The Vancouver Canucks face what should be a tired Dallas Stars team in the midst of a hellacious road trip that took them from Buffalo to Seattle to Vancouver for their fourth game in six nights and then on to Edmonton and Calgary for what will be six games in ten.
So far they’ve looked pretty darn good, crushing the Buffalo Sabres 10-4 last Thursday before taking two wins against the Seattle Kraken, 4-3 in overtime on Saturday and 5-2 on Monday night. They might be ripe for a bit of dip as they hit the rejuvenated Canucks.
“It’s a tough schedule,” Stars head coach Pete DeBoer said postgame Monday. “We’ve gotta get on a plane here, get out of here, travel and wake up tomorrow and play against a real good Vancouver team who’s been playing much better. So we’ll enjoy this tonight and start concentrating on them as soon as we get on the plane.”
Maybe the Stars will use a bit of a revenge factor to overcome any fatigue. Vancouver handed them a 5-4 overtime loss in Dallas on February 27th. They’ll likely try to get the win while using (the other) Matt Murray in net. The 25-year-old Alberta native has one NHL game under his belt, a win for Dallas against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 2nd.
Consistent starter and emerging star Jake Oettinger played last night in Seattle and regular back-up Scott Wedgewood is dinged up.
One Canucks player who will be ready to go is Russian forward Andrei Kuzmenko, first on the team with 32 goals and fourth in overall scoring with 59 points. He’s just one point behind J.T. Miller and two behind defenceman Quinn Hughes. Elias Pettersson is way out in front of the rest of his teammates with 82 points.
“I like hockey, this is the simple answer,” Kuzmenko told media after practice on Monday, explaining why he’s always smiling and happy. “For me I don’t think about how many goals, how many assists, I want happy every game, I like this league, I like it. Every day, every game, I like practice, for me I’m always happy, it doesn’t matter how many scores this season.”
On January 26th the Canucks signed Kuzmenko to a two-year contract that kicks in next season with an annual cap hit of $5.5-million.
Kuzmenko scored the overtime game-winning goal at Dallas two weeks ago and added two assists.
Anthony Beauvillier also starred in the game with two goals and an assist while Hughes tallied three helpers.