Duel We’ve Been Waiting For
Tonight’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils marks the return of Cory Schneider to Rogers Arena, and after a year of goaltending controversies and trade speculation fans will finally see two of the league’s most familiar goaltenders go head-to-head.
While the players shooting the puck will surely have some influence over tonight’s game, the focus is clearly in the crease tonight.
Below are the five things I’ll be looking for during tonight’s matchup between the Canucks and Devils, only two of which should be locked to the blue paint.
The Devils gave Martin Brodeur the start last night in Edmonton in order to allow Schneider to prove his former team wrong, and tonight we get to see how he stacks up against the original #1 in a high-pressure situation.
This game won’t count in a first to four elimination series, but it may just feel like April hockey inside Rogers Arena tonight.
Despite losing the Canucks’ starting job to his younger counterpart last season, Roberto Luongo remains one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Luongo has an Olympic gold medal to his name (which he won starting ahead of Martin Brodeur) and fell only one game short of winning the Stanley Cup just a few seasons ago.
Tonight’s game should be somewhat of a statement game from Mr. Stombone, and I expect him to be especially sharp.
A Legend’s Last Appearance
Lost in the obsession over Schneider versus Luongo is Jaromir Jagr’s return to Vancouver in what could be his last NHL game in this hockey-mad city.
Jagr is first among all active NHL skaters with 1, 689 career points to his name, which is only 34 points behind his former teammate and fellow NHL legend Mario Lemieux.
No Rest For The Wicked
The Devils are playing in their second of back-to-back games tonight in Vancouver after going to distance in a shootout loss against the Oilers last night.
After witnessing the Canucks stumble out of the gate in their own back-to-back against the Oilers last week I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slow start from the Devils tonight.
Bernier Back Again
Steve Bernier also makes the return to Rogers Arena tonight after playing 140 regular season games and 22 playoff games for the Canucks over two NHL seasons.
Bernier was a frustrating player to watch during his time with the Canucks, but something tells me he could make an impact in tonight’s game.
The Hockey Gods are fickle folk, and it would feel oddly appropriate for him to make his presence felt tonight against his former team.