The Vancouver Canucks set their 14-4-1 home record aside for the next two weeks as they set off on a seven-game road trip beginning on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.
Thursday’s game will be the second matchup of the season between the Canucks and the Blues. The Canucks came out victorious in commanding fashion with a 5-0 home win on October 27th. In that lopsided win, Quinn Hughes scored the first two goals of the game and we saw goals from Phil Di Giuseppe, J.T. Miller, and Ilya Mikheyev. Thatcher Demko made 22 saves and the Canucks rode off with a clean sheet.
Fast-forward to the present day and the Blues now hold an 18-17-1 record and have moved on from head coach Craig Berube. Drew Bannister is the new bench boss and he’s held a 5-3-0 record since taking over on December 14th, 2023.
Robert Thomas is the man to watch from the Blues, he’s 11 points clear as the leading point-getter. Thomas has picked up 15 goals and added 24 assists for 39 points in 36 games this season. Thomas is joined by Pavel Buchnevich (12g-16a-28p) and Jordan Kyrou (9g-17a-26p) on the Blues’ top line and all three of them will see power play time together on the first unit.
Thomas has been the hottest Blue since the coaching change. He’s picked up five goals and seven assists for 12 points over the last eight games. The Blues’ entire top line has been great since the coaching change and has been on the ice for seven goals scored and just four goals against since Bannister took over.
Colton Parayko leads the way in ice time – averaging 23:37 per game. He’s also contributed offensively, picking up six goals and adding five assists. Parayko has been paired up with veteran Nick Leddy this season. The Blues top pairing has played nearly 600 minutes together this season and has been on the ice for 20 goals scored and 26 goals against – that’s a 43.48% control of the goal share.
The Blues lead the NHL in shorthanded goals scored. Buchnevich and big Alexey Toropchenko (6’6” – 222 lbs) each have a pair of shorties this season. Though the Blues are top of the league for shorthanded goals scored, their penalty kill as a whole has been up and down this season. They’ve given up multiple power play goals three times this season and currently sit 20th in the league with a 79.4% conversion rate on their penalty kills.
Quick Hits on the Competition:
- The Blues are currently on a two-game losing streak. They fell to the Colorado Avalanche by a 2-1 count on Friday, December 29th and then lost 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, December 30th.
- Thursday’s game will be the Blues first game of 2024.
- Jordan Binnington has been the go-to goaltender all season long. Binnington has started two-thirds of the Blues’ 36 games this season and holds a .900% save percentage along with his 3.23 goals-against average and one shutout on the season.
- Buchnevich is the Blues’ best weapon on the power play, he’s scored four goals with the man advantage this season.
- Jake Neighbours represents the young talent having success. The 21-year-old first-rounder in 2020 has scored 12 goals this season and averages 14:33 in ice time per game.
Thursday sees the Canucks kick off their last long road trip of the season. They will have a five-game trip at the beginning of February and a pair of three-game trips later in the year. This seven-game voyage will set the Canucks up nicely to have a home-heavy schedule to finish the season. When the Canucks return to Vancouver after this trip, they will have 22 home and 16 road games remaining in the 2023-24 season.
The Canucks have one back-to-back on this road trip but there won’t be travel as they are facing the New York Rangers on January 8th and the New York Islanders on January 9th.
Over their last 11 games, the Canucks hold an 8-1-2 record and have outscored their opponents 41-26 over the winning stretch. Thirty-four of their 41 goals have come at five-on-five in their last 11 games and the team has only allowed 17 goals at five-on-five during the 8-1-2 run.
Dakota Joshua’s offensive hot streak has been duly noted throughout our recent game previews but his defensive game has also been impressive this season. Joshua now finds himself in the top-five for preventing goals of players who have played over 300 minutes at five-on-five this season. Joshua has only been on the ice for eight five-on-five goals against through 36 games.
With nine goals of his own on the year, he’s scored more by himself than he’s been on the ice for goals against. Joshua is the only player in the league who can say that.
Canucks Top Performers over the Last Five:
Quinn Hughes: 1g-6a-7p
Pius Suter: 4g-2a-6p
Elias Pettersson: 3g-3a-6p
Teddy Blueger: 2g-4a-6p
J.T. Miller: 1g-4a-5p
Note the 5:00 pm PT start time on Thursday. The Canucks will be moving around the clock throughout this road trip. You can watch the game on Sportsnet and listen to the radio broadcast on Sportsnet 650.