The Canucks (5-5-1) take on the Calgary Flames (4-4-1) on Tuesday, November 1st at 6:30pm on TSN at the Scotiabank Saddledome in the first game of six on a long road trip. This will be the first time the two fierce rivals play against each other this season. Both teams have had a fairly slow start so far, and hope to begin November on a clean slate, putting a troubled October behind them.
However, the Flames have had relatively reliable goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, who has a .930% save percentage and 2.02 goals against average. While Roberto Luongo has had some very good games this season, his inconsistency could pose a challenge. With a .869% save percentage and 3.54 goals against average, it is evident that October is generally his worst month of the season. The tables could very well be turned though, especially if Luongo exhibits the goaltending that many Canucks fans are used to, similar to the save he made against Alexander Ovechkin during Saturday night’s game against the Capitals.
On the offensive side of things, the high amount of secondary scoring from Saturday’s game could pose to be a large prospect for winning against the Flames. With Maxim Lapierre, Chris Higgins and Alex Edler all netting two goals against the Capitals, it could be a spark to ignite all four lines and set off a Canucks team that looks familiar. Though with Henrik and Daniel Sedin combining for 26 points so far this season, the first line will most likely have an impact. On the other hand, the Flames have had a hard time scoring consistently, with captain Jarome Iginla only held to four points (two goals, two assists) so far this season. Yet, this could possibly be a turnaround game for them if the Canucks get off to a bad start.
Alex Edler is currently on a roll with two goals and seven assists to add to his repertoire. The Canucks currently have not lost a game after leading through the first or second periods. However, when trailing after the first, their win rate drops to a lackluster 25%. It is absolutely critical that the defense is able to contain the Flames’ strong offensive lines, as the rate of winning drops by 75% as soon as that first goal is let in. With an average of 2.91 goals against per game for the Canucks, things could get ugly fast if the defense is unable to stop consecutive goals, quite a bit like the 3-2 loss to the Oilers at Rexall Place on October 25th. The Flames hold a 2.56 goals against per game average which is a good stat, and quite average. However, their defensive breakdowns can lead to quick goals against in rapid succession similar to the Canucks. Interestingly, the Flames only have a 25% win rate when scoring first, so that could ultimately not even be the biggest factor for the Canucks.
In terms of specialty teams, the Canucks boast a 21.2% powerplay conversion rate while the Flames have a more reserved 16.1%. Conversely, both teams have very good penalty killing units, who both hover around the 85% mark. Therefore, while it will most certainly be a bad idea for the Flames to take any undisciplined penalties, it is quite possible that many penalties taken can be killed – though this certainly won’t be an ideal game plan. If the Canucks can keep up the secondary scoring and carry it over to the powerplay, they have a good chance of winning the game.
Keys to winning the game (Canucks)
- Score first.
- Have all four lines involved in the offense.
- Consistent goaltending. A solid save in the first five minutes can make the opponent quite a bit less confident.
- Defensive breakdowns have to be kept to a minimum, and when they happen, there has to be accountability and a recovery.
Starting Lineup (in order of lines)*
D. Sedin - H. Sedin - A. Burrows
D. Booth - R. Kesler - C. Hodgson
C. Higgins - M. Malhotra - J. Hansen
A. Volpatti - M. Lapierre - D. Weise
D. Hamhuis - K. Bieksa
A. Edler - S. Salo
K. Ballard - A. Sulzer
*Lineups are subject to change. This is based on the most recent update.
Additionally, in case you missed it, here’s the save by Roberto Luongo on Alex Ovechkin. Enjoy the game!