Vancouver Canucks (12-3-1) vs. Calgary Flames (5-8-2)
When/Where: Thursday, 6 p.m., Scotiabank Saddledome
TV: Sportsnet Radio: Sportsnet 650
The buzz: For the second time this week, the Canucks find themselves in the back end of a back-to-back. After Wednesday’s thrilling overtime defeat of Bo Horvat’s Islanders, the Canucks jettied off to Calgary to face the Flames Thursday. The Canucks continue to roar along through a combination of fine play and some luck. The Flames, on the other hand, have a losing record partly because their goalies have struggled and partly because they can’t seem to put the puck in the net.
The history: The Canucks and the Flames split the season series last year 2-0-2, with the Canucks taking the first and last matchups in overtime. The Flames didn’t make the playoffs — a big disappointment. The Canucks came up short as well, but set their course toward the play they’ve put on display this season. Calgary turned over parts of their roster and changed coaches, from Darryl Sutter, who was deeply unpopular in the dressing room, to Ryan Huska, who was a Flames assistant coach for five seasons. Vancouver has continued to add to their roster to follow coach Rick Tocchet’s preferred style of play.
The hope: This may be the Canucks’ fifth game in eight days while the Flames have been off since Sunday, but the Canucks are feeling plenty confident. Their offence continues to be red-hot. The Flames are not.
The fear: The Canucks get the double whammy of regression: they suddenly can’t score and can’t stop the puck, while the opposite happens for Calgary.
The top guns: A stunning sentence to write: three Vancouver Canucks are tied for the NHL lead in scoring. Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Quinn Hughes have all scored 26 points this season. Brock Boeser is tied for most goals in the NHL with 23. Filip Hronek got his fits goal as a Canuck with a rocket Wednesday versus the Islanders; he has points in 11 straight games. Andrei Kuzmenko took a J.T. Miller shot to the face Wednesday night; his status is unknown. On the other hand, Calgary’s leading scorer is Nazem Kadri with just nine points. Jonathan Huberdeau, the $10.5 million man who was benched last week, has just seven points. But Jacob Markstrom is coming off his best performance of the year, backstopping the Flames to a 2-1 win over Montreal.
The wounded: Canucks: Andrei Kuzmenko (face, unknown time frame), Pius Suter (undisclosed, day to day), Carson Soucy (leg, week to week), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion, LTIR). Flames: Oliver Kylington (personal, LTIR), Kevin Rooney (shoulder, LTIR), Jakob Pelletier (shoulder, SOIR)
The quote:“They don’t get scored on because they’re never in their end.” — Sportsnet commentator Ray Ferraro on why the Quinn Hughes-Filip Hronek defence pairing has proven so dominant.
Mikheyev-Pettersson-Kuzmenko (status unknown)
The prediction: These Canucks were in the Eastern time zone all of four days ago. They’ve played a lot of hockey in the last week; it’s hard to see them mustering up a full fight. Flames will take this one 3-2.
(FAN FORUM: Do you have a specific question for a player? Pass it along to @provincesports and we’ll get it in a future edition.)
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