It took two and a half year after the return of the Winnipeg Jets, but the Vancouver Canucks are finally making their way to Winnipeg. They are the last team to make the trip. This has been a long awaited return for some in Winnipeg as a number of the Canucks player spent time here in their AHL days.
Some of the hype is media driven as various media members dealt with the players on the regular, but there are fan that can't wait to see their old Moose. There is also seems to be a large segment of the fan base that flat out hates the Nucks. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception this team receives.
On the ice there will be some intrigue as well. The PoMo era continues and has brought about a whole new series of question. Paul Maurice has flip flopped some lines and slightly altered the team's play. Fans want to know if the wins are sustainable or if old issues will resurface and show their ugly faces.
Spoiler Alert, they will.
Vancouver on the other hand is a confusing crew. Their head coach John Tortorella (Tort-or-ella) remains sidelined due to suspension. The Nucks also struggling with an aging roster, shallow system depth. This has been compounded by a recent string of injuries. They still have a number of high end pieces, but they aren't the juggernaut of old.
Keys to the Game
Mind Your Net: Ondrej Pavelec will be getting another start. Many are unsure of why, but rumor has it this isn't PoMo's decision. Nobody knows what Ondrej will bring to the table on any given night, but the Jets will need a strong showing to win the game.
Depth or Death: The Vancouver Canucks have depth issues, but their bad 4th liner Tom Sestito has scored more goals (5) than Eric Tangradi, Chris Thorburn, James Wright and Anthony Peluso combined (4). The Jets bottom 6 continues to gets smashed more often than not. They need to step your game.
SHOOT!! The Jets have struggled to puck pucks on net of late. Not all the time, but they have had a number or really poor periods when it comes to shot production. This can't continue if you want to win games. Both Nucks goalies are good and either guy would be likely to outplay Ondrej. As a general rule, you gotta outshoot if you wanna outscore.
Plug the Hole: Key contributors Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev, Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli are out with injuries. This creates some major holes in the roster. Regardless of who is filling in where, the Canucks will need big efforts from their fill-ins.
Show Off Your PP: The Vancouver Canucks powerplay stinks. It is ranked 29th in the entire NHL - worse than the 24th ranked unit of the Winnipeg Jets. On the flip side, the Canucks have the 4th best penalty kill in the league (Winnipeg is 11th). When you lose the special teams battle, you often lose the game. Nucks need to win or at least break even.
Lackville 79': The Vancouver Canucks continue to have unreal goalie depth - which is a very nice problem to have. After moving a player who was arguably the best backup (and soon to be starter) in the NHL, the Canucks have picked up right where they left off. Eddie Lack has stepped in and matched all world goaltender Roberto Luongo by the numbers. He will be in net tonight. He was the last goalie to start for the Manitoba Moose. He will be looking to have a big night.
Player to Boo Mercilessly
Does it have to be a player? Even if he won't be on the bench, a return of the Tort-or-ella chant would be fun.