Hockey Night in Canada
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Vancouver Canucks @ Toronto Maples Leafs
After starting the season on a good note, the Canucks can’t find a way to win hockey games since the month of November. The only bright spot in the team’s season is definitely rookie sensation, Brock Boeser. With 38 points in 37 games, including 21 goals, Boeser is in the Calder trophy discussion at the midway mark. Vancouver is also dealing with key injuries to its core players, like Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi. Still, the Canucks’ PWP is hanging in the top 10 around the league, thanks to Vanek, Boeser and the Sedins. It’s another story on the PK, where the Canucks can’t seem to get on the same page. Discipline will be key for the visitors as they will face a Maple Leafs squad who’s cruising right now, with the top of the Atlantic division in sight. D-Zone assignment and line matchups will be key for the Canucks if they want to stay in the game. Let’s just hope that Jacob Markstrom can steal this one…
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are starting to look like a Cup contender. If Fred Andersen keeps playing like he is, the Buds have strong chances to at least the Conference Finals this season. Mike Babcock’s system looks understood by his squad and everybody is on the same page. Vancouver shouldn’t be a menace for the Leafs at home, but the Canucks’ PWP is 10th in the NHL and could do some damage. Toronto shouldn’t overthink that one and bring the game to Vancouver. If the Leafs can control, the neutral zone and gain Vancouver’s end, it will be a walk in the park for them. Leafs win this one, easily.
Anaheim Ducks @ Calgary Flames
The Anaheim Ducks are a mystery this season. It seems like every time they take flight, they lose all momentum to a lesser team. They have all the tools for the playoffs, but they need to reach them to make another run for the Stanley Cup. The team was shaken after the Henrique-Vatanen trade and things are looking up. It will be a great game to watch on Saturday with two teams that are quite similar. Big, fast with sound goaltending. It will be interesting to see if things will get physical between these teams. After losing in a shootout against the Edmonton Oilers, I think the Ducks drop this one in extra time as well.
The Flames are starting to build a nice little streak, after winning their second game in a row when they defeated the Kings at the Saddledome. They need to improve at home where they play for .500. In their quest for a playoff spot, they need all the points they can get in front of their fans. With Anaheim in town, it will be another difficult game for the Flames. It is the perfect timing to face division rivals, to determine if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. The Flames will keep rolling and win this one in extra-time.