Canucks-Red Wings Preview

The Vancouver Canucks have been competitive during a daunting

first week of the season. However, that’s not enough to satisfy a

team that is determined to make a return trip to the Stanley Cup

finals.

After falling short in their last contest, the Canucks face

another stiff challenge when they continue their four-game trip

Thursday night against the unbeaten Detroit Red Wings.

It’s been anything but easy for the reigning Western Conference

champion Canucks (1-1-1), who have played three straight one-goal

games. Vancouver opened with a 4-3 shootout home loss to Pittsburgh

last Thursday then won 3-2 at Columbus on Monday.

The Canucks fought back from an early two-goal deficit to tie

Philadelphia in the third period Wednesday before falling 5-4 to

one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Despite its subpar start, Vancouver has played like a club that

remains one of the favorites to reach the Cup finals for the second

straight season. However, the Canucks believe they have yet to put

forth a complete effort.

“We want to be playing our best game right now, we’re not happy

with the way things are going,” defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “We

are good enough to play a full 60 minutes. We are not doing that.

When we do play, you see what happens out there.”

The challenge only gets tougher Thursday against Detroit

(2-0-0), a perennial Cup contender which has scored eight goals in

its first two games. Though the teams split their four meetings in

2010-11, the Canucks earned a point in each contest. The final

three were decided by one goal, with one ending in overtime and

another in a shootout.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who combined for six goals and seven

assists versus Detroit last season, each had a goal with an assist

Wednesday. The twins have five points apiece through the first

three games.

Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots against the Flyers. He posted a

2.66 goals-against average in four games versus the Red Wings last

season.

Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk, who has six goals with nine

assists in his last 15 games against Vancouver, recorded one of

each in a 3-0 win at Colorado on Saturday.

The Red Wings are looking to start 3-0 for the first since

2005-06, Mike Babcock’s first season as coach.

“We think that we have a good team,” center Henrik Zetterberg

told the Red Wings’ official website. “We know that we’ll be there

again in the end, and that’s our goal. We really think that we can

do it.”

Zetterberg, who scored his first goal Saturday, had two with

three assists against the Canucks in 2010-11.

Ty Conklin made 29 saves against the Avalanche in the first

start of his second stint with the Red Wings, but starter Jimmy

Howard could be back in net after he stopped 29 shots in a 5-3

season-opening win over Ottawa on Friday.

Howard started all four games versus Vancouver last season,

posting a 3.17 GAA.

Conklin, who went 25-11-2 with a 2.51 GAA for Detroit in

2008-09, has allowed three goals in each of his last two starts –

both losses – against the Canucks.