#5 Carolina Hurricanesvs.#6 Vancouver Canucks
Written by Chris Kubala
When and Where: Sunday, October 16, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, 10 pm ET
Lines: Vancouver -114, Carolina +103; Over/Under: 5
An inter-conference matchup takes place in Western Canada. The Carolina Hurricanes travel to battle the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night. Carolina opened their season with a 5-4 overtime loss at Winnipeg Thursday night. Vancouver was one of the last three teams to play a regular season game, along with Arizona and Colorado. The Canucks hosted the Flames in a Pacific Division rivalry in their season opener Saturday night. Vancouver won the last six meetings, including a pair last season.
Carolina had their chances in the opener against Winnipeg. They had the Jets on the ropes early in the third period but wilted. That ended up costing them a point in the standings. The Hurricanes are 7th in the league with four goals for on the year. Carolina stands 22nd in goals against as they allowed five goals this season. The Hurricanes were 2 of 4 with the man advantage, giving them the top power play unit in the league in the early going at 50 percent. Carolina killed off four of shorthanded situations, putting them 16th in the league.
The Hurricanes outshot Winnipeg 10-6 in the opening period but skated to the dressing room tied at one. Carolina gave up the game’s opening goal but rallied to tie the game on Jeff Skinner’s first of the year at 11:23. Lee Stempniak assisted on the marker. In the second period, Carolina held an 11-7 edge in shots on net while scoring the only two goals of the frame. Stempniak gave the Hurricanes a 2-1 lead with a power play goal at 4:47 of the period. In the last minute of the period, Jordan Staal extended the lead to 3-1 with an unassisted marker. Early in the third, Carolina jumped to a 4-1 lead as Viktor Rask scored his first of the year on the power play. Justin Faulk and Sebastian Aho picked up the assists.
Things went sour from there: the Hurricanes allowed a shorthanded goal nine seconds later and Winnipeg tied the game with 1:29 to play in regulation. Carolina was outshot 12-5 in the third period and went to overtime tied at 4 having blown a three goal lead. Both teams took one shot in the extra session but it was Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele bagging the winner for the Jets. Cam Ward made 21 saves but took the OT loss to fall to 0-0-1.
Vancouver struggled on both ends of the ice last season. The Canucks finished the year 31-38-13 for 75 points, which left them 6th in the Pacific Division, ahead of only Edmonton. There were issues on both ends of the ice, something the Canucks have to resolve in order to be a playoff contender. Vancouver was second last in the league in goals scored with 191. They weren’t a ton better on the defensive side, finishing 24th with 243 goals allowed on the season. Vancouver finished 28th on the power play, converting 15.8 percent of their opportunities. The Canucks were 18th in penalty killing by successfully killing off 81.1 percent of their shorthanded situations.
The Canucks didn’t get much production out of anyone last season as they had just two players break the 20 goal plateau. Daniel Sedin had team highs in goals (28) and points (61) while Jannik Hansen potted 22 goals on the year. Bo Horvat chipped in 16 goals and 40 points last season but finished a dreadful -30 on the year. The Canucks hope that the addition of Loui Eriksson via free agency from Boston can jump start things offensively. He finished with 30 goals and 33 assists last season in 82 games. Vancouver shelled out a six year, $36 million deal to get him so he’ll need to produce. Henrik Sedin had a team leading 44 assists but found the net just 11 times on the year. The team has to account for the loss of defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Yannick Weber via free agency.
Ryan Miller was the #1 goaltender last season but struggled. He was 17-24-9 with a 2.70 GAA, a .916 save percentage and one shutout in 51 games. Miller was slated to start Saturday so it’s unclear if he’ll go here. Jacob Markstrom (13-14-4, 2.73 GAA, .915 save percentage in 33 games) could get the start in net if Miller struggles at all.
The Canucks didn’t do much in the offseason to try and bolster their team. Instead, the club is relying on unproven young guys hoping that some of them can deliver at the NHL level. That likely means another long season in British Columbia if you’re a fan of the Canucks. Carolina still has work to do but they’re further along the power curve than the Canucks. Carolina needs to tighten up defensively but they can put the puck in the net. Look for the Canes to learn from their season opening loss to get a win here.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.