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Game 28 Preview: Avalanche at Canucks

The Avalanche head to Vancouver to visit a former division rival as they finish off their three game Canadian road-trip.

Rich Lam

The Avalanche travel to Vancouver where they will finish their three game Canadian road-trip with an early evening matchup against the Vancouver Canucks. This will be the first of three match-ups between the Avalanche (20-7-0) and Canucks (16-10-5) this year, two of which will take place on Vancouver ice. The Avalanche have come flying out of the gate in the first third of this season to establish one of the best starts in franchise history and although they've outplayed Vancouver to this point on the year, the Avalanche always seem to struggle against the Canucks. The Avs were 1-3 against the Canucks last season and it doesnt get prettier if you look back further than that. The Canucks games were, in my opinion, some of the worst games of Joe Sacco's career, and I never believed for a second that we could beat those damn creepy Sedin twins in those seasons. Tonight will be an interesting look into some of the ways things have changed for this team under Patrick Roy and hopefully, mark an end to Vancouver's Colorado dominance.

On the other side, the Canucks have been something of a disappointment to many Vancouver-ites this season. It's not as though the team has played badly, they're 16-10-5 and sit in 9th place in the West (tied with 8th place Phoenix with 37 points), it's just that the Canucks have lagged behind the Blackhawks, Ducks, Kings, Sharks and Blues whom they normally battle for the conference's top spot. As usual, the Canucks are getting a lot of thier offense from their big three: the Sedin twins have a combined 18 goals and 57 points and Kesler has 14 goals on his own. After that, this Vancouver team loses a lot of its offensive bite, although Garrison does have an impressive 4 goals and 18 points from the blueline so far this season.

Projected Lines: Vancouver The Bad Guys

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - David Booth

Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Mike Santorelli

Jannik Hansen - Brad Richardson - Dale Weise

Tom Sestito - Zac Dalpe - Zack Kassian

Dan Hamhuis - Jason Garrison

Kevin Bieksa - Chris Tanev

Andrew Alberts - Ryan Stanton

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Projected Lines: Colorado The Good Guys

Ryan O`Reilly - Paul Stastny - P.A. Parenteau

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Nathan MacKinnon

Jamie McGinn - John Mitchell - Max Talbot

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Nate Guenin - Erik Johnson

Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich

Tyson Barrie - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

J.S. Giguere

Quick Hits:

- Matt Duchene has 11 shots in his last three games but no goals and just one point to show for it. The Avalanche center has seen his shooting percentage drop from 25% to 15% so..... that means its time to start scoring again right? #Statistics

- Nathan MacKinnon on the other hand, has goals in three of his last four games and somehow he's still shooting at just 7.9%

- Cliche, Guenin and Barrie will be the only Avs in action who have not scored a goal this season (Wilson, Hunwick and Malone are also goal-less)

- MacKinnon, O'Reilly, Duchene and Landeskog all have more than 75 shots this season. Next on the list are Parenteau and Stastny, who are tied at 48 shots a piece. Landeskog's 79 shots is good for 56th in the NHL and Alex Ovechkin leads the NHL with an absolutely absurd 146 shots on goal. Ovechkin ALSO leads the NHL in missed shots, with another 72. That's 218 shots towards the net. Dumb.

- There's been a lot to praise in Ryan O'Reilly's move to the wing, but one thing we haven't talked about much this season is O'Reilly's takeaway numbers. You'll recall that in past seasons, O'Reilly has been near the top of the NHL in takeaways and has held one of the best takeaway/giveaway margins in the NHL. Despite the move from center ice, O'Reilly seems intent on keeping that trend up: he currently ranks 5th in the NHL with 32. Pavel Datsyuk leads the league with 40.

- The Avalanche's success on the road this season (10-3-0) comes in no small part thanks to Landeskog and MacKinnon, who have 13 and 10 points respectively on the road this season.

Puck Drop at 8:00 PM EST 6:00 PM MST