The Canucks kick off a three game road trip in Columbus this afternoon that also ends in Columbus next week, the circle of hockey life.
We’ve now hit the midway point of the season and the Canucks are still mired in a mini-slump where, outside of the Kings game, they haven’t been playing to their potential.
Remember, this season is the lightning season where every game counts double, so turning things around with a few wins on this trip and making some separation from a Western Conference packed tighter than a 99 B-Line in rush hour is critical.
Thankfully, the next two games are against Columbus.
Matchup: Vancouver Canucks (11 – 6– 5) v Columbus Blue Jackets (7 – 12–4)
Venue: Nationwide Arena
Time: 4:00 pm PT
TV/Radio: Sportsnet, Team 1040
It’s too bad Ryan Kesler is out for the latest meeting between his team and R.J. Umberger’s. Their mutual hatred could have lifted this game past being just another afternoon road game.
This also the afternoon you realize Adrian Aucoin landed in Columbus.
What to watch: Columbus
It’s inept business as usual for Columbus, who hold the prized distinction of being perhaps the only team in the West guaranteed not to make the playoffs. Steve Mason is once again having an up and down year as his rookie season slips further and further away, and there’s not much else in Columbus holding them down in the post Rick Nash era.
Interestingly, they’ve killed 17 straight penalties at a time when the Canucks haven’t scored on 15 straight opportunities.
Matt Calvert-Artem Anisimov-Cam Atkinson
R.J. Umberger-Ryan Johansen-Nick Foligno
Vinny Prospal-Mark Letestu-Derek Dorsett
Colton Gilles-Derek MacKenzie-Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin-Jack Johnson
Tim Erixon-Adrian Aucoin
Cody Goloubef-Daulton Prout
What to watch: Vancouver
The Canucks will need some wins under their belt to hold their Northwest rivals at bay, and they can’t afford to not take two from the last place team in the conference. Thankfully, they’ve taken at least a point against Columbus in 11 straight meetings.
Cory Schneider‘s in net and is 3-1-1 on the road.
Cam Barker-Andrew Alberts
The Jackets will miss Brandon Dubinsky, James Wisniewski and John Moore tonight.
For the Canucks, as mentioned, Bieksa and Ballard will join Kesler in popcorn duty tonight, testing the blueline depth the most this year.
Either the Canucks win or sports radio explodes.
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