Tonight is a very special night. Tonight marks the start of a two-week break of CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. There will be none next week, or the week after. From hereon in, if you crave hockey, you still watch CBC, all day every day. The next hockey game on CBC will be on Thursday but it comes from Sochi, Russia, rather than North America.
Tonight however the Vancouver Canucks bring a six-game losing streak into Toronto to face the scorching hot Maple Leafs. Good luck Canucks.
CANUCKS (27-23-9) at MAPLE LEAFS (31-22-6)
Last 10: Vancouver 3-7-0; Toronto 7-2-1
SEASON SERIES: This is the second and final game between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Roberto Luongo stopped all 21 shots he faced when the Canucks blanked the Maple Leafs 4-0 at Rogers Arena on Nov. 2. It was also the night that David Bolland suffered what was probably the first of a massive string of injuries that the Blue and White have suffered this season.
Vancouver has won 11 in a row against Toronto; the Maple Leafs’ last victory against the Canucks came on Nov. 24, 2003.
HENRIK IS OUT
This time, the Leafs will not have to worry about one half of the Sedin sisters as Henrik is back on the shelf with a lingering rib injury, he is one of four NHLers who have said they will not be taking part in the Sochi Olympics.
The Leafers of course are on a roll, despite a setback on Tuesday in Sunrise, they are on a roll, tied with Montreal for third spot in the NHL Atlantic, thanks to a win over Tampa on Thursday, they only trail Tampa by one point for second place. And things get even more interesting with Montreal playing Carolina in a couple hours today and the Lightning bolts play the Red Wings today as well. With a Habs loss and Red Wing win, Leafs take possession of second place and would trail only Boston.
The standings won’t change for a whole 17 days Leaf fans.
Supposedly Jonathan Bernier will get the start in goal. Again.
Toronto will play the bulk of its games after the break on the road. The Maple Leafs have only nine post-Olympic games at Air Canada Centre, where they are 20-10-1 and have the third-most home wins in the Eastern Conference.
WHO’S HOT: Canucks defenseman Raphael Diaz has a goal and an assist in his first two games since being acquired from the Canadiens. … Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak has three goals in the past four games. Bernier has the seventh-best save percentage in the League at .926.
INJURY REPORT: In addition to Sedin, out of the lineup for Vancouver are defensemen Andrew Alberts (concussion), Christopher Tanev (hand), Kevin Bieksa (foot) and Yannick Weber (upper body) and forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder). Defenseman Dan Hamhuis (undisclosed) will return after missing two games. Toronto forwards Dave Bolland(ankle), Trevor Smith (hand) and Carter Ashton (hand) are on injured reserve.