FOR THE GAMBLERS
The Vancouver Canucks host the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night with little to play for other than some momentum heading into the playoffs. Both the Ducks and Canucks wrapped up their Divisions on Monday with wins – the Ducks will enter the post season as the Western Conference #2 seed and the Canucks will be the #3 seed.
Anaheim Ducks (29-11-3-3) at Vancouver Canucks (26-13-1-6)
When: 10:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 25, 2013
Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
Broadcast: NHLN-US, KDOC, SNET-P
Ducks vs. Canucks Betting Lines from Bodog.ca
Odds: Vancouver -170 O/U 5
Canucks Aim For Ninth Straight At Home Thursday Night
Thursday marks the rubber match of the season series – each team has won convincingly on the road in the first week of the season. Perhaps the biggest news ahead of Thursday’s showdown is the announcement that Cory Schneider is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury that will keep him sidelined until the playoffs start.
The Anaheim Ducks have played the Canucks tough in Vancouver the past couple of seasons – they have gained a point in five straight games and are 13-6 in the last 19 meetings at Rogers Arena. The Ducks looked a tad vulnerable at this time last week – a four game winless streak had them looking like they may just slide out of the second seed in the West. But a two game win streak since has them looking more like the team that dominated most of the season.
Offensively, the Ducks have been OK this year – an average of 2.78 goals per game. Ryan Getzlaf has points in six of his past eight games, Corey Perry is nursing a four-game point streak although he missed Monday’s game with the flu, Kyle Palmieri has three points in four games and Cam Fowler has two points in three games.
On the other end of the spectrum, Francois Beauchemin has just two points in 12 games, Teemu Selanne is pointless in four games and Andrew Cogliano hasn’t hit the score sheet in seven games. Getzlaf and Corey Perry, tied for the team lead with 15 goals, have one total in the two games against Vancouver.
Defensively the Ducks have exceeded expectation this year allowing an average of just 2.37 goals per game. Jonas Hiller is 1-1-0 in his last two starts with a 1.51 GAA and .948 save percentage while Viktor Fasth is 1-0-1 in his last two starts with a 1.48 GAA and .942 save percentage. Translation – the Ducks are in good hands heading into Thursday`s showdown.
The Vancouver Canucks played perhaps their best game of the season Monday night – a 3-1 win against the best team in the NHL – the Chicago Blackhawks. They outshot, outhit and outplayed the Hawks in every facet of the game – something that virtually no team has been able to accomplish this season.
Offensively, the Canucks will enter the playoffs as an average team – 2.59 goals for per game. But the presence of Ryan Kesler and the return of Chris Higgins to join the second line has made a world of difference. Vancouver`s second line was terrific against the Hawks and could prove to be a difference maker the rest of the way for the Canucks – assuming they stay healthy!
There aren`t a whole lot of Hot Canucks offensively. Daniel Sedin has 10 points in his last nine games and Dan Hamhuis has two points in two games. But Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond and Cam Barker are pointless in their last four games and Jason Garrison has just one point in his last four games.
As mentioned – Cory Schneider is OUT Thursday and Roberto Luongo is IN. Lou is 2-0-0 in his last two starts with a 1.50 GAA and .962 save percentage but hasn`t played in 10 days. He is 9-4-3 on the season with a 2.34 GAA and .913 save percentage.
The Canucks have recalled goaltender Joe Cannata from the AHL Chicago Wolves to serve as LU’s backup tonight.
Betting Prediction: A few trends to consider:
• ANA are 9-2 in their last 11 vs. Northwest.
• Under is 12-3-1 in ANA last 16 overall.
• ANA are 6-17 in their last 23 Thu. games.
• Under is 7-1-1 in VAN last 9 home games.
• Under is 13-4-2 in VAN last 19 overall.
• VAN are 9-3 in their last 12 games following a win.
• ANA are 13-6 in the last 19 meetings in Vancouver.
The Vancouver Canucks will be without Kevin Bieksa and Keith Ballard once again along with Chris Tanev but they were mighty impressive Monday. Could this team finally have some much-sought-after chemistry heading into their final two games. My hunch is Yes – having Kesler and Higgins in the lineup at the same time makes an enormous difference for this team.
The Sedins have more room to roam and the offense looks a whole lot more complete. This game is more important to the Canucks than the Ducks and therefore I have to…