Despite coughing up a pair of leads to the Red Wings on Friday night in Detroit, the Canucks finally bumped the slump, gathering two points for the first time in nine days. As they continue on to the Sunshine State, they’ll be up against a feisty Florida Panthers team and a familiar face.
Game Time: 1:00 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
It seems the expectations for Florida are almost always very low. So, even when they bring in a world-class goaltender (Roberto Luongo), an uber-talented veteran presence (Jaromir Jagr), and plenty of young stars (Huberdeau, Barkov, Ekblad, etc.), not much is expected.
The Panthers (17-12-4) are currently in a playoff spot, and have won three in a row. They have been scoring by committe, as Jussi Jokinen (7-16-23) leads the team in scoring. Florida has also been getting great goaltending from you-know-who…
1. Remember me?
It has been nearly 22 months since Roberto Luongo was traded from the Vancouver Canucks to the Florida Panthers following a rocky season and an unpleasant uncoupling.
Since he was shipped to the Panthers in March of 2014, Luongo has played his former team 3 times, posting a record of 1-1-1 with a SV% of .932, and 2.00 GAA.
2 years ago: ???? 1 year ago: ???? Today : ☕️???? #NHLTradeDeadline
— Strombone (@strombone1) March 2, 2015
Additionally, Luongo has had a great beginning to this season. He is top-10 in every major goaltending category and shows no signs of letting up now.
You better believe Roberto circles games against his former team on the calendar.
2. Youngsters making a difference
The youth movement taking hold in Vancouver is an exciting one. Sure, it likely signals that this team and succeeding iterations of it may get worse before they get better, but it affords the fans, coaches, and management alike to get a good look at their prospects and how they react in an NHL environment.
Jared McCann has already exceeded expectations and due to Henrik Sedin being day-to-day, will be asked to take on even more of a role. What’s one more test for McCann?
Jake Virtanen has made great strides since last year, and though he was a healthy scratch a few times before getting injured, being loaned to Team Canada for the World Juniors will be excellent experience.
Ben Hutton has been the unsung hero of the defence corps. Hutton was all but a revelation at training camp and he has translated that into success with the big club.
3. Jaromir Jagr
— NHL (@NHL) December 18, 2015
Jaromir Jagr was drafted 5th overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft and quickly became an effective scoring machine. Registering 5 seasons with over 100 points, Jagr initially awed viewers with his combination of size, skill, speed.
The Canucks have 11 players that have played a game for them this season that weren’t born when Jagr played his first NHL game in 1990. Regrettably, Jagr will eventually retire, but until then we can appreciate his enormous contribution to the game: the epitome of hockey hair.
Henrik Sedin practiced this morning, but he will not play.
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) December 20, 2015
Expect Willie Desjardins to stick with the same lines as Friday, with Ryan Miller in goal.
The Canucks can’t take any team lightly, and the Panthers are no exception.
Goals should be hard to come by tonight, but the Canucks will find a way to get a couple of goals past Luongo and win 2-1.