The NHL is host to six games on Sunday night. After a busy Saturday night, the NHL will calm down a little bit to end the weekend. One of the games set for January 13 is between the Florida Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. Neither team has been off to a great start this season and will look to get a solid victory on Sunday night. The game is set to start at 7:00 PM Eastern time.
Florida has started this season with a record of 17-18-8, which has them in sixth place of the Atlantic Division. The Panthers have struggled recently, losing five games in a row. This will be Florida’s third game in four nights, which could lead to a little fatigue for the Panthers. Florida will look to bounce back with a victory on the road against Vancouver on Sunday night.
The Canucks have gone 20-21-5 to open up the season. Vancouver is currently sitting in fifth place of the Pacific Division. The Canucks have lost three games in a row and four of their last five games. Vancouver has had two days rest since their last game, which could give them an edge over Florida, who could be skating with some tired legs on Sunday night.
Sunday night’s matchup between the Panthers and the Canucks will be the second and final matchup of the season series this season. Florida and Vancouver have both been a little under an even record, but could get to an even record with a win on Sunday night. Neither team is in the playoff picture right now, but they are both within striking distance to sneak in this second half of the season.
Last season, the Panthers and the Canucks met up twice in the season series. Florida took the first game at home by a score of 3-1. The Panthers took the second game on the road by a score of 4-3. Florida and Vancouver missed the playoffs, but the Panthers were a more competitive team last season. The Canucks have been off to a stronger start this season, which could lead to a tighter contest.
Florida hosted the first matchup of this season’s series on October 13. Vincent Trocheck had a goal and an assist, while Jonathan Huberdeau added another goal for the Panthers. Sven Baertschi had two assists and Bo Horvat had the lone goal in the third period to give the Canucks the win. Anders Nilsson had 24 saves on 26 shots for Vancouver. The Canucks were able to pull off a 3-2 win on the road.
The Panthers took both games of last season’s series, but Vancouver was able to earn a win in the first game of this season’s series. Both teams are sitting with similar records, which makes me believe that it could be a close game on Sunday night. The first matchup of this season’s series was close all game and I believe that Canucks fans can expect a similar matchup on their home ice on Sunday night.
The Panthers have been hit decently hard with injuries this season. Florida is without Derek MacKenzie, Jamie McGinn and Vincent Trocheck on Sunday night. The Panthers are also likely without Nick Bjugstad for their matchup against the Canucks. Florida is missing a couple top six forwards and some solid depth forwards right now, which has hurt their offensive production.
Vancouver has had injury strike one of the leading rookies this season in Elias Pettersson. The Canucks are also missing forward. Josh Leivo. Leivo is a solid depth player, but Pettersson has been arguably Vancouver’s best player so far this season. His absence has been a large reason for the Canucks recent struggles.
Elias Pettersson has scored 22 goals and 20 assists in his 38 games played this season. Pettersson is the best player that will be missing from Sunday night’s game. Vincent Trocheck had 14 points in his 18 appearances this season. He has also been missed from the Panthers roster this season and they will hope he returns soon.
I expect Roberto Luongo to start in net for Florida on Sunday night. Luongo has put up a record of 8-10-1 in his games played this season. He has put up a save percentage of .891 and a 3.36 GAA this season. This has been one of Luongo more poor seasons and it starting to raise the question if he has run out of gas in the tank. He will look to improve those numbers on Sunday night.
I believe Thatcher Demko will make his second career start against the Panthers on Sunday. Demko allowed four goals on 30 shots in his first career game last season. He has been doing solid in the AHL this season and he will look to prove that he is ready for the NHL with a solid performance.
Demko is unproven, but he is going up against a struggling Roberto Luongo. Demko has been a very solid prospect since he was drafted. He has been known for his athleticism and quickness in net. His first attempt at an NHL run wasn’t great and he will look to start stronger this time with a win against the Panthers on Sunday night.
The Canucks and the Panthers have both been struggling coming into Sunday night’s matchup. Both teams have been hit by injuries recently and it will factor into Sunday night’s game. I believe that Demko puts up a strong performance as he tries to prove he is ready for the NHL. I think this will lead to Vancouver sweeping the season series with a home victory.
Florida is listed as a -107 against the money line on Sunday night. I believe that the Canucks should be favored since they are at home. Although Vancouver is not a large underdog, there is value for the Canucks in this matchup. Both teams are on a losing streak, but Vancouver will have home ice advantage to try and end their losing streak. I believe that this gives them a necessary edge to give them the win.