Thursday, March 19, 2009

Canucks/Blues Game Day

The Canucks (37-23-9) wrap up a lengthy home-stand tonight against the St. Louis Blues (32-29-9). The two teams have split their season series with identical 6-4 wins. The Blues won their first meeting of the year at GM Place Jan. 9 while the Canucks returned the favour at the ScottTrade Center Feb. 10. Willie Mitchell (2g,2a), Pavol Demitra (1g,2a), and Kevin Bieksa (3a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Patrik Berglund (1g,4a), T.J. Oshie (1g,2a), and Keith Tkachuk (1g,2a) lead the Blues.

Vancouver puts their franchise-best 10-game home ice winning streak on the line tonight. Ryan Kesler has points in four straight games (2g,5a) while Demitra has five assists in the same period. Demitra is doubtful for tonight as he was the only Canucks forward to not take the pre-game skate after being on the receiving end of a hard hit from Steve Ott in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars. If he doesn't play, Jannik Hansen will return to the line-up after missing ten games with a broken finger. Alain Vigneault will be coaching his 500th career regular season game in the NHL tonight.

St. Louis has quietly been one of the best teams in the entire league in the second half of the season. The 2nd half record is 16-7-6, a winning percentage of .655%. Only the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings have had better winning percentages in the 2nd half. The Blues have not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 13.

Brad Boyes leads the Blues in scoring 29g,31a and has two goals against the Canucks this year. Mt.Vernon, Washington native T.J. Oshie rides a three game point scoring streak into tonight's action (1g,4a), while David Backes has points in five of his last six (6g,4a). Netminder Chris Mason has started 21 straight games, which includes a 33-save effort in a 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams for tonight's game:


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

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



David Backes - Andy McDonald - Brad Boyes
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Keith Tkachuk - Jay McClement - Alex Steen
Brad Winchester - Dan Hinote - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Mike Weaver
Jeff Woywitka - Carlo Colaiacovo
Jay McKee - Roman Polak

Chris Mason
Ben Bishop

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