Sunday February 16 - Vancouver Canucks vs. Anaheim Ducks - 2 p.m. - Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet 650
Standings as of Saturday morning:
Vancouver Canucks: 58 GP, 32-21-5, 69 pts, first in Pacific Division
Anaheim Ducks: 57 GP, 23-27-7, 54 pts, seventh in Pacific Division
With another afternoon game on tap to wrap up Sedin Week on Sunday, I'll set that up now, as well as looking at what has been going on around the team for the past few days.
Sunday is the Legacy Game, which celebrates Daniel and Henrik's extensive work in the community. The twins will be on hand once again at Rogers Arena on Sunday, for a pre-game ceremony that begins at 1:45 p.m. and will also include children who have been positively impacted by Daniel and Henrik's work.
Their commitment to the community is a huge part of who they are and why they made such a profound impact in Vancouver. It was certainly acknowledged during the jersey retirement night on Wednesday but it's great to see this part of their legacy getting special acknowledgement on Sunday.
Daniel and Henrik were also with the team on Friday night for the annual Dice & Ice fundraiser in support of the Canucks for Kids Fund. Click the picture to scroll through additional images, including the Sedins at their table.
It's also nice to see injured Brock Boeser with the group, not showing any obvious signs of injury — although he has been ruled out for Sunday's game.
Full credit to Brandon Sutter for stepping into a bigger role in Boeser's absence, though. He had a power-play goal on Monday against Nashville and was in on all three goals on Wednesday, finishing with a goal and two assists.
Though he has still struggled with injury issues this season, Sutter's now up to 15 points in 33 games this year — an improvement from last season, when he had just six points in 26 games. He's also a plus-eight this season — tied with Chris Tanev for the third-best plus-minus on the team. The current team leaders are Elias Pettersson at plus-12 and J.T. Miller at plus-9.
The Canucks were off the ice both Thursday and Friday, as WWE Smackdown took over Rogers Arena. Saturday, they're practicing at 11:30 a.m. in front of the team's season-ticket holders.
We do have one injured player back in the mix on Saturday:
It seems oddly fitting that Tyler Motte gets back on the ice after missing two and a half weeks with a shoulder injury on the same day that we get news that the player who injured him, Erik Karlsson, is now out for the rest of the season with a broken thumb.
Motte is skating as an extra — and it looks like Travis Green is nudging his lines back toward their usual deployment after shuffling the mix for the last two games.
So far, the Canucks have been doing what they need to do on this homestand, picking up points against teams on the wrong side of the playoff cut-line. They'll need to continue that on Sunday against the Ducks — but it sure would help if they could find a way not to get caved in by their opposition. Over the last month, they've outshot their opponents just twice in 11 games — 35-32 in the shootout loss in Carolina on Feb. 2 and 39-18 in the win over the Sharks at Rogers Arena on Jan. 18. Over those 11 games, they're 29th in the league with an average of 27.6 shots per game, and 30th with an average of 36.1 shots against — and yet, their record over those 11 games is 7-3-1.
Cue those chants again: "Marky! Marky!"
Going into a busy Saturday schedule, the Canucks have a three-point lead over Edmonton, Vegas and Calgary in the Pacific Division, with Arizona five points back.
The Oilers are in Florida for a 1 p.m. PT start on Saturday while the other three teams will play late games at home: Calgary hosts Chicago, Arizona meets Washington and Vegas plays the Islanders.
As for the Canucks' next opponent — the Ducks are in Canada for back-to-back games against Vancouver and Calgary after a strange week at home that saw their Tuesday night game against the Blues postponed after Jay Bouwmeester's cardiac episode, then a 6-0 loss to the Flames on Thursday that flew in the face of the old "You Can't Win Here" trend that Calgary suffered through at Honda Center for more than a decade.
Last year was rough for the Ducks, as they finished outside the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons and parted ways with coach Randy Carlyle just over a year ago. They finished 24th overall last season with 80 points — just one behind the Canucks.
This season, the two teams are headed in different directions. Vancouver sits 12th overall in the league standings heading into Saturday's games, and Anaheim has slipped to 27th. At 34, Ryan Getlzaf continues to lead his team in scoring, with 37 points in 55 games, but hasn't gotten much help from his supporting cast.
It was hoped that new coach Dallas Eakins would be able to unlock the potential of some of the team's young players after spending the previous four seasons with the Ducks' farm team in San Diego, but that hasn't come to pass quite yet. Behind Getzlaf, the Ducks' stat sheet delivers familiar names like Rakell, Silfverberg, Henrique, Fowler, Kase and Lindholm before we find 22-year-old rookie Sam Steel in eighth place in team scoring, with 19 points.
Here's how the Ducks rolled their lines against the Flames on Thursday:
In addition to the long-term injuries to Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves, Ondrej Kase and our old pal Erik Gudbranson are currently listed as day-to-day — Kase with an illness, Guddy with an upper-body injury.
The Canucks and Ducks have met just once so far this season — a 2-1 shootout loss in Anaheim back on November 1. They'll face each other twice more next month — March 20 in Anaheim, then March 28 in Vancouver.
One other note before I wrap up for today — if you missed it, Micheal Ferland had another setback in the first game of his conditioning stint in Utica on Friday night. He was pulled from the game before the beginning of the second period.
Here's Saturday's update:
Friday was Ferland's first game action since December. Seems like he needs even more time.
I'm sure it's so frustrating for a player who clawed his way to an NHL career seeing his prime years evaporate like this, but the first priority has to be his long-term health.
We have seen players come back successfully after very long absences — Sidney Crosby, of course. Another promising example: Stephen Johns of Dallas, who's the same age as Ferland, returned to NHL action last month after being sidelined since March of 2018 with his head injury.
Nobody needs to worry right now about whether or not Ferland's career is over. The only concern should be making sure that he gets the help and treatment that he needs to handle his condition in the best possible way over the long term, whether that's on or off the ice.
On that cheery note — don't forget, puck drop is at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the Sedins' Legacy ceremony at 1:45.
Enjoy the game!