Canucks vs Wild Game Day Report: The Playoff Push

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Canucks Game Day Wild

The Canucks face a very familiar foe today, as the Minnesota Wild are in town for their third meeting in the last 15 days. After securing two impressive wins against Chicago and Boston, the tired Canucks lost 3-2 to the Flames on Saturday night. They now face the Minnesota Wild, who are 8-0-2 in their last ten games and are charging up the Western Conference standings.

Matchup

Game Time: 7:00 pm

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

Whoever made the schedule needs to review their work. Although the Wild aren’t boring and dull like they used to be, having to face them three times in just over two weeks is cruel. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if the Canucks weren’t outscored 9-4 in the previous two meetings. These two points are extremely important as the Wild are only two points behind the Canucks. Who knew that Devan Dubnyk would be the cure to all the Wild’s problems?

Storylines

1. Everyone Getting Injured

edler1

Image: canucks.nhl.com

Although we don’t know exactly how or when Alex Edler got injured, Canucks fans should be worried. Edler’s injury comes at the worst possible time as the Canucks are already without Kevin Bieksa and Frank Corrado. That is half of their top-6 defencemen out of the lineup. Any team would be in trouble with that type of loss, but it could be a death sentence for a team battling for a playoff spot.

These types of injuries force other players to play more minutes than they are accustomed to. With Edler sidelined for half the game on Saturday, Luca Sbisa played 19:49, Ryan Stanton played 17:28 and Adam Clendening played 18:29. If Edler is gone for more games, those type of minutes are going to be commonplace for Sbisa, Stanton, Clendening and Yannick Weber.

All this and I still haven’t mentioned that the Canucks are currently missing Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson. Hopefully they can whether this injury bug and stay in the playoff picture.

2. Power Forwards

Matthias

Image: canucks.nhl.com

When the Canucks faced the Wild two weeks ago, Zack Kassian was a healthy scratch and Shawn Matthias had yet to become an offensive force. It’s amazing the difference two weeks makes. Including his hattrick on Friday night, Matthias has 5 goals in his last 5 games and Kassian just had his 5-game point streak snapped on Saturday. It seems that the two big guys seems to have some chemistry playing together.

With injuries to Bonino and Richardson, Matthias was moved back to his natural centre position. Meanwhile, Zack Kassian is trying to keep his spot in the lineup. It could be premature to say but maybe the Canucks have finally found the power forwards that they have been craving for so long.  These two are sending a strong message to the franchise that they want to be here, now they have to back it up with consistency.

3. Bo Knows

As Wyatt said Bo Horvat has ‘Future Captain’ written all over him. Since the All-Star break, Horvat has looked like everything the Canucks hoped for when they drafted him. In the 10 games since the break, Horvat has 7 points and is 53% in the faceoff circle. I don’t think you can expect much more from a 4th line centre, let alone a 19-year-old rookie.

Another great sign is that no matter who is on his line, they have been noticeable every game. It’s refreshing to see, after years of the Canucks not being able to ice a serviceable 4th line. It would be unfair to place unrealistic expectations on Horvat, but I think the Canucks might have something special with him.

Lineup

*Update:

Alex Edler is injured and will not play. The Canucks have called up defenceman Alex Biega from Utica, but he will sit in the press box alongside newcomer Brandon McMillan. Rookie Adam Clendening will take Edler’s spot on the power play. Eddie Lack will start in goal.

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

Prediction

With injuries mounting on the back-end and Minnesota making a charge up the standings, this may not go well for the Canucks. To make matters worse for Vancouver, Minnesota goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been lights out since joining the Wild last month. The Wild will take this one 4-2.

I can handle a loss as long as former Canuck Jordan Schroeder doesn’t score again, because that just makes it so much worse.

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Ryan Biech Hockey writer for Vancity Buzz
@ryanbiech

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