Saturday, January 31, 2009

Canucks & Wild Game Day

The Vancouver Canucks (22-20-7), in as desperate a need for a victory as they've been in the past decade, are preparing for their fourth of six meetings against the Minnesota Wild (24-21-3).
The two clubs enter the night tied in points (51), but if the playoffs were to start today, both teams would be on the outside looking in.

The Canucks are 3-0-0 against the Wild this season, outscoring their Northwest Division rivals 7-3 in those games. Henrik Sedin (5a), Daniel Sedin (2g,1a), and Kevin Bieksa (1g,2a) lead the Canucks in scoring while Mikko Koivu (3g) and Antti Miettinen (2a) lead the Wild. Vancouver has gone a combined 3-for-11 on the power play in their head-to-head meetings with Minnesota, as well as a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. For what it's worth, the Wild have never lost four straight games in regulation to the Canucks.

Having lost eight straight games on home ice and nine of their last ten, the Canucks as you might expect are making a few changes to their line-up. Both Mike Brown and Rob Davison will come into the roster, taking the spots of Mason Raymond and Shane O'Brien. Brown, who has not dressed in the last nine games, will play on a line with Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Johnson. Davison, who has only appeared in seven games since the Christmas break, will be paired up on defence alongside Kevin Bieksa.

Mats Sundin will start on a line in tonight's game skaing with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. In eight games, Sundin has two goals, one assist, and is a -5, worst of any Canucks forward.

The Wild are coming off a 3-1 loss on the road last night against the Edmonton Oilers. Prior to that, they posted a 6-1 win at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Koivu leads the Wild in scoring (13g,34a) while Pierre-Marc Bouchard has points in back-to-back games (2g,2a).

Andrew Brunette played in his 500th consecutive game last Tuesday. The NHL's current Iron Man has tallied 14g,32a=46pts in 51 career games against the Canucks.

Both teams had optional skates at GM Place this morning. Here is what the Canucks line-up is expected to look like tonight when the two clubs face off at 7:00pm PST:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Pyatt
Burrows - Sundin - Kesler
Hansen - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Brown

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - Davison


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