Canucks vs Capitals Game Preview - March 14, 2014

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Photo Courtesy of canucks.nhl.com

The Canucks continue to tread onwards to their next game, this time making a stop in the US capital to face Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

Last Game:

I remember a time when the Canucks could win a game, and we didn’t have a multitude of side stories to dissect afterwards.

First of all, Burrows scored a goal! Let that sink in for a bit. We are excited because a former 35 goal scorer finally scored in his 36th game of the year. The best part of the goal (his first of two), was the bench’s reaction to the tally. Even John Tortorella couldn’t hide his excitement that Burrows had finally put the puck in the net:

http://youtu.be/FuwBdx9uuGc

Burrows later added the tying goal in the third period, and the Canucks held on to force the game to a shootout where Chris Higgins scored the only goal. Eddie Lack rebounded nicely from a tough outing versus the New York Islanders on Monday.

The other main story from the game against Winnipeg was Jets’ forward Jim Slater’s knee-on-knee hit with Ryan Kesler. It was painful to watch the hit during the game, and it seems like Ryan Kesler will be out for a while with this injury.

The Washington Capitals:

The Washington Capitals continue to stumble along and are currently sitting on the outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.  As always, Alexander Ovechkin is the key to success for the Capitals, illustrated by the fact that Washington has gone 1-4-1 in its last 6 games with Oveckin only registering 2 points during that time frame. For a team led by such great players like Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, it is amazing that they seem to be unable to put it all together and enter the upper echelon of teams in the East.

Goaltending has always been an issue in Washington, so at the trading deadline the Capitals acquired Jaroslav Halak from the Buffalo Sabres. Halak has come in and given them some stability in net, but Washington continues to struggle after back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh.

Canucks Lines

With the injury to Ryan Kesler and the return of Zack Kassian from suspension, John Tortorella will be shuffling his lines again. Brad Richardson is still day-to-day with an unknown ailment. Eddie Lack should make the start in goal (as always, we will update the lines after the morning skate). Here’s how the lines might look:

Burrows – H. Sedin – Jensen

Higgins – Matthias – Hansen

 Kassian – Schroeder – Booth

Sestito – Dalpe – Weber

Hamhuis – Tanev

Edler – Bieksa

Stanton – Garrison

Lack

Storylines

1.  Because this IS big news…Burrows scored a goal! (two actually!)

After Burrows finally tallied his first of the season, you could say he had a quicker step to everything he did. It’s amazing how getting the monkey off your back can shift your ego and confidence. The line of Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin and rookie Nicklas Jensen looked good throughout the entire game. Hopefully now that Burrows and Henrik Sedin have broken their slumps, they can continue to build on it.

2. Is Evgeni Kuznetsov the real deal?

When Washington drafted Evgeni Kuznetsov, 26th overall in the 2010 NHL entry draft, they knew that it would be at least two years before he would leave the Kontinental Hockey League to join the NHL. It ended up being four years, as Kuznetsov finally signed an entry level deal last week and joined the Capitals. He possesses game breaker speed and a wicked wrist shot, but transitioning from the Russian KHL to the NHL is a bit of a learning curve. I watched the last game that the Capitals played, and it appears only a matter of time before Kuznetsov breaks out and gives the Capitals much needed scoring depth.

3. Can Kassian earn Tortorella’s trust again?

Like the majority of Canucks fans, I am forever perplexed by Zack Kassian. One game he scores beautiful goals, makes perfect saucer passes and is dominant. The next game, he hits someone from behind and gets suspended again. Labelled as a ‘repeat offender’, he will be hard pressed to earn his ice time, especially as Nicklas Jensen seems to have played his way onto the first line, while Kassian continues to toil in the bottom 6.

Prediction

If an NHL hockey game was only 2 periods, my last prediction would’ve made me look like a genius. I correctly predicted the Canucks would get a 3-0 lead, I just didn’t predict the Canucks giving up 7 goals in the third period against the Islanders. As a full-time member of ‘Tank Nation’, I am going to predict the Canucks fall 3-1 to Washington.

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Ryan Biech Hockey writer for Vancity Buzz
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