Canucks Game Day: Hot hosts face 'good test' in rejuvenated Flyers
Philadelphia on the rebound after hideous start to season, with captain Claude Giroux leading the way
Claude Giroux (left) of the Philadelphia Flyers leans into Vancouver Canucks blueliner Chris Tanev during their Oct. 15 NHL game at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center — the last time these two teams met. The Flyers, who lost this game 3-2 while stumbling out of the gate in a start that cost head coach Peter Laviolette his job, have bounced back under new bench boss Craig Berube. And Giroux, who at one point went 15 games without a goal, is now on an eight-game points streak heading into Monday's rematch at Rogers Arena.
Photograph by: (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images), Canada.com
VANCOUVER — When the soaring Vancouver Canucks, 10-1-1 in the month of December, take to the ice tonight to face the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040), they should be mindful these aren't the Flyers of two months ago.
Those Flyers were in complete disarray after firing coach Peter Laviolette three games into the season and replacing him with Craig Berube, who had no NHL head coaching experience. They lost seven of their first eight, including a 3-2 decision to the Canucks in which they squandered a third-period lead.
Captain Claude Giroux was in an epic slump and went 15 games without a goal. He was minus-11 during that span. Key forwards Vincent Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell also missed time in October with injuries.
Since that hideous 1-7-0 start, the Flyers are 17-9-4. Giroux, meanwhile, has regained his scoring touch and is currently on an eight-game points streak (5-10-15). He has 35 points on the season, which is one more point than Canucks scoring leader Henrik Sedin.
The Flyers also have red-hot scorers in wingers Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek. Simmonds has six goals in his last three games while Voracek is on a nine-game points streak (6-9-15). He also seven assists in his last four games.
Berube, a one-time member of the New Westminster Bruins, is pleased with the team's turnaround.
“Yeah, I'm happy, the way things are going right now,” he said after the Flyers' morning skate. “It's become a non-thinking process out there, which is good and where the guys can just skate and play. We've become a more consistent hockey team in all areas of the game and we're trying to play mistake-free hockey.”
“We've come a long way since the start of the year,” added Giroux. “I think the guys have kind of got their stuff together and we're playing more as a team.
The chemistry is a lot better. Yeah, I think tonight's game will be a good test. Vancouver is a really good team and they've been playing really well lately. They find a way to win games.”
The Canucks do have a few things going for them. They've won three straight and six straight at home. They've shut out their opponents in three of their last eight and have allowed more than two goals just once in their last 12. They have also fared very well against Eastern Conference teams this season, going 12-4-2.
Vancouver will have one lineup change tonight as defenceman Frankie Corrado, called up this morning, replaces Andrew Alberts. The latter was injured in Sunday's 2-0 victory in Calgary when he was steamrolled by Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan. Alberts has a suspected concussion.
Corrado, 20, has five points in 29 games with the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets and is minus-2 with 20 penalty minutes and 43 shots on goal. He was the Canucks' fifth round pick in 2011 NHL entry draft.
The rest of Vancouver's lineup figures to remain intact. Head coach John Tortorella cancelled the morning skate and no Canucks were made available to reporters.
Berube is expected to throw these three lines at the Canucks: Giroux between Voracek and Michael Raffl; Brayden Schenn centring for Hartnell and Simmonds; Sean Couturier with Matt Read and Lecavalier; and Adam Hall between Zac Rinaldo and Steve Downie.
Canucks rookie Eddie Lack (7-2-0) is expected to face Steve Mason (15-9-4) in the goalie matchup.
ICE CHIPS: Injured Canucks Roberto Luongo (groin) and defenceman Alex Edler (knee) were both on the ice this morning, testing their various ailments ... The Canucks are 6-3-0 in second game of back-to-backs ... Vancouver enters the night ranked 22nd on the power play (15.2 per cent) while the Flyers are tied for 15th (18.4 per cent) ... Referees for tonight's game are Eric Furlatt and Steve Kozari.
INJURIES: The Canucks will be without G Roberto Loungo (groin), D Alex Edler (knee), D Ryan Stanton (ankle), D Andrew Alberts (suspected concussion), RW Alex Burrows (jaw) and C Jordan Schroeder (ankle) ... The Flyers will be missing D Erik Gustafsson (knee).
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