Tonight is the fourth and final regular season game between the Wings and Canucks. Vancouver leads the series 2-1, with wins October 10th (4-2
: the Wings' first loss of the season) and November 13th, 4-1 in Vancouver. The Wings won the January 26th game(2-1
), however, and can finish with a 2-2 tie if they win tonight.
The Wings' win last night in Edmonton was their first in Western Canada all season. Another win tonight is important since the Canucks are a possible first round opponent and the Wings are going to need to get used to winning games in Alberta and British Columbia if they want to accomplish anything in the post-season.
Chris Osgood would be the usual starter in the second game of a back-to-back series but Babcock may just go with Legace again in order to get him on a roll.
The Canucks have struggled lately, with a five-game losing streak that was only stopped by a 3-2 win in Columbus on Friday. They will be hungry for a win tonight, especially given the chance to surpass the Oilers after the Wings' win last night in Edmonton. They could use the momentum going into their three-game mini-series with the Oilers this week, a series that has huge implications for playoff seeding.
I expect Alexander Auld to be in net for Vancouver.
The Wings just need to keep their focus tonight and be ready to face a heavy onslaught from the Canucks, who will come out flying. Their focus ought to be more defensive with a balance of offensive opportunism. Again, they need to show they can win in Western Canada before we can entertain any thoughts about a long playoff run. Tonight is a good opportunity, being about the closest thing to the playoffs the regular season can provide.