Canucks vs Capitals Game Day Report: Miller time in DC

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Canucks Game Day Capitals

Here they go again! The Canucks start another long road trip tonight as they visit Verizon Center for a clash against the mighty Washington Capitals.

The Canucks are looking to build on an emotional Monday night OT win against the Florida Panthers.

Maybe the 3-2 win was a little more dramatic than normal, but the Canucks were, once again, carried on their backs by the play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Daniel scored twice, including the game winner, and Henrik added 2 assists. More importantly, the Canucks seemed to galvanize as a team around the Sedins. Time will tell if this game proves as a watershed for success in the second half of the season.

Game Time: 4:00 pm

TV: Sportsnet 360

The Washington Capitals have finally figured it out. Under the leadership of Barry Trotz, the Capitals lead the entire league with 67 points in 42 games. The Capitals have had an abundance of talent for quite some time, but have always seemed to play unstructured and undisciplined. Not so this year.

This is a Capitals team that can beat you in multiple ways. The Capitals have scored the 2nd most goals in the league (with Dallas tops in the NHL), but have also allowed the least amount of goals at the same time. Simply put, the Canucks are facing a team that outclasses them in almost every area you can think of.

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Storylines

1.  Alex Ovechkin scoring milestone

Alex Ovechkin joined some lofty company on Sunday night after scoring his 500th goal in the NHL. Ovechkin has that rare combination of power and skill.

If you have seen Ovechkin play live, you will know that his game is somewhat deceptive. He doesn’t run around the ice hitting everyone in sight and he isn’t really noticeable on every shift. What Ovechkin does is find a way to get open even when everyone on the ice and in the stands knows the puck is going to him. When Ovechkin finds that open seam for that split second, it is in the back of the net.

Quite a character and quite a talent!

 

2.  Chris Higgins

The Chris Higgins era appears to be over. This move is both a practical and symbolic one for the Canucks. Practical in a sense that Higgins appears to be a shadow of his former self and symbolic in that the demotion of Higgins signals a further commitment to youth.

It is hard for anyone to knock Chris Higgins. He was a key piece brought in by Mike Gillis for the 2011 Stanley Cup run and has been an extremely useful player during his time in a Canuck’s uniform.

 

3. Ryan Miller returns

Ryan Miller returns to the Canucks crease after nursing a groin injury. His injury perhaps was a blessing in disguise. The injury to Miller forced Willie Desjardins to give Jacob Markstrom an extended look and it appears that the coach was pleasantly surprised by the young back-up’s play.

Markstrom has posted some very good numbers and proved most of the doubters wrong in 16 games this season. His .920 save percentage and 2.44 goals against average are stellar.

What does all this mean?

Desjardins should have no hesitation playing Markstrom, thereby, lessening the burden on Miller during the second half of the season. Watch for Miller to have improved play with proper rest and Markstrom to continue his impressive play.

 

Lineup

Jannik Hansen remains day-to-day and Jared McCann is a healthy scratch. Based on practice, the lines should looks as follows:

D. Sedin H. Sedin Dorsett
Baertschi Horvat Vrbata
Burrows Vey Etem
Prust Cracknell Virtanen
Edler Tanev
Hutton Weber
Bartkowski Biega
Miller

 

Prediction

The Canucks are coming off of an emotional win against the Panthers and the Capitals seem to beat everyone. I question Desjardins’ decision to start Miller in his first game back from injury against the high powered Capitals. In my opinion, Markstrom should have gotten the start and Miller would have been better off to shake the rust off against the offence inept Carolina Hurricanes.

The Capitals pick a part a shaky Miller and win this one easily by a score of 5-1.

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Ian Lusher Canucks Contributor
@ianlusher

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