The Vancouver Canucks (37-13-9), coming off a three-game road trip that saw them lose two games and two more defencemen, kick off their longest home stand of the season tonight when they host the slumping Dallas Stars (31-21-6) in the first of six straight games at Rogers Arena.
If there’s one thing the Saskatchewan Roughriders have taught the sporting world, it’s that whenever a 13th man is involved it generally isn’t a good thing. The 13th man cost the Riders a championship at the 97th Grey Cup and it certainly didn’t help the Canucks much two nights ago in Nashville when, after learning on the morning of game day that yet another defenceman in Kevin Bieksa had fallen victim to the injury bug, they were forced to dress their 13th different blue-liner of the season in Evan Oberg.
In all fairness to the still-standing members of Vancouver’s defence corps, they were hardly the biggest reason for the Canucks’ 3-1 setback to the Predators on Thursday in Music City. The Canucks went into the contest knowing they’d be without a handful of their top defencemen but probably didn’t expect their scorers to go MIA as well. The Canucks were held to a single tally for the first time in nearly a month with Daniel Sedin being Vancouver’s only shooter who managed to beat Pekka Rinne.
If ever there was a prime opportunity for the Canucks’ offence to bounce back, it would be tonight against the Stars – a team the Canucks have absolutely lit up over and over again this season. Vancouver has out-scored Dallas 15-3 over three games played in the season series including posting a season-high seven goals the last time the Stars visited Rogers Arena back on January 24 in a 7-1 win.
Yesterday was a travel day for the Canucks so any news of potential lineup changes will come on Saturday morning. With the Canucks not carrying any extra skaters and without having any player reportedly go down with injury on Thursday, it means Vancouver will likely ice the same lineup as they did in Nashville. Roberto Luongo, who is expected to get the start tonight, will look to avoid his first three-game regulation losing streak since November. Unless Stars’ coach Marc Crawford opts for a different look in net to try and jumpstart his squad, it should be Kari Lehtonen getting his 11th consecutive start tonight for Dallas. Lehtonen has started and lost all three games in the season series to date against the Canucks posting a dreadful 6.00 GAA and a .795 save percentage.
Read the entire preview exclusively at Canucks.com.
Tonight’s game faces off at 7:00 pm PT and can be seen coast-to-coast in Canada on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. Listen live on the TEAM 1040 Sports Radio or online at teamradio.ca.