It's that time of year again, where an entire fan base is forced to consider how things affect the Leafs. It's also Hockey Day in Canada and an anniversary of sorts for Nucks Misconduct.
CANUCKS (30-11-4) at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (22-13-8)
ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC
4:00 PM PST
Truth be told, I'd be totally fine with the Oilers or Flames getting the Saturday game when the Leafs come West. Anyway, there's the prerequisite bitching, because Leafs fans will be scouring for evidence of it. Far be it from us to be less than gracious hosts.
The Canucks returned from that epic seven game road trip and got into a fun one against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The game had a lot of intensity, and for a first game back, it was a hell of a lot better than we expected. So often that first game at home is a bit of a let down, but the Canucks battled against a solid Arizona squad, addressed some serious bullshit from the Coyotes "tough guy" and came out with another regulation win against a Western Conference opponent.
And in case you missed this yesterday...
And that was for this display of sportsmanship:
Absolute chickenshittery from the NHL's penalty minute leader O'Brien. 5 ungloved punches on a guy who didn't have his hands up over a clean hit? Pure garbage. And for the on ice officials to deem that "roughing", then follow the setup with the punchline of a fine and no suspension for a game who came off the bench, making no effort to get involved in the play, and attack a guy? Just brutal.
Fortunately, sometimes asshats like O'Brien get what's coming to them. I would suggest he re-think going after Nikita Zadorov next time these teams meet, because that was a pretty one-sided tilt.
Anyway, it's on to the second game of this five game homestand, the annual royal visit from the Leafs. Toronto's struggling a bit this season, with goaltending being a constant issue and inconsistent play from guys not named Nylander or Matthews. A team that some had as a genuine contender in the East at the start of the season is battling to stay afloat in the East, with a number of teams nipping at their heels. Pittsburgh is a mere 4 points back of the 3rd place Leafs, but just three out of a wild card spot.
The last time these teams met was one of the very few games this season where the Canucks didn't show up to play, and you can bet that Rick Tocchet is going to be reminding his players of that fact.
Since the 5-2 loss in November, the Canucks have gone 20-8-3, and are an impressive 15-4-1 at home. They've had the upper hand of late against Toronto, winning 6 of the last 10 meetings, and after an emotional win over the Coyotes, expect them to be fired up to keep the Leafs fans in the crowd quiet tonight.
The following lineup was scrawled on the back of a tractor trailer unit that crashed into an overpass on the TransCanada Highway... or maybe it was nhl dot com.
Maple Leafs projected lineup
Pontus Holmberg -- Auston Matthews -- Mitchell Marner
Tyler Bertuzzi -- John Tavares -- William Nylander
Matthew Knies -- Max Domi -- Calle Jarnkrok
Bobby McMann -- David Kampf -- Noah Gregor
Morgan Rielly -- T.J. Brodie
Simon Benoit -- Jake McCabe
Mark Giordano -- Timothy Liljegren
Scratched: Nicholas Robertson, William Lagesson, Conor Timmins
Injured: Ryan Reaves (lower body), Joseph Woll (ankle), John Klingberg (hip)
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: Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson
Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Probably no changes from Thursday, apart from the possibility that we see Andrei Kuzmenko back in the press box after another disappointing outfit. If he's out, expect Linus Karlsson to be in, and Sam Lafferty get bumped up to his slot.
GAME DAY CHATTER
Another reason for the Canucks' turn around this season? Massively better team on the road than seasons past.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Prolific Finnish speed merchants NECRO WEASEL are back with a new one, and it absolutely fuckin' rips! From 'A Brave New World', this is 'They Want Us To Suffer'. Check them out on Bandcamp, eh?
Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Leafs Suck! Go Canucks Go!