The Vancouver Canucks are fortunately playing some of their worst hockey post All-Star break, after they built a comfortable and sizable lead atop the Northwest Division. Though they don’t appear to be in danger of challenging the St. Louis Blues for top spot in the Western Conference, the Canucks enter tonight’s game against the Blue Jackets with an 11-point advantage over second-place Colorado in the division.
Vancouver has dropped two straight games and is 2-4-2 in its last eight contests overall, but it’s never easy to play the Canucks at Rogers Arena, where they have been flat-out dominant in stretches throughout the year. Their total output (to date) of 219 goals is the most among all Western teams and tied with Detroit for top spot offensively. In the Canucks’ favor is their current seven-game homestand that they hoped would help push them higher in the conference standings, but instead, they have dropped four of their last five on home ice and are looking to right the ship tonight against Columbus.
The most recent slip-up at Rogers Arena was a 5-4 loss to the Coyotes on Wednesday night – a game that saw Vancouver’s defensive struggles continue against a Phoenix club that is starting to turn things around and solidify its playoff position. Roberto Luongo did not have a good night and couldn’t come up with the big stops as the Canucks tried to rally in the third period, and in an effort to steady the ship, Cory Schneider is expected to start tonight versus the Blue Jackets.
For the Blue Jackets, it’s pretty simple: they are seeking a much better outing than they had Wednesday in Edmonton. Columbus had its opportunities (including a four-minute power play), but gave up a late second-period goal to Taylor Hall that made it 2-0 after 40 minutes.
D. Sedin (28)
H. Sedin (55)
H. Sedin (68)
• Tonight’s game continues a three-game road trip that began with a stop in Edmonton Wednesday and concludes tomorrow at Calgary. The Blue Jackets are 4-3-1 in their last eight road games after going 0-6-1 their previous seven road games.
• Derick Brassard had points in five-straight games after notching an assist Mar. 8 vs. Los Angeles. He has 1-5-6 the last eight games, while registering points in eight of the last 13 (3-7-10). He has collected 10-17-27 the last 38 games after being held to 2-3-5 the first 24 games of the season.
• Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting overall and second of two at Rogers Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Canucks. Columbus is 14-22-7 all-time against Vancouver, including a 6-12-3 mark at Rogers Arena.
• Columbus ranks 25th (tied) in the NHL in power play percentage (15.2 percent). The club has scored with the man advantage in 31-of-70 games. The Jackets have scored two or more power play goals in a game seven times this season. Columbus has scored one power play goal with a two-man advantage this season. Jack Johnson leads the team with five power play goals.
ALEXANDER EDLER D - #23
• Edler has blossomed into a top-four defenseman on the Canucks blue line and earned the assignment of playing against opposing teams’ top lines at just 25 years of age. He leads all Vancouver defensemen in points scored (43) and draws No. 1 power-play unit duty on a regular basis.