Flames Zary, Canucks DeSmith

Canucks Game Day; Avoiding A Letdown In Calgary

Can confidence and consistency for the Canucks overcome what could be a letdown possibility against the Flames in Calgary on Thursday night. The way things are going for the BC Boys, one would think there’s a good chance they’ll be fine.

Maybe it comes down to just how desperate this Flames club has become. Is there a chance they’ve decided to get their you-know-what together? It’s been a team of underachievers and malcontents who are coming off a three-game eastern trip.

Canucks Game Facts

Tonight: Vancouver Canucks at Calgary Flames

Where: Scotiabank Saddledome

When: 6 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Casey DeSmith for Vancouver, Jacob Markstrom for Calgary.

The Flames started to show signs of progress with their 2-1 victory in Montreal against the Canadiens two nights ago. Although they gave up 35 shots-on-goal, they also made the sacrifice of blocking 20 more, and improved defensively as the game moved along. It didn’t hurt having their number-one goalie Markstrom back from injury.

The Canucks have recently been taking advantage of teams playing the 2nd-half of back-to-back sets and Thursday night they’ll be the ones in those shoes for the second time this season, yet it’s the first time in almost three weeks.

Beating the Islanders and their former captain Bo Horvat last night might lead to a letdown for Vancouver, especially considering this game could be a bit of ‘trap’ regardless. The often discombobulated Flames are three games below .500.

With injured defenceman Carson Soucy out of the line-up for six to eight weeks, Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet went with two righties on his third pair last night, with Mark Friedman playing the left side. He and Noah Juulsen saw limited ice time.

The Flames are healthy as it relates to players who would be considered top or middle contributors.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

See our earlier piece from Thursday on the NHL’s top three scorers, all Canucks, Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and defenceman Quinn Hughes.

It would be difficult to describe many Flames as “hot”. Nazem Kadri leads the team in scoring with nine points in 15 games.

Kadri’s young left winger Connor Zary had a goal and an assist against the Habs on Tuesday night and is a point-a-game player in his first six NHL games. The former Kamloops Blazer was the club’s 1st-round pick in 2020.

Special Teams

The Canucks power play went 3-for-6 on Wednesday and improved to an astounding 33.3% for the season, 2nd best in the NHL. The Flames haven’t found the magic just yet, clicking on the man advantage 14% of the time.

As for the penalty kill, this is where things flip flop. The Flames have stayed alive at times with a PK that’s 88% efficient. No so much for the Canucks: 23rd in the NHL at 75%. The Isles went 2-for-2 on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

Coming In:

Canucks: 12-3-and-1 for 25 points and first place in the Pacific Division. They beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday night. The Canucks will play their third game in four nights at home on Saturday against the Seattle Kraken.

Flames: 5-8-and-2 for 12 points, good for 6th place in the division. Calgary beat Montreal 2-1 in Hab-land on Tuesday night.

Entries Of Interest:

— The Hugeness Of The Canucks Bo Horvat Trade

— Canucks Improve With Hronek Acquisition (from March)

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson has covered the NHL in five different decades. He’s authored 4 books on hockey and is a veteran TV and radio play-by-play man and reporter.