Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gameday - Vancouver at Minnesota

The Vancouver Canucks are in Minnesota for the first of two back to back games against the Wild.

NOTE: The start time has been moved back by half an hour to accommodate the double header on TSN. Game time is now 5:30 pst

With back to back games in the same city, we get our first look at the new scheduling quirks introduced this season. This should definitely increase the intensity level between these two divisional rivals.

Vancouver (2-0-1)

The Canucks are coming off a 4-2 victory in Detroit on Monday. Vancouver juggled their forward lines in an effort to avoid Detroit's checking line and also to get more ice-time for the guys who don't get out on the power play. If there are several penalties early, I would expect Crawford to start mixing things up again.

Previous to the Detroit victory Vancouver lost in a shootout to the Oilers. To improve their shootout prowess the Canucks have been practicing shootouts. Vancouver struggled with the shootout in the pre-season and did not look any better in Edmonton.

As for the Canuck lineup, Wade Brookbank is the only healthy player on the roster who has not seen action. With back to back games against a division rival, who also has a couple tough guys, the Canucks can certainly use some toughness. According to Tom Larschied, Brookbank will be in the lineup at the expense of Lee Goren.

With Alex Auld starting in Detroit, Dan Cloutier is expected to get the call between the pipes.

Minnesota (1-1-1)

The Wild lost their last game 2-1 in overtime to the Kings on Sunday. After scoring 6 goals in their first game, the Wild offense has dried up, producing only two goals in their last two games. The offence was hoping to receive a big boost tonight as star forward, and Canuck killer, Marion Gaborik was hoping to return from a groin injury. However, Jacques Lemaire is being cautious with his star, keeping him out for the rest of the week.

Minnesota's success largely depends on the stifling defensive system of Jacques Lemaire. Despite the new rules designed to open up the game, the Wild will still base their game on sitting back and waiting for turnovers. The Wild have a tremendous transition game and their offence almost entirely relies on their ability to create turnovers and to use their speed to capitalize on mistakes by the opposition.

Between the pipes, the Wild feature the goaltending duo of Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson. Fernandez played Sunday after missing the first two games with a back problem, so Dwayne Roloson is likely to get the start.

Last time hockey was played, Minnesota won the season series (2-1-3)... Roloson was undefeated in the five games he started.

Keys to the Game

  1. Scoring First - The Wild would love nothing more than to score first and then sit back in an attempt to frustrate the Canucks. If the Canucks can get on the board first they can put a lot of pressure on the Wild's struggling offence.
  2. Turnovers - As mentioned earlier, the Wild love creating turnovers in the neutral zone and at their own blueline. Vancouver must avoid making mistakes in those areas.
  3. Special Teams & Discipline - Staying out of the penalty box will be a key for both teams. The Canucks, while always dangerous on the PP, are only 3 for 21(14.3%) so far this season. They have also had a little trouble on the PK at 82.4%. Meanwhile the Wild are ranked 3rd in the league in both penalty killing and on the power play.
  4. Goaltending - As most games often do, this one could come down to goaltending. Cloutier has been excellent so far and both Minnesota goalies have always enjoyed success against Vancouver.

TV: TSN 5:30 pm.

Also, the Canuck radio broadcast will be synched up to the TV feed, so there will not be the usual two second delay.

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