Tonight the Vancouver Canucks and the Detroit Red Wings meet up in Joe Louis Arena for a game that’s must-see TV for most hockey fans.
Take a look at how evenly matched these teams are on paper:
The Red Wings are in first place in the Western Conference with 84 points in 61 games. The Canucks are second with 82 points in 60 games.
The Red Wings sport a goal differential of +50, while the Canucks is a paltry +48.
In their last 10 games, the Red Wings are 7-2-1. The Caucks are 7-1-2 over that same span.
They’re both kinda good.
Those facts alone would be enough to get me to tune in to tonight’s game, but it goes a bit deeper than that – consider:
Roberto Luongo is actually getting the start in a big game
It’s been an odd year in Vancouver, in that it seems like every time a big game shows up on the schedule, the Canucks extremely high-paid keeper is relegated to the pine while Corey Schneider gets the nod (Chicago and Boston games come to mind).
You would think the logic would be “The more he’s exposed to the big moments, the more he’ll get used to them,” but Alain Vigneault and the rest of the Canucks brass have clearly felt differently in the past. Whether it’s that they want to save the Big Moment Stress for playoffs or they don’t think he can do it, it’s come off as a bit curious.
Well, tonight they’re throwing their big dog between the pipes against the Red Wings while Detroit is in the midst of their all-time NHL-best 23-game home winning streak, the very team they’re trying to catch in the standings. Finally, we get to see Lu under fire again.
The Red Wings are trying to extend said crazy home winning streak
Whether you want to play Debbie Downer on the Red Wings home winning streak and place an asterisk on it or not (three shootout wins!), it’s been pretty damn impressive.
The NHL likes to remind us that “History will be made,” and this year, we’re getting some of it during the regular season. Can they push it to 24 straight?
The Red Wings need home ice advantage come playoffs
This team is 15-16-1 away from Joe Louis arena. As I mentioned a few days back, you’re allowed to struggle on the road if you get four games in a seven game series at home.
Because of that, the last thing the Red Wings need is to start sliding near that “home ice or not?” bubble.
Prediction: the streak has gone on long enough, and the Red Wings can’t keep this up forever.
When you wake up tomorrow and check the standings, both teams will have 84 points.