Canucks Blueger, Blue Jackets Gaudreau

Canucks Game Day 44: Vancouver Rolls Into Columbus

Canucks Game Facts

Today: Vancouver Canucks at Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Nationwide Arena

When: 10 am pacific

TV/Radio: Sportsnet / AM-650

Key Factors:

Starting goalkeepers: Casey DeSmith for Vancouver, Elvis Merzlikins for Columbus.

The Canucks own the most points in the NHL, 61, with one more game played than their two closest pursuers (Winnipeg Jets 60, Boston Bruins 59).

The Canucks core remains healthy with the top ‘Lotto-line’ on fire as of late. Vancouver is 6-and-1 so far in 2024 and 9-2-and-1 dating back to December 17th.

Winger Phil Di Giuseppe, who gradually lost some of his lustre after being head coach Rick Tocchet’s favourite early in the season, remains on injured reserve.

“Banged up” doesn’t begin to describe the Columbus roster. The Blue Jackets injured reserve line-up could be their all-star team: Winger Patrik Laine, defenseman Zach Werenski, and captain Boone Jenner.

The Canucks will try to take advantage of a club that will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

Who’s Hot? And Not …

Only two Canucks picked up points in the 1-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. That would be goal scorer Sam Lafferty and the man with the lone assist, Nikita Zadorov.

Elias Pettersson put up a whopping 12 points over the previous four games, including the game winning goal in four straight. He factored directly into all four goals in Thursday night’s OT win over the Penguins.

Linemate J.T. Miller had three assists while Brock Boeser tallied two goals in that game. Defenceman Filip Hronek added two assists.

Miller is 5th in overall NHL scoring with 58 points. Boeser is 4th in goals with 27. Blueline partners Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek share the league lead in plus-minus at a plus-32.

Hughes (51) is three points ahead of Cale Makar of the Avalanche for scoring by defenseman and is fourth overall in assists with 40.

Winger Andrei Kuzmenko is pointless in his last seven games. He played just 10:15 and had one shot in Buffalo.

This sums things up rather nicely for the Blue Jackets: The two top players in team scoring are Johnny Gaudreau (26)(pictured), who’s had one point in his last six games, and defenseman Werenski (25), who hasn’t played since December 27th.

With an assist against Seattle on Saturday, rookie Adam Fantilli also joined them at 25 points.

D-man Ivan Provorov benefited from two lucky caroms in scoring two goals from the point against the Kraken.

(Canucks centre Teddy Blueger is the other player pictured)

Special Teams

The Canucks power play went 0-for-2 in Buffalo while the penalty kill held the Sabres to an 0-for-3 on their man advantage.

Vancouver touts an impressive 23.2% success rate on the PP for the season, but a less than adequate 78.7% on the penalty kill.

The Blue Jackets have the 25th ranked PP in the NHL at 15% while their PK is close to the Canucks at 79.3%, ranked 17th.

Coming In:

Canucks: 29-11-and-3, 1st place in the Pacific Division, coming off a 1-0 victory in Buffalo against the Sabres on Saturday afternoon.

Blue Jackets: 13-21-and-9 following a 7-4 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night. Columbus sits in last place in the Metropolitan Division with 35 points, the 5th fewest in the NHL.

Recent Canucks:

— Pacific Schedule Strength And The Red Hot 5

— Canucks Prospect Named World Juniors MVP

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.