The Vancouver Canucks have twice lost 3-2 to the Minnesota Wild this season, the second time in overtime in St. Paul on March 24th. The first loss came in regulation way back on October 26th under then head coach Travis Green.
“They’re a big heavy team, they’re one of the hottest teams in the west obviously, and since the trade deadline they’ve been playing some great hockey,” Canucks defenceman Luke Schenn said after the morning skate. “They’re a deep line-up and we’ve got our work cut out for us tonight.”
The Wild are 7-1-and-2 in their last ten matches, have a game in-hand on the team they’re tied with in the Central Division standings, the St. Louis Blues, and they’re motivated while fighting for home ice advantage in what will be a first round series against St. Louis. The Wild and Blues both have 103 points in the standings.
The Wounded and Ailing
Thatcher Demko gets the start in net with Spencer Martin serving as his back-up. Martin replaces Jaroslav Halak who was injured in the first period against the Ottawa Senators at home on Tuesday night.
Martin was originally called up on an emergency basis that day in case Demko couldn’t serve as Halak’s back-up in the Ottawa game. Demko was seen puking on the bench during Monday night’s game against Dallas. He ended up playing the final two periods, overtime, and the shoot-out against the Senators on Tuesday and took the loss.
The illness that has been slowly circulating through the Canucks the last few weeks took forward Alex Chiasson out of the line-up for two games. He returns this evening. He’ll hope to pick up where he left off, with six goals and ten points over his last seven games. Five of those goals have come in the last four.
Otherwise it’s the same recent Canucks line-up, sans Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.
The Dallas Stars, the 2nd wild card team in the Western Conference, lost Wednesday night 5-2 to the Edmonton Oilers and now sit just two points ahead of their closest pursuer, the Vegas Golden Knights, winners last night in overtime against the Washington Capitals.
Langley native, 26-year-old left-shot defenceman Shea Theodore, who scored the OT winner against the Canucks back on April 3rd, tallied the winner against the Capitals. He’s set new career highs this season with 14 goals and 48 points and is the team’s 3rd leading scorer.
Here’s the playoff pack stack:
3rd Place – Pacific Division – Los Angeles Kings – 78 games played, 92 points
1st Wild Card – Nashville Predators – 77 games played, 93 points
2nd Wild Card – Dallas Stars – 77 games played, 91 points
Vegas Golden Knights – 78 games played, 89 points
Vancouver Canucks – 77 games played, 87 points
Two other games of extreme interest for Vancouver Canucks fans Thursday evening: the Dallas Stars visit the Calgary Flames while the Los Angeles Kings host the Chicago Blackhawks.