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Game Preview / GameThread #34: Canucks @ Stars

December 21, 2023
- Kent Basky

The Canucks are back on their bullshit, and by bullshit, we mean defying the odds and predictions of what this season was going to look like. Tonight they'll roll into Dallas with a chance to head home having snagged 7 of 8 possible points on this Central Division road swing.

Vancouver Canucks (20-9-2) vs Dallas Stars (18-8-4)

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

5:00PM PST

Sportsnet Pacific

The wagon is rollin' yet again.

After a frustrating loss in the shootout to Minnesota, the Canucks rebounded with back to back wins in Chicago and Nashville, and will wrap up this four game road jaunt tonight in Dallas taking on the Stars. And what better place to end it than DFW against a team that they've beaten in 11 of their last 14 meetings.

The Stars have been one of the NHL's better teams over the last few seasons, but have been getting beaten repeatedly by the Canucks, who definitely have been one of the NHL's worst teams over that same time frame, and while it makes zero sense, it's only gonna get worse for Dallas.

As the Canucks showed against Nashville Tuesday night, even good teams are having fits trying to handle the tenacity of the Canucks forechecking. The Preds came into that game winners of 13 of their last 16, yet never had a sniff as the Canucks rolled over them in the second period.

That's not to say that there aren't issues that need addressing, but unlike Canucks teams of the past, things that aren't working get addressed immediately. They've had a near complete buy in on Rick Tocchet's systems, and when you add in the incredible efforts from the players that GM Patrik Allvin brought in this season, they truly are a much different squad than the one we suffered through for years. Jim Benning swore he could retool on the fly, but he never came close to doing what Allvin and Jim Rutherford have managed to do since they were hired. I mean, the Canucks have a chance to go into the NHL's Christmas break in first place overall. Not even the most optimistic Canucks fan could have imagined this.

And while this is a hell of a lot of fun, this is still a team that cannot take a night off, and is going to have to continue to hope for more good luck when it comes to staying healthy if they hope to continue on this trajectory and not just make the playoffs, but actually make a run at the Cup. Yes, I think we've reached the point where we can start talking about this, and believe me when I say it's as weird as it sounds.

And one thing that's going to help this? Some well-deserved rest. After Saturday's home game against San Jose, the Canucks have just two games over the following ten days. That's going to be massive in terms of letting the guys who are playing a little banged up get healthy, and considering the daunting seven game road swing coming up next month, heading into that healthy and well rested is going to be huge.

LINEUPS

The following potential lineup was found in the basement of the Alamo. Or maybe it was on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Pius Suter

Nils Hoglander -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Philip Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Andrei Kuzmenko

Injured: Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson -- Roope Hintz -- Joe Pavelski

Jamie Benn -- Wyatt Johnston -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mason Marchment -- Matt Duchene -- Tyler Seguin

Craig Smith -- Radek Faksa -- Sam Steel

Ryan Suter -- Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell -- Jani Hakanpaa

Thomas Harley -- Nils Lundkvist

Scott Wedgewood

Matt Murray

Scratched: Ty Dellandrea, Joel Hanley

Injured: Jake Oettinger (lower body)

And for a fourth straight game, Andrei Kuzmenko is a healthy scratch. Not a surprise, given how well the Canucks are playing right now. It's probably going to take an injury to get him back into the lineup, and every passing game makes it more likely he gets dealt at some point unless they can find a way to get him in sync with the rest of his team and play his way out of his troubles.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We're gonna wrap up my last game preview before Xmas with an absolute rager from Irish lunatics GAMA BOMB. Off their new disc 'BATS', here's "Don't Get Your Hair Cut". From mine to yours, all the best this holiday season, eh? Stay safe, happy and warm, and enjoy some hockey through it all. Go Canucks Go!

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