VANCOUVER CANUCKS (31-33-5) vs VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (43-21-6)
7:00 PM PST
ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC
TV: SN PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650
I know it may come across as a tad jarring, especially coming from this writer, but I think the Canucks might have suffered from poor goaltending this season. Now, that's not to say that Thatcher Demko was a beast in the games he played before getting injured, because that's easy to disprove, but Spencer Martin was really in over his head, man.
Sure, there's few goalies that could have thrived with the porous Canucks defence in front of them, but there were so many losses where they just needed a save, and didn't get one. And while Demko had a rough start, and it was likely due to playing hurt, he's almost back to a .500 record, and is sure to pass that, leaving Martin as the only goalie the Canucks played this year with a losing record. I'm not suggesting he's the only reason this has been such a brutal season, but a healthy Thatcher Demko might have had them in contention for one of the playoff spots in the West. Add in the much improved defensive play, and while I still think the sample size is small and could just as easily be similar to the Bruce Bump last season, the Canucks are a much better team at the moment than they've been this season.
And it's that impressive defensive play that has me feeling, well... positive. Yeah, it's weird, and I still can't shake the feeling it's just going to be more of the same next season, but after the way the Canucks were able to grind out a win against LA on Saturday night, heading into tonight's contest against Vegas isn't nearly as frightening as it should be. Instead of a battle between one of the best in the West against the lowly Canucks, it's two teams with 8-2-0 records in their last ten games, waiting to see who blinks first.
That's not a diss against Vegas, just a recognition of the Canucks playing better since the coaching change, and how they've fared against Western Conference opponents. Sure, Vegas begrudgingly gets credit for being as good as they are in spite of the number of injuries they've had to deal with this season, but seeing them get bounced in the first round shouldn't come as a shock to anyone when it happens.
Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what you should expect to see tonight:
Golden Knights projected lineup
Scratched: Ben Hutton
Canucks projected lineup
Looks like it's Studnicka and Burroughs out and Kravtsov and Brisebois back in tonight. Demko is the starter after a solid performance from Collin Delia on Sunday against Anaheim. THe Golden Knights choosing to start Jonathan Quick is certainly a choice, especially given the way he's played against Vancouver over the past couple years. We'll just let them figure that out for themselves, though.
GAME DAY CHATTER
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
If you're at all familiar with German metal, you know the big name bands: KREATOR, SODOM, DESTRUCTION, TANKARD, among others, but a band that dates back to the early days, and like the others is still going strong is HOLY MOSES. Featuring vocalist Sabina Klassen, who sounds as vicious as ever, they continue to produce kickass, aggressive thrash worthy of a listen. Check out 'Cult Of The Machine' from 'Invisible Queen', which hits stores in April.
Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go.