Tonight's game marks the first of six meetings between these two Northwest division rivals nearly two months into the season, and the only one before the new Year.
The Canucks went 8-4-1 in the month of November, but are just one game over .500 in their past ten games after a four-game losing streak mid-month. They've struggled especially on the road, where they're 4-5-2 in 11 games, and have scored 29 goals in those games while allowing an average of three per game. The Canucks have had more success on the powerplay away from home, however, where they have 13 goals on 44 opportunities with the extra man. Vancouver also has a top five PK, operating at 88.9% efficiency away from Rogers Arena. If the Flames are going to win tonight, they'll have to outplay the Canucks at even strength; the visitors have given up as many goals as they've scored (43) at 5-on-5. Mikka Kiprusoff will also have to be on his game tonight after a stellar performance Monday against Minnesota, as Roberto Luongo has allowed just three goals in his past two games, both victories.
Vancouver currently sits five points ahead of the Flames for top spot in the Northwest division with two games in hand. Nobody will be surprised to see the Daniel and Henrik Sedin leading the 'Nucks in scoring, with 27 points apiece--although the latter has just two goals, and is shooting at just 4.7% so far this season. The next highest scorer on the team is Mikael Samuelsson, with six goals and sixteen points in 22 games. Alex Burrows has three goals and six points in twelve games since returning from injury, and while the Canucks will certainly need him to be better going forward, they have a number of other offensive threats up front that can burn the opposition in Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, and even Raffi Torres, who is third on the team with eight goals so far this season.
For the Flames, the lineup is expected to remain the same as in Monday's win over the Wild, as Cory Sarich retains his spot on the blueline despite a less than impressive outing, although he's still nominally better than the alternative (Steve Staios). Craig Conroy remains out after Stefan Meyer was assigned to Abbotsford yesterday, as the Flames await Ales Kotalik's return from injury. This game will be Brendan Morrison's first against his former team since being cut by the Canucks in training camp.
Lines and Pairings:
LOLuongo Luongo will counter in net for the 'Nucks.
Enjoy the game everyone and express your contempt for the Sedin twins in the comments. Go Flames.