By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
With March underway and the NHL approaching the halfway point in the 2013 season, here’s a look at the top games to watch this month.
Canucks vs. Detroit Red Wings, Saturday March 16, 7 p.m., CBC.
The fast-paced, puck-possessive team that the Canucks have been modeling for the past several years comes to town in a Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night brawl. The Detroit Red Wings humiliated the Canucks in an 8–3 game on February 24 that spiralled out of control, leaving goaltender Roberto Luongo looking like a minor league call up that forgot how to stop a puck. Look for the Canucks to be hungry for vengeance in a game which will feature their new vintage alternate third jersey—a replica sweater of the former Vancouver Millionaires which played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1912 to 1922. Captain Henrik Zetterberg leads the Red Wings with 25 points in 21 games followed by flashy superstar Pavel Datsyuk who has 22 points while rookie sensation Damien Brunner leads the team with 10 goals on the year and a total of 16 points. Defencemen Niklas Kronwall leads the league in points among defensemen with 17. The Red Wings are sitting in third place in the Western Conference with a 10–8–3 record and 23 points in 21 games.
Canucks vs. LA Kings, Saturday March 23, 1 p.m., Sportsnet.
The LA Kings have been lately, winning their past five consecutive games after a horrible 5–6–2 start to the regular season. Anze Kopitar leads the team in points with 17 while Jeff Carter leads the team with 11 goals on the year. Goaltender Jonathan Quick has not been nearly as strong as he was last year between the pipes with a 6–6–2 record, a .901 Save Percentage and a 2.54 Goals Against Average compared to his .929 SV%, and 1.95 GAA last season. Backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier has been the stronger of the two, posting a .931 SV%, a 1.64 GAA, and a 4–1 record in the five games that he’s started thus far. After a first-round exit to the Kings last year—who finished eighth in the Western Conference—and a 3–2 shootout loss in their first meeting this season in January, the Canucks will have the Kings’ crown in their sights.
Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers, Saturday March 30, 7 p.m., CBC
The ever-so talented Edmonton Oilers are a thrill to watch, regardless of what team they’re playing. With Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov, and Justin Schultz, they’re looking more and more like the Edmonton Oilers from back in the ‘80s when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, and Glenn Anderson dominated the league. It’s about time these young players find their groove and become a dominant force in the league.
Gagner leads the team with 19 points while the Oilers sit in 12th position in the Western Conference with a 8–8–4 record and 20 points in 19 games. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been solid in net, despite the team’s performance, with a 2.75 GAA and a .917 SV% in the 15 games that he’s started. The season series between the Canucks and Oilers is split in half as Edmonton took the first game in a 3–2 bout in January while Vancouver won in overtime on February 4th.
Image by by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Vancouver Canucks