End of Phase 1: Hawks at Canucks Preview/Pajama Party

250px-Ozymandias vs. All_canucks_logos

PUCK DROP: 9pm Central

TV/RADIO: WGN, CBC, Sportsnet, WGN Radio 720

GARBAGE THROWERS: Nucks Misconduct

However it might have looked, most teams will take three of four points on the road and call it job done. While it came against two of the worst teams in the West, and the performances were borderline abject, the haul was not. The degree of difficulty gets turned up starting tonight. I mean I guess it does. The standings say it does, except I can’t figure out what it is the Canucks do well.

The Canucks return home tonight after a seven game trip that would politely be described as “pear-shaped.” They went 1-5-1, and lost to such luminaries as the Leafs, Devils, Sabres, Penguins, and Senators. They sit fourth in the Pacific, and from what I can see the sole reason is that someone has to be. They’re behind the Coyotes, and while the Coyotes are something of a surprise, behind the Coyotes is not a place where there are fountains and flowers.

The Canucks are still led by The Children Of The Corn, which considering they’re both 35 is not exactly a good thing. They’re certainly off their point-per-game pace of yesteryear, each with 15 and 20. They’ve rotated running buddies this season, with Jannik Hansen taking most of the time.

Canucks fans are trying to get themselves excited about some kids in the lineup, namely Jake Virtanen, Bo Horvat, and Jared McCann. McCann is currently leading the rookie crop with six goals. Virtanen happens to be their best possession player. The Canucks are rife with kids, rolling out five in the lineup that are 22 or younger.

Still, if the Hawks have defensive issues, than the Canucks have a full defensive breakdown. While the Nucks aren’t too far behind the Hawks in terms of Corsi percentage, they’re one of the worst in scoring chances against at even strength. They don’t give up an absurd amount of shots or attempts, but too many of them are from too juicy of an area. That’ll happen when Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis are probably your best d-men. At points this year, HamHock has looked way older than his 32 years would suggest. They keep waiting for Chris Tanev to take the next step, but we should probably assume he doesn’t know the choreography by this point.

And what do you know, when he’s not singing “Dead Souls” at local karaoke spots, Ryan Miller hasn’t been enough to stem the tide against Vancouver. His .911 SV% and 2.51 goals-against were definitively pedestrian, and that might be being kind. But hey, if you need a bitchy quote about something, he’s still your man!

As for the Hawks, I would imagine Teuvo and Dano still miss out with only one more day of healing and/or rest. Corey Crawford will get to set up behind this leaking dam of a defense, though he should be nice and stretched out after his exertions in Edmonton while Darling remains hooked to an oxygen tank after last night.

Lucky for the Hawks, the Canucks do not come with the abundance of speed at forward that the Flames and Oilers do. The Sedins have never been about speed, and maybe that’s more up TVR’s and Seabrook’s alley, as that’s who assuredly will have to deal with them as Willie Desjardins (I assume) ducks Keith and Hammer. Horvat and Vrbata are quicker on the second line but not burners, and the only worry beyond that is the collection of kids.

The Hawks need a response tonight. They almost certainly know their last two performances, while netting points, simply weren’t good enough and if they keep putting that kind of dreck out there they’re not going to be hauling points home at all right soon. This is hardly a juggernaut across from them. A 2-0-1 record heading into the much harder half of the trip would look a whole lot better than 1-1-1.

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