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Game 73 Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs Winnipeg Jets

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Your Winnipeg Jets take on a Vancouver Canucks squad whose stealth tank has turned into a full-blown collapse.

Unfortunately, Winnipeg may have set off Vancouver's recent tailspin. When we last saw the Canucks, they had cobbled together a two-game winning streak and three W's out of their last four outings. Vancouver have since turned their March 14th 5-2 loss to the Jets into a four-game losing streak.

I'm not saying the Winnipeg Jets are to blame for Vancouver's many roster failings. Just that we may have Willie Desjardins' blood on our hands.

On a lighter note!:

Catch the game tonight, 7:00 PM Central Time on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN3 and TSN 1290.

It's a Numbers Game

Vancouver Canucks

Winnipeg Jets

Record

27-32-12

29-37-6

Division-Conference-League

6th - 12th - 26th

7th - 14th - 29th

Last 10 - Streak

3-7-0 - L4

3-5-2 - OT1

Goals For / Game

2.30 (29th)

2.53 (23rd)

Goals Against / Game

2.85 (23rd)

2.96 (26th)

Shots For / Game

28.6 (25th)

29.7 (18th)

Shots Against / Game

31.8 (28th)

29.8 (17th)

5v5 Corsi For %

47.3% (26th)

51.8% (10th)

Power Play %

16.7% (25th)

14.8% (29th)

Penalty Kill %

81.7% (13th)

78.3% (26th)

PIM / Game

10:00 (19th)

11:51 (27th)

Long story short, aside from goaltending and penalty killing, the Vancouver Canucks continue to be terrible. Poor special teams, goaltending and now injuries have the Winnipeg Jets on a similar level of failure.

Vancouver has to hope that kids such as Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen will nonetheless benefit from NHL exposure, while injuries have forced Winnipeg's hand and led to recalls for Nic Petan, Chase De Leo and Scott Kosmachuk.

The two points separating Vancouver from Winnipeg currently make the difference between 29th and 26th. Unfortunately for both teams, the Oilers have already played 75 games, compared to Vancouver's 71 and Winnipeg's 72. It'll take a good stretch of sustained failure to overcome Edmonton's GP advantage.

It's Miller Time

Ryan Miller

Ondrej Pavelec

Record

15-22-8

8-13-2

Overall SV%

.917%

.901%

ES SV%

.926%

.913%

PP SV%

.864%

.853%

And imagine how much worse the Vancouver Canucks would be without their goaltending.

Tonight's likely starter in Ryan Miller has been a rock for the Canucks. Of the 45 goalies who have at least 25 GP, Miller's .926 Ev Sv% ranks 21st, tied with Tuukka Rask and just .002% behind Braden Holtby.

28th in Shots Against per game, Vancouver haven't made Miller's life terribly easy, either. In a recent and extreme example, despite losing 3-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, Ryan Miller was named the game's first star. The reason? Miller made 47 saves on 49 shots against, with just one goal against coming at even strength. By comparison, Brian Elliott had to make 19 saves for the shutout.

@AndyCole84 summed the night up well:

It's become rather easy to poop on tonight's likely starter Pavelec, both from a career and single season perspective. But it's worth noting that at .913%, he still has a higher 2015-16 even strength save percentage than Michael Hutchinson (.906 Ev Sv%).

That's about all the defence I can muster.

Parting is such Swede sorrow

Christopher Tanev

Tobias Enstrom

GP - Goals - Assists - Points

63 - 4 - 13 - 17

72 - 2 - 14 - 16

Power Play Points

2

1

Shooting %

10.0%

4.0%

TOI / Game

21:52

20:51

PP TOI / Game

01:12

01:21

SH TOI / Game

02:50

01:32

5v5 Corsi For RelTM%

+3.2%

-1.0%

5v5 Penalty Differential

+4

-9

In news which broke just hours ago, Toby Enstrom is set to have knee surgery on Thursday, dealing with an issue he's felt "since November". While 2015-16 Enstrom falls behind Byfuglien, Myers and Trouba in ATOI, he has continued to be a steady member of Winnipeg's top-four.

Replacing Enstrom in the lineup is Julian "Calendar Man" Melchiori, brought back up on an emergency recall. Melchiori is set to skate beside Myers in tonight's tilt.

Not to be outdone, the Vancouver Canucks d-corps could feature three rookies in tonight's lineup. While Ben Hutton has been a revelation, Andrey Pedan and Nikita Tryamkin have only skated in six and three NHL contests, respectively. At the very least, the 6'5", 213 lbs Pedan and 6'7", 228 lbs (or possibly 6'8", 240 lbs) Tryamkin bring a great deal of size to the lineup.

Anchör, the Mighty Hammer of Thorburn

Injuries have of course taken their toll on Winnipeg's forward corps as well. Though Nik(olaj) Ehlers and Joel Armia are possibilities for Thursday, Mathieu Perreault is now out indefinitely with a concussion. As per Daily Faceoff, the result is as follows:

WPG forward corps 73

Welp, at least there shouldn't be any yelling and screaming over Nic Petan's ice time (or lack thereof).

With four points in his last five games, Blake Wheeler is hot. He also finally snapped a 10-game goalless drought on Sunday against Anaheim, and is on pace for 22 goals and 72 points. On the other hand, his centre has now gone three games without a point, though Mark Scheifele's fancy stats have remained strong over that span.

Up to and including February 23rd against the Dallas Stars, Alexander Burmistrov has averaged 18:36 TOI. While this hasn't exactly led to a deluge of points, with seven over those 14 games, it has been an encouraging stretch from a possession standpoint. There may also be a pattern at work:

As for the Canucks, Alex Burrows appears to have replaced Jake Virtanen on the top-line. At the very least, the trio of Baertschi-Horvat-Virtanen might provide some hope for Vancouver's forward corps of the future.

With 33 points in 43 games, Brendan Gaunce has had a positive 2015-16 with the Utica Comets. Recalled to the big club, he's set to centre a line between Chris Higgins and Alexandre Grenier:

Stats, facts and automobiles provided by NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, WAR On Ice, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Reference and The Hockey News.