Anaheim Ducks (-109) at Vancouver Canucks (-101, 5.5 o/u)
The top team in the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks (42-18-7, 91 pts), head to Vancouver tonight for a clash with the division rival Canucks (37-24-4, 78 pts) at Rogers Arena (10:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Canucks are actually Anaheim’s closest competitor in the Pacific, despite sitting 13 points back of the still mighty Ducks. Though Vancouver is a solid 6-3-1 in its last ten, there is ample reason for concern in Vancouver. Starting goalie Ryan Miller remains sidelined and backup Eddie Lack has been inconsistent in his place; Lack gave up five goals in back-to-back starts to end a recent road trip. However, he bounced back in his last two starts, giving up just four goals on 75 shots.
Lack was particularly impressive in Vancouver’s last game, a pivotal road tilt with the hard-charging San Jose Sharks. Despite getting outshot 40-34, Vancouver emerged with a 3-2 win on the strength of 38 saves from the Swedish netminder.
Even though his squad fell behind 2-0 early, coach Willie Desjardins was pleased with his team’s overall effort.
“I just know that playoffs are on the line, and it doesn’t matter who we play … We have to play like this every night, and if we do we’ll get some wins and if we don’t we won’t,” said Dejardins.
The Canucks have 78 points and are in second place in the division, but Calgary and L.A. are both within three points and the Central Division teams have the inside track on the Western Conference Wild Card spots at the moment. With fewer than 20 games to go, every point is now pivotal for the team.
The Ducks, on the other hand, are sitting pretty on top of the Pacific Division. They are still in a battle with St. Louis and Nashville for first-place in the Western Conference – a battle they are currently winning – but the team has all but assured itself one of the top two seeds in the Conference playoffs.
The Ducks come into tonight with a similar 7-3-0 record in their last ten. However, they had a five-game win streak snapped by Pittsburgh on the weekend (5-2). Goaltender Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on just 20 shots in the loss, including three in less than ten minutes during the second period which put the game out of reach.
Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau recognizes that his squad will be facing some desperate teams in the coming days.
“The sense of urgency on every team we’re playing in the next eight games is quite amazing,” said Boudreau. “It’s not like we can throw our sticks and sweaters on the ice and think they’re going to bow down.”
One Duck who won’t lack for motivation tonight is former Canuck Ryan Kesler. The former Selke Trophy winner has two assists in four games against his former team this year
The Ducks are listed at -109 in the moneyline to get the win while the Canucks are -101.
Looking at the trends, Anaheim has absolutely dominated the Canucks in recent history, winning nine of the last ten meetings and outscoring Vancouver 38-13. (The last three head-to-head games have stayed under the total.) The Ducks are also 3-0-1 against Vancouver this season, but three of the four games have gone past regulation.
(Photo credit: Matt Boulton (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)