Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gameday: Colorado At Vancouver

The Vancouver Canucks are back at the friendly confines of GM Place where they look to maintain their unblemished 7-0-0 home record. In town are the red hot Colorado Avalanche. Colorado leads the season series 2-1.

Colorado Avalanche (8-4-2)

The Colorado Avalanche have been on a tear, finishing their 6 game homestand with a 5-0-1 record. The Avalanche are having no trouble scoring goals as they rank 3rd in the league with 4.3 goals scored per game. In addition to their offence, their special teams also rank up at the top of the league. The power-play is at 22.3%(t 4th) and the penalty kill is at 87.6% (4th).

Defenseman John-Michael Liles still leads the Avalanche with 16 points while Marek Svatos and Antti Laaksonen are tied for the team lead with 6 goals. Colorado has a well balanced attack with 9 players with between 10 and 16 points.

The Avalanche have often started strong, outscoring their opponents 22-10 in the first period leading to a 5-2-1 record when leading after one.

David Aebischer, who has won 6 straight games, will get the start in goal.

Vancouver Canucks (10-4-2)

The Canucks are coming off two straight losses in their back-to-back games in Calgary and have seen their division lead fall to just 4 points. While they have struggled on the road, they have been perfect at home. A win tonight would set a new franchise record.

On the road trip previous to Calgary, Vancouver was in Colorado where they lost 6-2 and 4-3 in OT. Vancouver will be looking for a better showing on home ice.

Vancouver has been bitten by the injury bug of late and tonight defenceman Steve McCarthy will be out of the lineup with a minor groin pull. Taking his place will be Sven Butenschon who was recalled from Manitoba. Butenschon has 6pts in 13 games for Manitoba, he is expected to be paired with Sami Salo.

Up front, there will be a new look on the third line as Lee Goren is expected to join former Moose linemate Ryan Kesler and the slumping Richard Park. Wade Brookbank will draw in on the 4th line with Jarkko Ruutu and Trevor Linden.

In goal, Alex Auld will get the start and Dan Cloutier will be backing up.

Vancouver will need to work hard on special teams which are not performing well. The power-play ranks 18th at 17.2% while the penalty kill is ranked 21st at 80%.

Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams and Discipline - Both teams need to stay out of penalty trouble as the special teams battle will likely decide the game.
  2. Scoring First - Both teams sport great records when they score first, that's not likely to change tonight.
  3. Playing a full 60 minutes - It's not over till it's over - as both teams have learned in their previous meetings.

With the Bertuzzi "stuff" out of the way, these two teams can finally have the focus back on hockey and the division race. It should be a good one.

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