In the midst of a rollercoaster season, the Vancouver Canucks look to stay on the rise when they open a two-game series at home against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.
Vancouver is coming off a 5-1 road win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, its third solid performance in a row during a 2-0-1 stretch. The Canucks are two points behind the Jets who are in fourth place in the North Division, although Winnipeg has four games on hand in Vancouver.
The Canucks haven’t enjoyed much consistency this season. A 1-5-0 streak was followed by four straight wins, and Vancouver then lost six straight games before its current three-game streak.
Forward Bo Horvat is hopeful that Wednesday’s win over the Flames is another sign that the Canucks are on track.
“We just want to keep building on that,” Horvat said. “We don’t want our highs to be too high and our lows too low … It definitely gives our group confidence, but we have to do that every night. We still have a lot of hockey left. I have a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do. “.
Brock Boeser recorded one goal and two assists for his third three-point game of the season. Boeser has 21 points (12 goals, nine assists) in 20 games.
Braden Holtby stopped 35 of Calgary’s 36 shots, ending a losing streak in which the goalkeeper posted a 0-3-0 record and a .844 save percentage in his previous three outings. Since Thatcher Demko has also been struggling, the Canucks could choose to play the hot hand and start Holtby again on Friday.
After surrendering 60 goals in their first 15 games, the Canucks have conceded just 12 goals in their last five games. Much of that improvement has come from both kills and fewer penalties overall – Vancouver is 13 of 14 on penalties in those five games.
The penalties were a big part of the Jets’ 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. The two teams combined for 32 penalty minutes and 11 power plays, which left the Jets unable to gain much momentum after allowing two goals in the first five minutes.
Despite the “choppy” flow of play and the “two pretty big mistakes” early on, Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice felt the game could have gone either way.
“You come off the bench in a bad mood every time you lose a game, but it was not a missed opportunity. We played hard, they played hard,” Maurice said.
Mark Scheifele has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) over the course of an eight-game streak.
The Jets are 2-3-0 in their last five games.
Connor Hellebuyck saved 27 of 30 shots against the Oilers. Hellebuyck has started 13 of Winnipeg’s 16 games this season and will likely make his seventh consecutive start on Friday, unless Maurice wants to give reserve Laurent Brossoit his first action since Feb. 2.
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nate Thompson (lower body injuries) are questionable for Friday. Both players are on the Jets’ injured reserve list but have been participating in practice.
The Canucks beat the Jets 4-1 in Winnipeg on January 30, the only other meeting of the season between the two rivals. It was just Vancouver’s second win in 16 games (2-14-0) against the Jets dating back to the 2014-15 season.
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.