Canucks vs Penguins Game Day Report: Willie Cracks the Whip

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Canucks Game Day Penguins

It’s almost must-win time as the Canucks embark on a Saturday night game against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rogers Arena.

The Penguins (30-14-8) sit 1st in Metropolitan Division while the Canucks look to get back on track in front of their home fans.

Matchup

Game Time: 7:00 pm

TV: CBC

The Canucks are coming off of what many feel is their worst effort of the season with a dismal 5-1 Thursday night loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks dominated early and kept on coming despite being the tired team, having played the night before against the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks simply are not playing with any urgency. Put it this way, the Canucks are doing very little these days to convince anyone that their team is any better than last year’s disaster.

Storylines

1. Willie Desjardins Starts to Crack

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8AawhP7ujE

Canucks Nation saw a different side of Willie Desjardins after Thursday night’s loss against the Sharks. Desjardins didn’t exactly come to the defence of Henrik Sedin when speaking on Henrik’s rare unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and indirectly accused the bulk of his team of not working hard enough (except for the Horvat line). Clearly the coach isn’t pleased and we may see a little more authoritative Willie Desjardins for the remainder of the season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx4jn77VKlQ

2. Intense Practice

It wasn’t just an ordinary practice for the Canucks on Friday. With the Tragically Hip taking over Rogers Arena on Thursday, the Canucks took to the ice at UBC.

Willie Desjardins was still fired up from his team’s performance the night before and was more vocal than usual.

Willie got some emotion from his players after that.

These may seem like unlikely combatants, although Weber also got into a scuffle with Derek Dorsett earlier this season. These things happen when a team gets frustrated and the coach gets the team into battle drills at practice. Both players said all the right things after practice.

Willie Desjardins is cracking the whip and for one practice at least, the players are responding.

3. Daniel Sedin

Daniel-Sedin

Image: canucks.nhl.com

There is very little doubt that Daniel Sedin’s days as a sniper were numbered quite some time ago. Daniel is still a very useful player and an excellent passer, but his ability to be a one shot scorer has disappeared. Jim Benning made the free agent signing of the the offseason by penning Radim Vrbata to a 2-year deal. This signing, for good or bad depending on your point of view, has kept the Canucks relevant in the playoff hunt. The reality is the day the Sedin’s anchor the second line is the day the Canucks become a contender again.

Lineup

Injuries are starting to catch up to the Canucks.

The Canucks held an optional morning practice on Saturday, with Higgins, Tanev and Hamhuis taking to the ice. Frank Corrado will be out “for a bit” according to Desjardins and Richardson will remain out as well. Chris Tanev is a game time decision, while Zack Kassian may draw back into the lineup.

 

If Kassian draws back in, it might be for Chris Higgins, who is banged up, or for rookie Ronalds Kenins. They could also scratch Linden Vey in favour of Kassian, which would involve Shawn Matthias to centre.

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

Prediction

The Canucks are in a bit of trouble in their 6-game home stand and the Penguins aren’t exactly a get well card. Despite the Penguins playing the second of back-to-back games, I do not like the Canucks’ chances. The Canucks are too inconsistent and too complacent at the moment. Pittsburgh wins 4-1 and Crosby single-handedly justifies the price of admission.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
@ianlusher

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