08 February 2010
I wait all year for this game. This is the one game where my two teams face each other. It's the one day that I can rock my Lightning jersey around Vancouver and this year I can do it with a little swagger. Last year the Lightning had no hope in beating the Canucks, this year the Lightning have a few things going for them: the team is playing far better together as a team, our goalie Niittymaki has been outstanding most nights and Stamkos is the powerhouse that we had hoped for. Woo!
The Canucks are beasts. And I'm not saying that just because they are my home team. In their last 10 games, they have a record of 8-2-0 and they have a home record of 23-7-1 largely due to the huge homestand that they had in January. Heading out on the road, the Canucks have struggled, batting around .500 and have given up 2 or more goals early in the games against the Leafs, Ottawa and Boston. In the games against the Leafs and Boston the Canucks had to make a strong come back to win the game, in their game against the Senators they never found the goals to mount a comeback until it was too late. The Canucks look tired and slow in the 1st period against Boston, but by the 3rd period they were on fire.
The Canucks have their top line of the Sedins and Burrows that can run a cycling clinic on teams. They are also the master of blind passes to each other that will leave you scratching your head. Their second line is full of speed with Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson but the Canucks need ever more secondary scoring from them. Their third line still can't find it's scoring touch and is really needing a good third line center. And Luongo put on a show in the game against Boston.
The Canucks are without winger Demitra who left the team yesterday due to personal reasons. They are also without two of their top 4 defencmen, Willie Mitchell (concussion, neck, back) and Kevin Bieksa (severed ankle tendons).
The Lightning have been 7-2-1 and are still in the playoff race currently sitting in 8th spot. After a huge team rally against Calgary to tie up the game, and Meszaros getting the game winner. Niittymaki has been 6-0-1 in his last seven starts.
Shane O'Brien makes his first trip back to Tampa Bay after being traded to Vancouver in 2008 for Lukas Krajicek. Mattias Ohlund faces the Canucks for the first time since leaving the club to sign a long-term contract with the Lightning this summer.
The Sedins on Ohlund to the Vancouver Sun
"He was our Dad," Daniel said with a smile. "He helped us and Alex Edler, too. He's a big part of why we are where we are right now."
"He is going to play the same way he always does and you just have to try and keep your head up and watch out for him," Henrik said. "He is one of the best hitters in the league and when he comes at you he is going to hit you. I think we're lucky he's a lefty and he is going to come at Burr (linemate Alex Burrows) maybe."
"I heard Henrik say I'm lucky he's the left defenceman," Daniel joked. "I'm not going to cross the ice when he's on the ice. When you play with him you realize how big a man he is. He has such great timing, too, for a big guy, so you have to be careful. We'll try to chip it in and use our speed."
- David Hale has been recalled from Norfolk and was subsequently put on injured reserve with a lower body injury (broken leg)