After a thrilling, come from behind win over the New York Islanders , the Canucks vaulted into first in the West. Keeping this roll going could see them overtake the Bruins and move into first place in the NHL and holy hell did I just write that?
Vancouver Canucks (12-3-1) @ Calgary Flames (5-8-2)
6:00PM PST - SPORTSNET PACIFIC, SPORTSNET WEST
Trying to wrap my COVID-addled cranium around what is happening right now. I mean, where do you start?
Let's look at their record. If anyone had suggested that the Canucks would be 12-3-1 halfway through November, they would have been laughed into oblivion. Or how about the mind blowing fact that there's a 3 way tie for the NHL scoring lead, and they're all Canucks. Or Brock Boeser tied with Auston Matthews and Kyle Connor for the NHL goal scoring lead. But wait... there's more!
Filip Hronek is on an 11 game points streak. Thatcher Demko is in the top 5 for GAA, Sv%, and shutouts. And Casey DeSmith has won 4 of his 5 starts. The Canucks may actually be good, and they can basically go .500 the rest of the way and still make the playoffs. Take a moment and let that sink in. Not that we want them to do that, mind you. This first quarter of the season is setting the Canucks up rather nicely for the next couple months, where the quality of competition is gonna be a lot tougher than what they've faced so far.
But maybe we don't need to be worried. Last night was one hell of an indicator that things may truly be different this year. Last year, there's no way in hell they come back and win that game. Last year's team didn't have the confidence, nor the defensive capability to shut things down and throw everything they had at their opponent, and last year's team didn't have a captain that could literally end things the way Quinn Hughes did. Yeah, I went there.
Look, Bo Horvat was a good player for the Canucks, and yes he had some moments, but his lack of awareness on that GWG from Hughes was just so symbolic of who Horvat is. When he's on, he's on. So often, he's just not, and that's not someone who I would consider a leader. Leaders don't just make speeches. They pave the way through their actions, and you could not have asked for a stronger statement about whether or not the Canucks made the right choice, both in who should be the captain, as well as choosing J.T. Miller over Horvat.
So now it's onto Calgary, to take on a team that was supposed to be laughing as they watched us in their rear view mirror. Well, at least according to some. The Flames always seemed to be getting over-hyped by a number of pundits, and this season seems to be them crashing down to earth. Turns out it wasn't Darryl Sutter that was the problem, but a team in desperate need of a rebuild. With Nikita Zadorov asking for a trade, and others being available, including Chris Tanev, this season is just about a write off for the Calgary Flames. And it would just be wonderful if the Canucks had a hand in speeding up that process.
The following potential lineup was discovered written on a napkin from Peters' Drive In (Seriously, the best damn burger in Calgary), though it may also have been on nhl dot com.
Canucks projected lineup
Conor Garland -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev
Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Anthony Beauvillier
Linus Karlsson -- Sam Lafferty -- Nils Hoglander
Quinn Hughes -- Noah Juulsen
Ian Cole -- Filip Hronek
Mark Friedman -- Tyler Myers
Scratched: Akito Hirose
Injured: Pius Suter (undisclosed), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Flames projected lineup
Adam Ruzicka -- Elias Lindholm -- Andrew Mangiapane
Connor Zary -- Nazem Kadri -- Martin Pospisil
Jonathan Huberdeau -- Mikael Backlund -- Blake Coleman
A.J. Greer -- Yegor Sharangovich -- Dillon Dube
MacKenzie Weegar -- Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin -- Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov -- Nick DeSimone
Scratched: Walker Duehr, Dennis Gilbert
Injured: Jakob Pelletier (shoulder), Kevin Rooney (shoulder)
If there's anything that could derail the Canucks right now, it's not regression, but injuries. And after finding out Carson Soucy could be gone for up to eight weeks after a shot block took him out of the game in Montreal on Sunday, the Canucks were forced to shuffle things throughout the night against the Islanders. They've called up Akito Hirose from Abbotsford, but will likely go with last night's pairings.
It's not just the D that's banged up though. With Pius Suter a late scratch yesterday, and not likely to be ready to go tonight, the Canucks could also be without Andrei Kuzmenko, who stopped a J.T. Miller slapshot with his smilin' mug in the third period last night.
In goal, the Canucks are gonna turn to Casey DeSmith, while the Flames, desperate to try and gain some of the ground lost in the battle for a playoff spot in the West, are giving Jacob Markstrom the crease in a back to back situation that I am sure will end well for the Flames.
GAME DAY CHATTER
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Some Canadian metal for today's game. I was fortunate enough to snag copies of the Shadow Kingdom Records re-releases of 'Torment In Fire', 'Forward To Termination' and 'Soldiers Of Misfortune' from legendary TO thrashers SACRIFICE. Anyone who remembers the old Power Hour on Much Music knows this band well, part of the Canadian Big 5 (also including Exciter, Razor, Voivod and Annihilator). This one's off Soldiers of Misfortune, and it's one of my favorites from back in the day. As The World Burns!
Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Canucks Go!