Lightning Kucherov, Canucks Miller

Canucks Game Day 29: Testy Week, Trade Rumours, Big Goalies

Canucks Game Facts

This Evening: Tampa Bay Lightning at Vancouver Canucks

Where: Rogers Arena

When: 7 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM 650

Key Factors:

Starting goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy vs. Thatcher Demko

It’s a marquee match-up in net with the “Big Cat” taking on “Demmer”, and it could very well come down to who makes the last big save. After missing twenty games early in the season following surgery, “Vassy’s” back to his old self according to the Tampa Bay folks. He picked up the win on Saturday night in Seattle against the Kraken.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (see video below – 3:50 mark) isn’t used to being just two games above .500 at this point, but it’s a slightly younger roster than he’s used to, particularly with a few early season injuries.

At the moment the club is battling a flu bug. Cooper says it’s been going through the team. Captain Steven Stamkos has missed action and could be back in the line-up Tuesday night while big, key D-man Victor Hedman will be a game time decision.

For Vancouver, the Andrei Kuzmenko trade chatter is floating around, although likely not a distraction in the room at this point. It’s more about “Koozy” finding his 200-foot game and how long it takes him to do it. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet might be running out of patience.

It’s a tough scene for the Russian winger who had 39 goals for Vancouver last season. He’ll be on the 4th line again tonight with Phil Di Giuseppe and centre Nils Åman.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Elias Pettersson stepped up with a three point night against the Hurricanes on Saturday and moved into a tie for 6th in NHL scoring. His 37 points are ten less than Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, the NHL’s leading scorer. “Kooch” had two goals and an assist against the Kraken including the game winner in overtime.

Ilya Mikheyev and Sam Lafferty both had a goal and an assist in Saturday night’s game.

Canucks forward J.T. Miller remains the league’s 2nd leading scorer with 40 points.

Aside from Kucherov, forward Anthony Cirelli has six points over his last four games while centre Brayden Point has cooled off a bit. Despite being second on the team with 31 points, prior to picking up an assist in Seattle, Point went pointless in his previous five games.

Special Teams

Tampa Bay’s power play didn’t click on two chances against Seattle. Overall the LIghtning sport the 3rd best man advantage in the NHL at 29.9%. Their PK went four-for-five versus Seattle three nights ago and sits 11th in the league at a decent 81.8% kill rate.

The Canucks overall power play is just two notches below Tampa’s at 26% after going 0-for-3 against the Canes.

Vancouver will want to stay out of the box against the Lightning. The Canucks penalty kill is near the bottom of the league at 75% efficiency.

Coming In:

Lightning: 13-11-and-5 after Saturday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Seattle Kraken.

Canucks: 18-9-and-1 following Saturday night’s 4-3 win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

Game Day Canucks:

— Exclusive Morning Skate on Saturday with Bolts coach Jon Cooper where he previews Canucks (3:50 mark) …

“Simmer’s Morning Skate”

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.