Five things to watch: Can the Vancouver Canucks keep sizzling?

Bryan Mcwilliam
Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks

It’s a slow night in the NHL with only two games on the docket, but that doesn’t stop us from giving you our five things to watch for the night.

Can Vancouver keep sizzling?
The Canucks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, winning eight of their last ten games, including a big victory over the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. After falling down by two goals, the Canucks came roaring back to take the win 3-2. Vancouver has received fantastic goaltending from the combination of Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, the Sedin brothers are playing like they’re expected to and Ryan Kesler is back on track after an injury-shortened 2012. He currently leads the team in goals with 15. Vancouver is making up ground on San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim in the Pacific Division race, but those are also three of the best teams in hockey, so the Canucks will need to keep up their torrid pace if they want to win a division title.

Will the Rangers win at home?
The New York Rangers are playing terrible hockey and they’re doing it on their home turf. The Blueshirts are in the midst of a nine-game homestand and currently sport an awful record of 1-4-2 during the stretch. The Minnesota Wild come to town after a painful 5-2 loss to the Penguins, so maybe the Rangers have a shot at improving their record tonight, because hockey fans in the ‘Big Apple’ won’t except this kind of play for too much longer.

Repercussions of the stinkeye
It was not a good night for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer at the Air Canada Centre. He allowed three goals on 12 shots to a Detroit team that was missing a number of key players in their line-up and was yanked during the first intermission. The goalie decided the best approach to the pull was to give his coach Randy Carlyle a nasty stare from the bench while shaking his head in disapproval. The Leafs turned things around with Reimer on the bench and almost pulled out a victory, leaving the netminder to wonder if he’ll get the starting nod for the Winter Classic in ten days. Knowing Carlyle, the Winnipeg, Man. native will be riding the pine for a lot more than that in the coming weeks.

Hometown return
The Winnipeg Jets fly into Vancouver to do battle with the Canucks tonight at 8 p.m. EST. The game is a homecoming for Vancouver native and Jets’ forward Evander Kane. It will be the left winger’s first appearance in his hometown since March of 2012, so he’ll want to impress. Kane is currently tied for third on the team in goals with nine and hopes he can help his squad stay out of the basement in a tough Central Division.

Wild goaltending
Josh Harding has been the biggest surprise of the season thus far, putting up outstanding numbers for the Wild between the pipes. His 18-5-3 record is almost as ridiculous as his 1.51 goals against average and all of this from a guy with multiple sclerosis. Alas, the Wild will be without their top netminder tonight in New York as he adjusts to medication that aids him with his MS. He is not set to return to the line-up until Dec. 27 in Winnipeg. The loss is a big one, considering Niklas Backstrom didn’t look so hot last Thursday, allowing five goals to Pittsburgh.