The Road Trip From Hell (tm) continues as the Canucks try and rebound from an effort Friday in Chicago that was disappointing no matter how you look at it. Not much time to sit and dwell though, as a team that always plays the Canucks tough will be looking to try and shore up their playoff aspirations with a victory this afternoon.
I have a real love-hate relationship with these afternoon games. Part of me likes that it's still light out at the end of the game. Another part of me also remembers a certain afternoon game that was a disaster for Roberto Luongo and his groin. Luongo will be looking to get his game back in gear, one week to the day of his gold medal victory in Vancouver.
The good news for Vancouver is that the best defenseman for Team Canada, Nashville's Shea Weber is out of the lineup with a wrist injury. That's a big loss for the Preds, especially with their already weak penalty killing. That could be just the thing the Canucks need to get their recently struggling power play back in gear.
One of the things that really stood out from Friday was just how badly we miss Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa. I don't want to knock Andrew Alberts until he's had a few games to adjust to the system, but overall it's amazing we've done as well as we have with this half-AHL defense. Getting Bieksa back soon will be good, but it's Mitchell and his shutdown ability that the Canucks will need heading into the post season.
The Canucks will likely be facing Pekka Rinne today, who has won his last two starts. The Canucks will want to key on 3 players today if they want to have success. Martin Erat has played well against the Canucks this year with 3 goals and an assist, Jason Arnott is always tough to play against, and Steve Sullivan has 10 points in his last 10 against Vancouver and 30 points lifetime.
The Canucks will need the Sedins to show some signs that they can regain the dominance they showed earlier this season. While it's great that Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Pavol Demitra and Kyle Wellwood are playing well right now, this team needs production from it's superstars. That and a better job of defensive responsibility should lead to success in Nashville at the *checks the name* Firestone Center.
Blood On The Ice
A couple suspensions this week as Montreal's Maxime Lapierre got 4 games for dirty shove from behind on Scott Nicol of the Sharks, and Minnesota's Derek Boogaard got a paltry 2 game slap on the wrist for a brutal knee on knee hit against Ryan Jones of the Oilers. The Boogaard suspension is the same punishment given to Alexander Ovechkin for a similar hit. No word yet on whether Boogaard will use this as a bargaining chip when his current contract expires...
Big win for the Maple Leafs last night against a flu-ridden Ottawa team. You have to love that they needed a shootout to dispatch a team that had a regular parade to the dressing room of players going to vomit.
New York Rangers fans are having a 'Fire Glen Sather' rally today. The amazing thing is that they waited this long to do it...
Sidney Crosby has seemingly pulled a page out of Alex Ovechkin's book and turned down a request from David Letterman to appear on his show to do the top 10 list. One more PR embarrassment for Gary Bettman. Speaking of Bettman, the NHL is suing former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes. The interesting part of this lawsuit? He is trying to recoup moneys owed to Wayne Gretzky. Didn't they make it so he didn't get paid in the first place due to their bungling of the whole situation?