It’s been a long time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. However, don’t tell that to anyone in Vancouver. Time has done little to quell the vitriol and hostility Canucks fans harbour for the Boston Bruins. We’ll get a front row seat yet again this evening.
A win tonight would not only exact a minuscule fraction of revenge on the big, bad Bruins, but it would also give the Canucks two straight wins for the first time since before the All-Star Break when they won three in a row over Philadelphia, Carolina, and Florida.
Consistency has been a serious issue since mid-December and while it was nice that the Canucks built up a decent cushion due to their early success, this is certainly not the time to sit back and throw the collective vehicle into cruise control. A tough opponent tonight at home and then a quick trip to Calgary for a divisional matchup on Saturday, that has more at stake than it ever has in the last five years, makes for some exciting hockey. Again, a couple wins wouldn’t just boost the confidence in the team, both internally and externally, but it would also go a long way to improving the team’s standing amongst it’s peers.
Game Time: 7:00pm
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
For a team many critics thought would be vying for the division crown at this point in the season, the Bruins have looked remarkably average 54 games into the season. They currently sit in the second wild card spot, 4 points ahead of Florida, but having played two more games. The Canucks know just how that feels, as they too are on the precipice between playoff contention and missing the postseason. Their precarious positions should make for an entertaining game this evening, and while it is an east vs west matchup, don’t expect any punches to be pulled.
1. Offensive Struggles Over?
In the last three games, the Canucks have scored a total of 13 goals. Before that it took them seven games to score 13 goals. It’s a small sample size, but any time you have that sort of offensive production, it’s encouraging. In the last ten games, the Canucks rank among the worst teams in the league for team save percentage
Bottom 5 in team save % in last 10 games features 4 playoff teams and defending Champs. 26 – VAN 27 – WPG 28 – ANA 29 – NYI 30 – LA
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) February 12, 2015
I suppose they are in “good” company though… If things between the pipes can turn around and the offence continues to amount to more than the whole, there may be a few more spurts left in the tank. Perhaps even enough to take Vancouver to the playoffs.
2. Trade Talk
According to several sources around the internet, most notably Darren Dreger, the Canucks and Bruins could be in the midst of some serious trade talks. The two names that seem to keep coming up are Zack Kassian and Matt Bartkowski. It’s no secret that Kassian has been a little disenchanted with the way he’s being deployed and it would make sense for Jim Benning to do business with his former employer.
Bartkowski would add some much needed depth on the backend and at the moment, Zack Kassian is only helping his trade stock. It’s a strange feeling around Vancouver concerning the young power forward. I, for one, would like to see him stick around and assume a competitive role on the Canucks. However, if the coaching staff and management don’t see that taking shape, perhaps he’ll be wearing the spoked wheel later this year.
3. Dads Trip
It’s nice to see some of the people that helped support and shape current Canuck players into who they are today enjoy the fruits of the labour together. It’s even nicer when they get to see a win!
Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson are still out with injuries. While Brandon McMillan was claimed off waivers, he’ll likely be a healthy scratch. Ryan Miller will likely get the start in net, but other than that, expect the same lineup that dressed against Chicago to do so against Boston.
|D. Sedin||H. Sedin||Burrows|
Even though these teams only meet twice a year, there is enough contempt remaining from a rough 7 game series in 2011 to last at least a few more seasons. There will likely be a few skirmishes, and if I were a betting man, I’d throw a few stacks down on Derek Dorsett dropping the mitts. However, you will also likely hear both coaches explain how important two points are at this point in the season. Trench warfare may be a tad hyperbolic, but look for these two teams to attack when given opportunities and collapse defensively when in their own zone. I’ll pick the Canucks in a tight affair, 3-2. Though let’s be honest, all we really want are more Zack Kassian “celebrations”.