Saturday, October 22, 2005

Gameday: Colorado at Vancouver

It's the first meeting between the bitter Northwest rivals since you know when. The media has hyped this game beyond belief so I'll spare you that... you'll get you're fill of hype on NHIC.

Let's get to the point...

Vancouver (6-1-1)

The Vancouver Canucks have won five straight since their drubbing in Minnesota. Clearly the embarrassing loss got the team's attention.

Since the Minnesota loss, the Canucks have come out very strong in the first period of each game and will need to do the same again tonight against the Avalanche. In addition to strong starts, their power-play has been scoring on a nightly basis and while the penalty kill struggled early in the year the Canucks were perfect against Phoenix.

The Canucks are getting huge contributions from their defense, Ed Jovanovski has six points during the winning streak, while Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo have been scoring on the power-play.

The Canucks lineup has remained unchanged during the win streak and I would expect that to continue tonight, although there is a chance that Wade Brookbank could draw into the lineup (I'll try and post an update if I get confirmation on Brookbank).

Dan Cloutier is expected to start.

Colorado (3-3-1)

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a dominating 7-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night. Milan Hejduk made his return to the lineup and managed to score twice and add an assist. Hejduk is a familiar face, referred to by many as "the Canuck Killer", but there aren't too many familiar faces left on the Avalanche. I believe there are only 8 players who were in the Colorado lineup last time these teams met.

The new faces include the likes of Pierre Turgeon, Patrice Brisebois, Andrew Brunette, Anti Laaksonen, Ian Lapperriere and of course Brad May.

Defenseman John-Michael Liles leads the Avalanche in scoring with 4 goals and 6 assists. Alex Tanguay has not scored, but does have 8 assists. Joe Sakic and Pierre Turgeon both have 7 points, while rookie Marek Svatos has 5 goals and 2 assists.

On the blueline, newcomer Partice Brisbois has 3 goals and 2 assists. Rob Blake has had a rough start to the season, Blake is sporting an ugly -5 although he does have 5 assists.

Colorado's special teams have been very good. The power-play is cruising along at 25% while the penalty kill is at 86.6%

Rookie goaltender Peter Budaj is getting the call tonight. Budaj is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA and .931 SvPct.

The Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams & Discipline - As has been the case for a lot of games this season, this one will probably come down to staying out of the box and taking advantage of your power play opportunities.
  2. Maintaining Focus - With all the hoopla and hype surrounding the game both teams will have to remember that their are an important two points up for grabs.
  3. Hard Work - The Avanlanche are playing their second road game in two nights, the Canucks need to take advantage of that by working hard and starting strong.
  4. Faceoffs - Both teams are struggling in the faceoff circle at around 45%. Whoever prevails tonight could gain an important advantage.

Enjoy the game, it should be a good one.

TV: CBC 7:00

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