The teams are not far apart statistically. Vancouver has an edge in Goals Per Game, ranked 12th in the league vs. 20th for the CBJ. In Goals Against, the CBJ are 10th, Vancouver 11th. The Canucks have the 15th ranked Power Play, and we have the 16th ranked PK. We remain last in the PP, but Vancouver is only 25th in the PK.
Both teams have been hot -- Vancouver is 9 - 2 over its last 11. They edged Tampa Bay 2 - 1 on Friday, were shut out 3 - 0 by Montreal on Tuesday, and beat Toronto in a shootout 3 - 2 in a shootout. As usual, they are led by the Sedin brothers. Daniel is the team's only 20 goal scorer, with 25-34-59 pts. Brother Henrik is 12-45-57. However, they are each pointless in their last 2. The addition of Sundin makes the pair more dangerous. He is 6-6-12 in 20 games. Ryan Kesler (18-21-39) adds jump and scoring.
This one, however, will boil down to goaltending. Luongo is over his post-injury rustiness, sporting a 2-1-0 record, 1.64 GAA and .933 save percentage over his last three games. Mason is over his own illness issues, and threw a 1 - 0 shutout at Edmonton in his last outing. Both teams have playoff motivation, and Vancouver will be looking to avoid the sweep. The CBJ can take advantage of some favorable results in other games to create some separation.
Here are the keys:
Early Energy - - Luongo is most vulnerable when you get to him early. Let's come out firing and try to get the first goal. Dominate possession, check all over the ice, and disrupt their flow early on.
Intelligence -- Continue to play smart hockey -- minimize penalties, take care of the puck, get the puck deep, win the battles.
Simplicity -- No need to get fancy. We have the speed, size, skill to get this win, and have 3 under our belt against Vancouver already this year. Keep their studs to the perimeter, clear the puck, North South game, Hitch hockey. 'Nuff said.
60 Minutes -- Can't take a shift or a period off. Roll 4, make their forwards tire themselves out in their own zone.
Last long road trip of the year. Get 'er done! Go Jackets!!