No Lotto luck, no problem! The Sabres kept the Canucks All Star Game bound trio off the scoreboard, and still lost. Sam Lafferty FTW, bitches! So after a grueling, playoff-style win the Canucks managed to get to Columbus to take on the lowly Blue Jackets in an early game to end this road swing.
CANUCKS (29-11-3) at BUFFALO SABRES (13-21-9)
NATIONWIDE ARENA, COLUMBUS, OH
10:00 AM PST
To say this road trip's been a success is a massive understatement. After a frustratingly close loss in St Louis, the Canucks ran roughshod over some of the best in East, each one more impressive than the last, wrapping it up with a gritty 1-0 win in balmy Buffalo Saturday afternoon.
After the loss in St Louis, as we've seen all season from Rick Tocchet and his staff, they set out to make a few tweaks to address what didn't work in the previous game. So after a rare lack of offensive output against the Blues, Tocchet reunited the Lotto Line and they absolutely dominated the Devils, Rangers, Islanders and Penguins. 27 combined points, led by Elias Pettersson who set an NHL record with 4 consecutive game winning goals on the road.
Each game showcased some of the different facets of the Canucks new era, and in a way, the win over Buffalo Saturday was as impressive as the wins over the Rangers and Penguins.
While playoff hockey is but a dream for the Canucks expansion cousins, the game had all the feeling of a meaningful post-season battle. Two goaltenders stopping anything thrown their way. hits that had a little more oompf to them than your usual January afternoon contest, and so much downright feeling and emotion, something we've not seen in years.
And from the way J.T. Miller laid out a tough (but legal) hit, then answered the bell twice for it, to the composure the Canucks showed when the Sabres relentlessly targeted Pettersson and Quinn Hughes while the officials flat out refused to get involved. It would have been easy to give the Sabres what they wanted (and get suckered into even more penalties in the process), but the Canucks stayed composed, killed off the penalties, and got another stellar performance from Thatcher Demko for their 5th straight road win.
And that leads us to today's game. And while common sense tells us this should be an fairly simple two points, given how not so good the Blue Jackets are, and all the injuries to some of their best players they're dealing with, it has all the makings of one of those trap games that we've seen bite the Canucks on the ass over the years.
Fortunately, we've seen few examples of not taking an opponent seriously this season, save for that one loss to the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks taking a night off just isn't really a thing with Rick Tocchet, and that's one of the reasons they're sitting atop the NHL standings at the moment. Would you risk mailing it in with Rick Tocchet watching you?
And it plays right into the Canucks mindset under Tocchet: They haven't won anything yet, so no one should be surprised if they lay a beating on the BJ's on this American holiday Monday. The Canucks are for real, and here's something people need to wrap their heads around: They haven't even played their best hockey this season. There's something happening in Vancouver that no one saw coming, at least not this early, but if you're not on board to just have some fun, and see where this goes, you should be. It's amazing to have not just fun, entertaining hockey to watch again, but a team that doesn't stress us out as we watch talented players wasting years of their prime with no help. There's hope again, and damn is it good to feel this way again.
Scrawled in nacho cheese sauce along the side of that god-forsaken cannon was this potential lineup. It was also reportedly found on nhl dot com...
Canucks projected lineup
Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser
Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko
Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland
Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty
Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek
Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers
Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole
Scratched: Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson, Noah Juulsen
Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Blue Jackets projected lineup
Johnny Gaudreau -- Cole Sillinger -- Yegor Chinakhov
Kent Johnson -- Adam Fantilli -- Emil Bemstrom
Dimitri Voronkov -- Jack Roslovic -- Kirill Marchenko
Alexandre Texier -- Sean Kuraly -- Justin Danforth
Damon Severson -- Adam Boqvist
Ivan Provorov -- Andrew Peeke
Jake Bean -- Erik Gudbranson
Scratched: David Jiricek, Mathieu Olivier, Daniil Tarasov, Brendan Gaunce
Injured: Boone Jenner (jaw), Patrik Laine (clavicle), Nick Blankenburg (upper body), Zach Werenski (ankle)
It would appear that the Jackets aren't going to try and go for the feel-good story and start former Canucks Spencer Martin and Brendan Gaunce. They will have Erik Gudbranson though, so uh, yeah. They will want to make sure that 2nd line with Lower Mainland native Kent Johnson and 2nd overall pick from last year's draft Adam Fantilli don't get the time and space needed to create havoc.
It looked like Casey DeSmith was going to get the start on Saturday, which instead went to Demko as we know. Now they're showing Demko as the starter today so who knows? No other changes as the Canucks look to notch a season high sixth straight win.
GAME DAY CHATTER
These are the kinds of hardships that will make them battle ready for the postseason...
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
This past weekend was a massive one for Vancouver metalheads as 3 Inches of Blood reunited to play three sold out shows at the Commodore Ballroom. One of the best metal acts this country's ever produced, and it sucked that I couldn't be there to see them live one last time. Still holding out hope this'll spark the desire for a new album though. There's a full video of night one on youtube, but we'll give you 'Deadly Sinners', a hell of a pump up tune to get you ready for today's game.
Enjoy this daytime hockey if you can, everyone! Go Canucks Go!