Vancouver Sun

KEYS TO THE GAME

- jbotch­ford@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/ botch­ford College Sports · Utica Comets · Tampa Bay Lightning · Tampa · National Hockey League · Sports · Darren Archibald · Steven Stamkos · Nikita Kucherov · Brandon Sutter

1. Archibald’s ar­rival

Dar­ren Archibald’s sign­ing and re­call from the Utica Comets is im­por­tant for a cou­ple of rea­sons. One, the Canucks didn’t trade for a Derek Dorsett type, they signed the guy they had in the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Two, the team is soft. And it’s been in need of a player who can phys­i­cally have an im­pact.

2. Vanek with the Sedins

Asked who has looked the best with the Sedins, head coach Travis Green didn’t have an an­swer. He’s cy­cled through mul­ti­ple wingers and none have had sus­tained suc­cess. The Sedins have had a lot of even­strength pos­ses­sion, but not a lot of even-strength goals. They could use a fin­isher. Maybe Thomas Vanek will be on his game.

3. Sut­ter as­sign­ment

The Light­ning will get last change, so Tampa may look to pit its top line against the Canucks’, which is cur­rently cen­tred by Bo Hor­vat. With Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov on the same line, you know ex­actly what Green wants to do. He wants Brandon Sut­ter on the ice as much as pos­si­ble against them.

4. Canucks de­fence

They signed Michael Del Zotto and traded for Der­rick Pouliot, but this de­fence is worse than last year’s. And that’s with one of Alex Edler’s best sea­sons in some time. A healthy Erik Gud­bran­son hasn’t helped. Nei­ther has Ben Hut­ton.

5. Goalie bat­tle

No one is go­ing to be sur­prised if Ja­cob Mark­strom gets another start. Since Dec. 28, two goalies have started more games. Mark­strom has a .913 save per­cent­age in that span, which is good for him. Un­for­tu­nately, it ranks 39th in the NHL over that time frame.

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