Things were not easy for the Chicago Blackhawks against Nashville, a seventh seed known mainly for grinding their way into the playoffs. So I had a feeling that things would be even rockier against the Vancouver Canucks and that clearly seems to be the case.
Vancouver Canucks 5, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Canucks lead series 1-0
Simply put, Roberto Luongo is on a mission. He made 36 out of 37 saves against a team that once bewitched him while the Canucks scored by committee to dominate the Chicago Blackhawks. On the other end, Antti Niemi struggled enough to get pulled from the game, but my guess is that the team would be wise to stick with the steady Finn instead of the “Fragile Frenchman” Cristobal Huet.
Vancouver must feel great about their collective game right now. Their offense is stout because the Sedin twins deliver in the clutch while the team produces additional offense from various sources. Luongo looked like the all-world goalie we’ve been expecting to see. His coming out party seemed to be in Game 6 of the Los Angeles series and it seems that he’s carrying that confidence over against Chicago so far. Maybe Vancouver’s defense isn’t elite at this point, but it seems as if their firepower and once-again amazing goalie are painting over that hole in a wall. If their considerable strengths on both sides of the ice don’t make you feel good about them, perhaps their impressive resilience during an epic road trip will. Anyone predicting a Canucks Cup victory must feel pretty cocky tonight.
Generally speaking, putting 30+ shots on goal is a good formula to “figure out your problems” so throwing the Blackhawks under the bus completely seems a bit hasty. That being said, a blowout in their own arena might remind Chicago that nothing is going to come easy.
Especially in this series.
Tonight is a big game for the Arizona Coyotes, as they host Vancouver, one of the teams they’re jockeying with for the final wild-card spot in the West.
If the Coyotes can beat the Canucks in regulation, they’ll move to within two points of Colorado for that final wild-card spot, with three games in hand on the Avs. Not only that, Vancouver’s playoff hopes would be dealt a significant blow.
Of course, that’s a pretty sizable “if” the way the Coyotes have been playing. The Desert Dogs are winless in their last four, with 21 total goals surrendered.
“We have to shore up some things and our goaltending has to be better,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett told reporters, while confirming that Louis Domingue would get the start versus the Canucks.
Domingue, the NHL’s rookie of the month in January, has struggled of late, allowing five goals in each of his last three starts. In the Coyotes’ last game, they turned to Anders Lindback, only for Lindback to surrender five goals himself in a 5-2 loss to Anaheim.
For the Canucks, Ryan Miller is expected to start, after Jacob Markstrom got the win last night in Denver.
— Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers in Pittsburgh, where Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for the Penguins.
— Craig Anderson for the Senators in Detroit, where Petr Mrazek will make his third straight start for the Red Wings.
The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.
It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.
Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)
The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, where Bailey will reportedly make his NHL debut.
To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.
Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”
Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.
Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.
Here’s what Konopka tweeted:
And what did Yeo think about that?
“I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”
Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.
Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.
You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.