Many expected both the New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks to be duking it out for lottery position this season. While that isn’t the case, both teams sit outside of the playoff picture at the moment.
The Canucks are just two points better than the Devils in the NHL standings, but they are only three points out of a Wild Card spot in a weaker Western Conference. New Jersey is seven points back of a playoff spot, and a 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games means that they need to start scoring more if they want to make a playoff push. They have the worst goals for per game in the league.
This matchup represents another opportunity to compare Bo Horvat and Cory Schnieder. This is the sixth head-to-head matchup the two have had since the trade, in what’s been a very different season for both players.
Horvat has steadily become the offensive leader for the Canucks, leading the team in both goals and points. Schnieder, on the other hand, is surprisingly struggling this season. His .909 save percentage would hold up to be the worst of his career since he cracked the NHL as Luongo’s backup in 2010-11.
New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks
Sunday, Jan. 15, Rogers Arena, 4:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast Channels: SNP, MSG+
2016-17 Season Series: Dec. 6 – Vancouver Canucks 2 – New Jersey Devils 3
New Jersey Devils: 17-18-9, 43 Points
Road Record: 7-12-6
Hot Players: Kyle Palmieri
Key Injuries: Sergey Kalinin, Andy Greene, John Moore
Taylor Hall – Adam Henrique – Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Mike Cammalleri – Travis Zajac – Kyle Palmieri
Pavel Zacha – Jacob Josefson – Beau Bennett
Miles Wood – Blake Coleman – Devante Smith-Pelly
Jon Merrill – Ben Lovejoy
Kyle Quincey – Damon Severson
Karl Stollery – Steven Santini
Vancouver Canucks: 20-19-5, 45 Points
Home Record: 15-6-2
Hot Players: Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund
Key Injuries: Erik Gudbranson, Jannik Hansen, Philip Larsen, Ben Hutton, Derek Dorsett
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Loui Eriksson
Markus Granlund – Brandon Sutter – Jayson Megna
Sven Baertschi – Bo Horvat – Alex Burrows
Brendan Gaunce – Michael Chaput – Jack Skille
Alex Edler – Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa – Chris Tanev
Nikita Tryamkin – Alex Biega
1) The Canucks will be thrilled to get back home, after enduring a three-game road trip where they went winless and saw their six-game win streak come to an end. Although they played well enough to win any of those three games, they only came away with two overtime losses.
2) The Devils aren’t much better on the road than the Canucks are, and only managed to record their seventh road win of the season on Friday against Calgary. It snapped a four-game losing streak for the franchise, who’s playoff hopes have all but dissipated in the ultra-tough Metropolitan Division.
3) It’s strange to see Schneider struggle so much this season, even if New Jersey’s defence is mediocre. Schneider usually ranks around the top five in the league for save percentage but his .909 this season has him at 29th overall. He has played well since being pulled in Toronto, but he’s still on a personal four-game losing streak.
4) Despite his struggles, Schneider and the Devils have won four straight games against the Canucks. His six career games against his former team, Schneider has three wins, one regulation loss, and a .925 save percentage.
5) It will sound redundant, but the Canucks need to shoot the puck early and often tonight. They need to test this beat-up Devils defence, who is playing their third game in four nights. The Canucks are playing on two days rest and should attack early on in this contest. The Canucks are currently the worst first-period team in the league, something that needs to change.