Canucks vs Flames Game Day Report: Date Night

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Canucks Game Day Flames

The Canucks roll into Calgary for a Valentine’s Day date night with the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Flames (30-22-3) sit 4th in the tightly contested Pacific Division. The Canucks currently hold down 3rd spot in the Pacific Division by only 2 points on the aforementioned Flames.

Matchup

Game Time: 7:00 pm

TV: CBC

The Canucks are building momentum coming off of two excellent wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins. Last night, the Canucks were bolstered by a hat-trick from the steadily improving Shawn Matthias and cruised to a 5-2 win against the Bruins. While Canucks Nation will always feel that hatred towards the Bruins, this year’s version of the big, bad Bruins is a far cry from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Last night,The Bruins did very little in the way of intimidation and appeared to have limited pushback once the Canucks took the lead. 

No doubt, team’s evolve over time. As the Bruins appear to be taking a bit of step back from their usual contender status, the Calgary Flames are taking a step forward. The Flames have surprised most everyone (including themselves) and are challenging for a playoff spot. Tonight’s game is an important one for the Canucks given where the Flames are in the standings. The Canucks need to get some separation from the Wild Card teams and a regulation win tonight would be an excellent first step.

Storylines

1. Calgary Love-fest?

It may be Valentine’s Day, but the Flames are getting zero love from the Canucks this evening. The Flames are a team that somehow has found a way to stay in the playoff picture in the Western Conference for most of the season despite a roster that suggests they should be a bottom-dweller. The analytics proponents will tell you that the Flames success so far this season is not sustainable. A combination of very good goaltending and a high shooting percentage can only last so long (if you don’t believe me then research the Toronto Maple Leafs). A Canucks win tonight may be the first nail in the coffin of the Flames playoff hopes.

To all those Flames fans sitting smugly in the Scotiabank Saddledome thinking the Flames are a “special team”, you are dumber than you think. See what I did there?

2. Shawn Matthias

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Image: canucks.nhl.com

Shawn Matthias has impressed more than a few Canucks fans this season. Even before last night’s hat-trick Matthias has been looked upon more and more as a pending UFA that must be re-signed by Jim Benning. Matthias possesses the speed and size that teams covet and perhaps he is turned into a late-bloomer as a player that has the ability to score 20 goals consistently.

3. Adam Clendening

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Image: canucks.nhl.com

It’s early days, but Canucks fans have to like how Adam Clendening has played in his first few games in Vancouver. Clendening reminds me a little bit of Chris Tanev with higher offensive upside. The knock on Clendening is that he needs to work on his defensive game, but Canucks fans have seen Clendening look rather calm in his own end. He makes quick outlet passes and makes smart decisions. Again, it’s early, but it appears that Jim Benning landed a very solid defenceman for a player (Gustav Forsling) who is years away from being NHL ready.

Lineup

The Canucks are going with the exact same lineup as last night’s big win over the Bruins, which includes starting Ryan Miller for the second straight night.

 

 D. Sedin H. Sedin Burrows
Higgins Vey Vrbata
Kassian Matthias Dorsett
Kenins Horvat Hansen
Edler Tanev
Hamhuis Sbisa
Stanton Clendening
Miller

Prediction

The Canucks have finally managed to string together 2 solid games in a row after a stretch of playing consistently inconsistent. Despite being the tired team, the Canucks will use some of that mojo gained from wins against the Blackhawks and Bruins . The Canucks defeat the Flames 4-1 and many a Flames fan heart is broken.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
@ianlusher

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