With the losing skid snuffed out after a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks are on the road for a hellacious 3 games in 4 nights that features a ridiculous amount of travel. They can do themselves a massive favour if they start it off with a win over the Avs tonight.
Vancouver Canucks (13-5-1) vs Colorado Avalanche (11-6-0)
Ball Arena, Denver, CO
It wasn't perfect, and the Canucks still look like a tired team, but they got the job done against a San Jose team that looked a hell of a lot better than the one they embarrassed a couple weeks back. While it's good they stopped the losing before it became a genuine streak, it certainly doesn't bode well heading into tonight's contest against one of the best in the West, with the altitude and issues related to that in consideration.
That's not to say we should just write this one off, mind you. The Avs have been struggling of late, just 5-5 in their last ten, and four of those are in the last three weeks. Those losses saw them outscored 23-8, including a 7-0 loss in Vegas and an 8-2 stomping at home to the St Louis Blues. It's not that they're not good, but it does show you even good teams, especially when they have to deal with injury issues, can struggle. Something to keep in mind over the next few weeks.
A lot of the hype heading into tonight is about the matchup between Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar, and while it's going to be a treat to see two of the NHL's best defencemen go head to head. But for me, this is a test for the Vancouver Canucks, and a chance for them to show they're ready to take this next step against a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. That's far more important to me than any one player's night. Sure, we'd love to see Quinn show everyone why he's quite likely the best in the NHL right now, but it's not the most important thing here. I'd take Hughes getting held off the scoresheet if the Canucks can roll outta Denver with two points in their pockets tonight.
One thing they'll need to do is get another one of those games from Thatcher Demko, and if there's a spot where the Canucks have a clear advantage over the Avs, it's in goal. They're going to need to make sure they all show up for one of those lunch pail kind of nights on defence. The Avs, in spite of recent struggles, are still very capable of scoring in bunches. That means things will need to be a hell of a lot tighter than they have been over the past few games, and more like what we saw when they played Dallas, for example.
This potential lineup was found scrawled on the back a program for Beetlejuice: The Musical. Or maybe it was on nhl dot com.
Canucks projected lineup
Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev
Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland
Nils Hoglander -- Sam Lafferty -- Anthony Beauvillier
Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek
Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen
Mark Friedman -- Tyler Myers
Scratched: Akito Hirose
Injured: Pius Suter (undisclosed), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Avalanche projected lineup
Valeri Nichushkin -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Jonathan Drouin -- Ryan Johansen -- Tomas Tatar
Miles Wood -- Ross Colton -- Logan O'Connor
Andrew Cogliano -- Fredrik Olofsson -- Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews -- Cale Makar
Bowen Byram -- Josh Manson
Jack Johnson -- Caleb Jones
Scratched: Kurtis MacDermid, Samuel Girard
Injured: Artturi Lehkonen (upper body)
Looks like we'll see the same lineup as we saw on Monday in the win over the Sharks. The Avs are going to be without D Samuel Girard, who is away from the team for personal reasons.
GAME DAY CHATTER
With three games in four nights, and the Canucks leaving Pius Suter at home, we should expect a call-up from Abbotsford to ensure that they have enough forwards to get through this.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Got an absolutely breathtaking cover of DIO's 'Rainbow In The Dark' from Denver doom metal crew KHEMMIS for you today. This is off their live mini album 'Doomed Heavy Metal'. It's only available digitally through Nuclear Blast Records, but if you like your metal slow and sludgy, these guys are well worth a listen.
Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Canucks Go!