Officially out of the playoffs, the Canucks have three games remaining at home before limping out of another wasted season with three on the road. Are you sure you can handle the excitement?
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (34-35-7) vs SEATTLE KRAKEN (42-26-8)
7:00 PM PST
ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC
TV: SN PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650
Well, at least the false sense of hope has been put to bed for another year. For the 8th time in the last 10 years, the Canucks are not a playoff team. It's gotten to the point where if you're not firmly in the fifth stage of grief with this team, you should probably ask yourself why. The fifth stage is acceptance, and I wholeheartedly accept that this team is just awful. I can live with it, because I'm too old and invested to just walk away from this godforsaken hockey club. I accept that the ownership of the Vancouver Canucks is never going to do what it will take to fix the fundamental issues facing the product on the ice, and despite having a couple of the most talented players to ever don the jersey, are not going to win a Stanley Cup during their time here without some type of seismic shift in the way this team is put together. It's heartbreaking. But I accept it.
Meanwhile, as if things needed to get worse (and as we constantly remind you, it always does), our "rivals" to the south are headed into the postseason in just their second year of existence. I suppose it would be worse if this rivalry actually meant something, because then we'd have their fans mocking us on top of how shitty we already feel about this decade of futility.
This is always the hardest part for us as people who cover the team. Trying to find ways to get you to give even the remotest shit about this team that has been one of the NHL's worst for the last 10 years and counting. I mean, sport can be such a wonderful distraction from the garbage fire that is the world we live in, but what do you do when your escape from the madness is so mentally and emotionally exhausting?
It's not like there weren't feel good moments this season. The play of Pettersson and Quinn Hughes, the two that will (hopefully) be leading this team into the future was downright inspiring. For all of the drama and angst, JT Miller and Brock Boeser still had quality seasons. And it was the new additions that might have had the biggest impact on keeping Canucks fans from completely losing it. I don't think that anyone, even the most grandiose of dreamers, saw Andrei Kuzmenko battling Pettersson for the team goal scoring lead. And the way guys like Dakota Joshua, Nils Aman, and Phillip Di Giuseppe were able to come in and make solid contributions to this team was great to see.
Goaltending was a nightmare this season, even with Thatcher Demko's solid play since returning from injury. The team leaned heavily on Spencer Martin in Demko's absence, and without a remotely competent defensive core in front of him, opposing teams feasted on Martin. With Demko healthy, and Collin Delia having put together a decent 9-4-2 record in limited usage, it may give him a shot at getting the backup nod next season, though Arturs Silovs might have something to say about that.
And with the debuts of Aiden McDonough and Akito Hirose, it points to, if the Canucks management can get the heavy lifting done, actual change of a team that's been in need of a rebuild for years now. This fan base deserves far better than what we've been given. For now though, it's the misery we've become so familiar with, that we'll soon have trouble remembering what it's like to enjoy playoff hockey. That is something I don't think any of us should have to accept.
Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what you're likely to see if you're brave/foolish enough to sit through this one:
Kraken projected lineup
Canucks projected lineup
Scratched: Vitali Kravtsov
Injured: Guillaume Brisebois (undisclosed), Filip Hronek (shoulder), Vasily Podkolzin (hand), Christian Wolanin (lower body), Noah Juulsen (lower body), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ankle), Travis Dermott (undisclosed), Ilya Mikheyev (torn ACL), Tanner Pearson (hand), Tucker Poolman (upper body)
So, let's add Guillaume Brisebois to the daunting pile of injured Canuck defencemen, shall we? It's not Montreal bad, but it's not good. On the bright side, it gives us another opportunity to see Akito Hirose, who was just fine in his NHL debut against the Kings on Sunday. Collin Delia gets the crease tonight for the Canucks, and we'll watch to see if these lines stay the same through the game, but it is nice to see Dakota Joshua's hard work this season rewarded with a spot on the Pettersson line.
GAME DAY CHATTER
I hadn't thought about it since it happened, mainly because it was a clean hit and the use of the word 'garbage' here is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Hey, if that's what it takes to get a rivalry going with the Canucks, fill your boots, but the Kraken don't strike me as a physically intimidating team anymore than the Canucks do.
Also, just a little note: After years of futility, yours truly emerged as the Nucks Misconduct Reloaded Hockey Pool Champion. Considering I had Spencer Martin on my roster, I am as surprised as you are.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
From their outstanding and sadly, final release 'Innocents', this is 'Hank Crane' by ONLY LIVING WITNESS.
Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go.