Canucks Pettersson, Blues Parayko

Canucks Game Day 38: Roadie Begins, Blues Clues

Canucks Game Facts

Tonight: Vancouver Canucks at St. Louis Blues

Where: Enterprise Center

When: 5 pm pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Thatcher Demko for Vancouver, Jordan Binnington for St. Louis.

Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet wasn’t overly thrilled with the 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, happy to get the two points, but not so happy that it was a 20-minute win. Vancouver played a slop-fest after scoring five goals in the first period.

Overall the Canucks are 5th best in the NHL in terms of goals allowed (2.57 per game), a fact that would make any coach happy, while lighting the lamp at a rate better than any other team, averaging 3.84 per contest.

Vancouver lost forward Phil Di Giuseppe to a lower body injury in Tuesday’s game and have since called up Linus Karlsson to fill the roster spot. Nils Höglander or Andrei Kuzmenko could be a scratch Thursday evening. Tocchet said he’s going to try a handful of different looks up front, rotating players around until he sees the consistent performances he wants.

This is the start of Vancouver’s season-long seven-game roadie.

The Blues are 5-and-3 since Drew Bannister took over for fired head coach Craig Berube back on December 14th. For now at least, he’s there on an interim basis. Bannister was coaching the Blues AHL affiliate for three seasons. He’s had plenty of time to get to know and practice with his NHL players this past week; St. Louis hasn’t played a game since December 30th.

With their league leading nine shorthanded goals, the Blues have a net-PK (PK % plus shorties) that’s 5th best in the NHL at 88.7%.

Right defenceman Justin Faulk has been day-to-day with a lower body injury, but should be good to go following a decent period of rest.

Demko and the Canucks shut-out the Blues 5-0 back on October 27th at Rogers Arena.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Elias Pettersson scored two goals in Tuesday’s victory and has six points over his last five games. Forward Pius Suter tallied two goals and an assist against Ottawa.

Centre J.T. Miller is 6th in NHL scoring and leads his team with 50 points.

Not so hot would be the aforementioned Höglander and Kuzmenko. Both have moved around the line-up. “Hoagie” has one point, a goal, over his last eight games, while “Koozy” has four points, all goals, over his last eleven. Two of them came against the San Jose Sharks after he was boosted back to the top line.

Both appear to be back on Tocchet’s hot seat to some extent.

For the Blues, leading scorer Robert Thomas has piled up seven points over his last five games and 12 over his last eight, while winger Jordan Kyrou has heated up with nine points over his last eight games.

D-man Scott Perunovich has four points over the last four games.

Special Teams

The Canucks power play went 1-for-1 against the Senators while the PK stopped Ottawa’s lone PP chance.

On the season Vancouver has produced with a 24.2% success rate with the man advantage while the penalty kill is a net-81.3%, good for 21st best in the NHL.

Although improved over the last couple of weeks, the Blues PP is next-to-last in the NHL this season with an 11.3% effectiveness. Their PK, as mentioned, is solid, particularly with the league high of nine shorties.

Coming In:

Canucks: 24-10-and-3 for 51 points, tied for the second most in the NHL, coming off a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Blues: 18-17-and-1 for 37 points and sixth place in the Central Division after a 4-2 loss to the Penguins in PIttsburgh on December 30th.

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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.