Hot Canucks start road trip at Bell Centre

HiggyMax

One of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Stanley Cup finalists of Vancouver, come into the Bell Centre on Thursday for the first game of a five-game road trip. The Canucks have won seven of their last eight games, are 8-2 in their last 10 and 10-3 in their last 13.

The Canucks have been a powerful offensive club this season. Their 89 goals is tied for the second highest total in the league behind the Blackhawks and Flyers who both have 93. They have the best power play in the league, clicking at almost 26 percent. Their penalty kill isn’t awful either, killing off 86 percent of their man down situations, sixth in the league. The Habs remain second in the league with an 89.5 percent success rate.

One of the main questions surrounding Vancouver continues to be their goaltending, although they’re coming off a 6-0 shutout of Colorado in which Roberto Luongo was injured in the second period when he took a Gabriel Landeskog shot in the thoat. He was replaced by Corey Schneider, who blanked the Avalanche the rest of the way while Luongo watched from the bench. The 32-year-old Montreal native has made the trip, however, and could start against the Habs.

Luongo hasn’t played as much this season as in the past due to a combination of injury and coach Alain Vigneualt giving Schneider more starts after Luongo struggled in the early going. Schneider has been the better of the two goalies so far with a 2.02 GAA and a .934 save pct. But Luongo (2.22, .899) has the big contract and it’s possible he’ll get the nod from Vigneault in his hometown if he’s feeling better. In 26 career games against the Habs, Luongo has a 9-11-5 record, two shutouts and a .923 save percentage. Many of those games were played while he was with Florida and the Islanders earlier in his career.

Another familiar name to Montreal fans, Chris Higgins, recently recorded his 200th NHL point and is also on the trip, but his status, too. is uncertain. Higgins didn’t play against the Avs due to what one source called a staph infection in his foot which caused swelling. Higgins had been playing well on an effective all-American line with Ryan Kesler at centre and David Booth on wing. But Booth isn’t on the trip, having been kneed Tuesday by Colorado’s Kevin Porter, who got five and a game and reportedly meets with Brendan Shanahan on Thursday. Booth is expected to miss at least month with an MCL injury.

So what had been the all-American second line had Canadian Mason Raymond on one wing and Dane Jannik Hansen on the other after Booth went down. If Higgins can’t go on Thursday, moving Raymond up from the third line again could mean the Canucks depth at forward will be stretched somewhat.

Regardless, it is their top line that requires attention. Daniel Sedin his brother Henrik and Alex Burrows continue to be one of the best threesomes in the game. Daniel did the damage against the Avs with a hat trick. He leads the Canucks with 12 goals and 21 assists and has eight points in his last four games (although he’s never been particularly effective against the Canadiens; he has only two goals in 16 career games vs. the Habs). Henrik has eight goals and 22 assists on the season. Burrows is heating up with five points in his last four games and has a team-best plus-12 rating.

Yet another familiar name to Habs fans, Max Lapierre, leads the Canucks in hits with 80 and has characteristically been involved in some controversial moments lately. He checked Colorado defenceman Ryan Wilson face first into the endboards on his first shift of Tuesday’s game, ending Wilson’s evening and escaping a penalty or, apparently any other punishment. Two nights earlier, he fought against the Flames Matt Stajan, who was avenging a late hit Lapierre made on him two months ago. It was only Stajan’s second career fight.

On the blueline, Dan Hamhiuis and Kevin Bieksa are a formidable shutdown duo. Alex Edler runs the show and is fourth in scoring among all NHL defencemen with 20 points (4g, 16a). His partner Sami Salo, who’s been relatively healthy, is right behind Hamhuis’ plus-9 for the top rating among the Canucks d-men with a plus-8. Aaron Rome and Keith Ballard, who can both have problems in their own end, are the third pair. Losing Christian Ehrhoff to the Sabres in free agency robbed the Canucks of their great blue line depth from last year.

It’s uncertain how the Canucks’ bottom six will look if Higgins can’t play, but we’ll pencil him in on the second line and see how things go. Rookie call-up Bill Sweat will play his first NHL game against the Habs.

Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows
Jannik Hansen, Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins
Mason Raymond, Cody Hodgson, Dale Weise
Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre, Bill Sweat

Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler, Sami Salo
Aaron Rome, Keith Ballard

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

24 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I heard today that the Habs, who lead the league in man-games missed for injury, are currently averaging roughly FIVE missing starters per game. They are one point out of a playoff spot, albeit with fewer games remaining than several of their superiors. That’s not bad.

  2. Clay says:

    I just looked at the standings for the first time in quite a while, and noticed that we’re behind Winnipeg now…add that to the fact that we just recently lost to the 2 worst teams in the league.
    My, how the mighty Habs have fallen :(

    __________________________
    “Talent is a gift from God, but you only succeed with hard work. Yvan was proof of that.” – Jean Beliveau.

  3. Armitagej says:

    These guys are gonna wipe the floor with our ass. With how pisspoor we’ve been playing lately, wouldn’t be surprised if its a 6-1 or 7-1 final score. JM has to go. His system is a joke.

  4. Kooch7800 says:

    Tonight will be a tough one. we only scored two goals on the jackets with one of the worst d in the nhl and an ahl goalie. I am thinking we will get shutout tonight or maybe score one.

  5. I still find it weird to see Lappy in another uni.

    http://www.puckbandits.com

  6. habsperspective says:

    In thinking about the realignment and im left wondering about the idea of rivalries. When under the current system we see teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Washington, even Jersey, four times a year, and now they say they can play Tampa, and Miami six times a season, plus another game each against Columbus, Nashville, Anaheim, and Dallas. And lose a pair of games each to the rivalries aforementioned.

    Huh

    This proposal like many things recently in the NHL, seems very short sighted.

  7. Propwash says:

    According to some, it’s useless to cheer on the Habs.
    I have the answer, pack up the team and move it to Las Vegas. It’s Bettmans wet dream.

    _____________________________
    Being negative has its advantages,
    you’re never disappointed.

    • Clay says:

      It’s not the cheering that’s useless – it’s having high expectations from a mediocre club.

      __________________________
      “Talent is a gift from God, but you only succeed with hard work. Yvan was proof of that.” – Jean Beliveau.

  8. MontrealBruin says:

    Make sure Price pumps Luongo tires before the game, we all know how Luongo gets upset when the opposing goalie doesn’t do it..

    Go Go Black and Gold

  9. G-Man says:

    It’s always a good game when the Habs play the Nucks. Of course, all the Tankers™ will want a Nuck blowout to prove their point, but I think a tight 3-1 game is winnable. But then, I am optimistic. ;)

  10. The Cat says:

    The habs will win because the canucks will play down to their opponents’ level ^_^

    [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

  11. Everlasting1 says:

    Speaking of funny mug shots..
    http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQkTQg4xDem5XKZnSmhIqbbCTSwOvaXCdoI1WpjBZ6T1C1enX5d_g
    :)
    ——————————————————————-
    “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  12. Everlasting1 says:

    ——————————————————————-
    “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.” Exodus 12:12

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

  13. Jim Edson says:

    Anyone reckon “the great ape” from Washington will get a visit from Shanahan for the spear he threw tonight?

    Doubt it!

    ———————————————————————-
    What does the Commissioner of the NHL do?

    In short, a league commissioner is the action man for the Board of Governors.

    They tell him what they want done and he works to make it happen through his subordinates while making sure that individual franchises play by the rules.

    ******** Translated if you haven’t won the Stanley Cup in 40 years your NHL team is becoming irrelevant in a sports mad city long behind MLB, NFL and NBA teams, you just tell the commissioner(who you gave a new contract at 7 plus million per) to make it happen and the rules are bent sufficiently to action the command.

  14. My big brown bag of Shame ready for tomorrow ( I wear it with jersey to my classrooms here in la la land) actually it has been lucky for the Habs the last couple of meetings, so why change things…dearly price needs to come out shuttting them down early…emelin do your thing, make them earn the zone….crunch a sundin (any one will do…) Please “powers that be” don’t allow it to be a shutout for them canucks (i have to go to work Friday and face many westcoast students responders)…allow the puckluck to be with us for a change…hey, forwards “shoot the puck” from all angles…stop being so predictable, and score some goals…give leblanc and the youthful ones more time, especially if things aren’t flourishing for a lengthy time…maybe grant him a spot on the PP. So I have fingers crossed…chanting random prayers, burning sage…developing a circular breath on my didgereedoo…and scribbling down positive affirmations…go habs – show ‘em who’s got the bigger heart. Vancouver Canuck Fans are $%@$^ so cocky out here… please make my day…oh what a holiday present…Canadiens by two…

    • club_de_hockey says:

      I feel your pain brother, I live in Vancouver. Canucks fans definitely are the cockiest, most arrogant most obnoxious fans of any sport I have ever encountered, so much so that I was not too unhappy to see them lose in the Stanley Cup Finals, even if it was to Boston! Mark Recchi said in the 22 years he’s played he had never encountered a team so brash and arrogant before. To me they are like the new Maple Leafs fans!

      Go Habs Go!!!!!!!

      —————————————————————–
      “Power plays are an important part of the game and I don’t want him to go on the ice and be stupid. But if they have problems, there’s one way to fix it.”
      -Guy Carbonneau in reference to the on-ice feud between S. Kostitsyn and Grabovski

  15. oh my….love these kinda games…brightens up a dull time of year…

  16. Shiloh says:

    Christmas party tomorrow night – I’ll miss the Habs’ goal.

  17. Renegade says:

    At least one team will be playing exciting hockey at the Bell Center……


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