be honest; nothing is quite as exciting as playing Detroit. Now, with the Red Wings putting their record setting 23-game home win streak on the line and just the right amount of hatred between the two squads this season, the stage is set for a good old fashioned barn burner at Joe Louis Arena tonight.
For pure betting purposes, the Canucks are coming in with a massive advantage; Pavel Datsyuk is out 2-3 weeks for arthroscopic knee surgery. There is no player more revered in the NHL than Datsyuk for his relentless work ethic and checking abilities. His hands are poster boy candidates for the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” commercials and his knee blowing out makes the Canucks’ life significantly easier.
As much as his injury is an advantage for the Canucks, it also presents a difficulty: the Canucks need to test themselves against Detroit at full capacity before they face them in the playoffs. Not to mention beating Detroit without him feels somewhat similar to winning a gold medal at the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics. Regardless, excuses don’t keep records intact; it’s time to see just how good the Red Wings are on home ice.
Tonight’s game is also one of the last opportunities for the Canucks to test themselves against a legitimate Western Conference Cup contender before the playoffs start. All that remains is a single meeting against the Blues in a week and then the Blackhawks nearly a month from now. Even though the points are mildly irrelevant because both teams are almost guaranteed a playoff spot, rest assured that this is going to be the best hockey you will get to watch until the post season.
The Canucks and Red Wings have managed to dodge each other in the playoffs since 2001-’02. Now, unlike Pacqiao and Mayweather, this showdown is actually going to happen. Vancouver and Detroit hold the top 2 spots in the West and this season their positions are close to interchangeable; they are without a doubt the best and most consistent teams in the Western Conference and both will be looking to make deep playoff runs.
So grab a 6-pack and get ready to jersey up, because after tonight it’s a whole lot of Oilers, Stars, Avalanche and Coyotes games to (supposedly) look forward to.