Back-to-back early games give Canucks a chance to get back to winning ways on the weekend

Back-to-back early games give Canucks a chance to get back to winning ways on the weekend

After splitting the opening two games of their five-game road trip, the Vancouver Canucks are in Detroit to battle the Red Wings on Saturday morning and will follow that up with a Sunday affair against the Washington Capitals.

It’s time for a double check.

Let’s go!

The Canucks have their eyes on a comeback response after suffering their first regulation loss since Jan. 4. Over their last 13 games, the Canucks are 10-1-2, but they won’t be sitting on their record. The team is looking to get back into the winning column and this weekend will have a pair of early games to get them back on track.

Please note the most important sentence in this article: Saturday’s game is at 10:00am PT and Sunday’s will start at 10:30am PT.

The Red Wings are having a strong season and hold the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are also in the midst of their best stretch of the season and hold a 9-2-2 record in their last 13 games. They have outscored their opponents 44-33 during their hot streak and have been led by their captain, Dylan Larkin.

Larkin has scored 10 goals in his last 13 games and has clicked well with linemates Alex DeBrincat and 21-year-old Lucas Raymond.

Young Raymond is having a career year and is at 67 points. He was selected fourth overall in the 2020 draft and is in his third NHL season with the Wings. Raymond isn’t the only impact young player on their roster. Mo Seider is the main man after all, and he’s eaten up a lot of minutes this season.

Seider is playing on both special teams units and is paired with Jake Walman on Detroit’s top pairing. The defense corps includes some familiar names like Shayne Gostisbehere, Ben Chiarot, Olli Maatta and Jeff Petry.

Between the pipes, Alex Lyon is starting to separate himself from the pack as the number one goalkeeper. He holds a .922% save percentage in 21 starts and is 13-6-2 on the season. Lyon has one of the league’s best goalscorers, with an above-average stat of 11.8 GSAA.

Quick Shots in Competition (DET):

  • The Red Wings have the 11th-ranked penalty kill in the league and have killed 81.3% of the penalties they’ve taken this season. They’ve been hot on PK lately, killing 17 of their last 19.
  • Their power play also ranks 11th in the league. He’s hitting 22.7% and the leaders in power play goals are DeBrincat and Larkin, who are tied with eight.
  • Veteran NHLer Patrick Kane is expected to return from an injury that has sidelined him since January 14.
  • Mo Seider is one of five players in the NHL with over 100 shots and blocked shots this season. Ben Chiarot will join that club soon as he needs just seven more blocked shots and two more hits.
  • The Red Wings have scored all over the lineup and have 10 players on their roster with double-digit goals. Larkin leads with 23 goals and is the only Red Wings player with over 20 goals.

Now, let’s dive into Sunday’s opponent, the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals will also be in the second day of a doubleheader as they take on the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The Caps have struggled of late, they have lost six in a row but still sit just seven points out of a wild card spot.

Dylan Strome is starting to evolve into their team’s offensive leader while Alex Ovechkin is still producing at a high level. Strome and Ovechkin are tied for the team lead with 33 points this season. The big difference between Strome and Ovechkin’s production has been the efficiency of their shots. The season has not been pleasant for Ovechkin, he has a shooting percentage of 6.9%, while Strome’s has been much better, reaching 17.6%.

Ovechkin and Strome are joined by All-Star Tom Wilson on the Caps’ top line, and they lead a top-six that sees a second line of Max Pacioretty, the speedy Connor McMichael and TJ Oshie.

In the backfield, attack-minded defenseman John Carlson joins Rasmus Sandin, Joel Edmundson and former Canuck Ethan Bear in a defense corps that has combined for 10 goals this season.

Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren have essentially split starts this season, and Lindgren has much better strikeout stats in his starts – posting a .912% save percentage compared to Kuemper’s .894%. With the Cups playing back to back over the weekend, we’ll have to check in on Saturday to see who they’ll be starting against the Bruins.

Quick Shots in Competition (WASH):

  • Alex Ovechkin’s shooting percentage has never been this low in a season and he has only ever finished a season shooting under 10%. He appears to be regressing to the mean.
  • John Carlson is third in the NHL in average ice time per game. Carlson is averaging 25:36 a night now. It will be interesting to watch how he looks in the Capitals’ second straight game and third game in four nights.
  • The Caps have the 27th power rating in the league, and although Ovechkin has fired 130 shots on net, he has just five goals with the man advantage this season.
  • As for their penalty kill, it ranks 17th in the league with a 79.3% kill percentage. Tom Wilson and Connor McMichael each have a shorthanded goal this season.

The Canucks are looking to regroup and get back to their winning ways this weekend and we once again have these early starts for their weekend road games.

Controlling special teams, the power play has been hot lately, scoring 10 goals in their last 27 attempts. That’s good for a 37% conversion rate. The problem has been that the Canucks have allowed four shorthanded goals against over their last three games. Look for this to be fixed quickly.

The Canucks are currently five points back of the second place team in the Western Conference and remain number one in the league in goal differential at +56. The team has been extremely motivated after the losses and has scored six goals in each of the last two games after a loss in regulation.

Since the turn of the calendar in 2024, Elias Pettersson ranks second in the league in goals with 14 goals and is fifth in points with 22.

JT Miller is tied with Connor McDavid for seventh in points since the start of 2024. Miller has seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 15 games.

The duo of Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek have now played over 715 minutes of five-on-five play together and their numbers are showing up extremely well. When Hughes and Hronek are on the ice together, the Canucks have scored 53 goals and allowed 29. That gives them a 64.3% share of the goal.

No pair has been on the ice for more goals scored; in fact, no pairing is that close. The second-best offensive duo in the NHL is the duo of Jacob Slavin and Brent Burns, who have been on the ice for 42 goals – which is 11 fewer than Hughes and Hronek.

Backup goalie Casey DeSmith could see action this weekend, and he’s been terrific over his last six starts. DeSmith has just one regulation loss during that span, giving him a 7-3-4 record on the year. DeSmith has a .916% save percentage over his last six games and had one shutout in that span.

The Canucks’ best performers over the past five years:

Brock Boeser: 3g-5a-8p
Quinn Hughes: 1g-7a-8p
Pius Sutter: 4g-2a-6p
JT Miller: 1g-4a-5p
Elias Pettersson: 2g-2a-4p

A final reminder that both games are early games this weekend.

Saturday’s game starts at 10:00 AM PT against the Detroit Red Wings.

Sunday’s game is a 10:30 a.m. PT kickoff against the Washington Capitals.

Both games can be seen on Sportsnet and the radio broadcast is available on Sportsnet 650 with Brendan Batchelor on the phone.

Grab your coffee and enjoy the weekend games.

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