After a fairly successful road swing out east, the Canucks return home for their first back to back of the season. They're mostly intact and even more surprisingly, adapting and addressing issues on the ice.
CANUCKS (4-2-0) vs BLUES (3-2-1)
7:00 PM PST
It was looking kinda grim, and kinda familiar. A poor effort in Philadelphia, followed by a better, but nowhere good enough one in Tampa and the Canucks found themselves crashing back to earth, sitting at .500 to start the season, and looking very much like the Canucks teams we've been subjected to for the last decade. But when they got to South Florida, something changed. Little tweaks, like moving Tyler Myers to third pairing defensive minutes, and a renewed approach to the 'defence by committee' mindset Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff have been preaching paid huge dividends, as they came up with a big win in Sunrise against the Panthers, and followed it up with a dominant performance in Nashville.
Both games saw the Canucks be the better team in the 2nd period, something that his been this franchise's kryptonite for a long time now, and the Panthers game showed us something we didn't see last season: when faced with coughing up a lead, they didn't buckle under the pressure, and instead got a huge goal from Andrei Kuzmenko, and an empty netter from Brock Boeser to seal the deal.
In Nashville, it was the supporting cast getting it done, with goals from Ilya Mikhayev, Phil DiGiuseppe, and Nils Hoglander scoring for the Canucks. They hung on to get the win, but were the far better team on the ice that night. The attention to detail, and getting commitments from guys like JT Miller and Elias Pettersson to lead defensively has become a rallying cry on this team, and when you add in the chemistry that's developed between Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek, the Canucks may genuinely be... good. I say this cautiously, but they're definitely making life easier on Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith, and that's going to be a massive factor in a potential return to the postseason, especially with the way the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have stumbled out of the gate.
Tonight they take on the latest team to embarrass the Flames, the St Louis Blues. Fresh off a 3-0 shutout at the Saddledome last night, the Canucks will hope they can catch their opponents tired, and win their third straight before hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Blues haven't exactly been a powerhouse so far, losing two shootouts already this season as well as a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes. They have won two of their last three though, and always seem to play the Canucks hard.
The following projected lineup was seen plastered on a bus stop on Hastings St next to a flyer looking for people interested in losing weight in an experimental treatment doctors don't want you to know about. Or, it might have also been on nhl dot com.
Blues projected lineup
Brandon Saad -- Robert Thomas -- Jordan Kyrou
Pavel Buchnevich -- Brayden Schenn -- Kasperi Kapanen
Alexey Toropchenko -- Kevin Hayes -- Jake Neighbours
Oskar Sundqvist -- Sammy Blais
Nick Leddy -- Colton Parayko
Torey Krug -- Justin Faulk
Marco Scandella -- Robert Bortuzzo
Scratched: Jakub Vrana, Tyler Tucker, Nikita Alexandrov
Canucks projected lineup
Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev
Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua -- Pius Suter -- Conor Garland
Anthony Beauvillier -- Sam Lafferty -- Nils Hoglander
Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek
Ian Cole -- Mark Friedman
Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers
Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Jack Studnicka
Injured: Teddy Blueger (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Looks like if something's not broken, just leave it when it comes to the Canucks. Blueger isn't ready to return just yet, but they'll deal with that bridge when they get to it. Thatcher Demko will get the crease tonight, while DeSmith will get the Rangers tomorrow. It's refreshing to not have to be worried about Demko's workload right now, and the DeSmith trade is looking better all the time. They'll be facing the perpetually aggrieved diaper baby Jordan Binnington tonight, and hopefully they'll light the goal lamp redder than his constantly pissed off face tonight.
GAME DAY CHATTER
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Greek thrashers BIO-CANCER are back with a new album, and this one's an absolute beast. They continue to get better with each release, and are ready to make that step to be considered among some of the upper echelon Euro thrash acts now. Check out the video for 'Citizen...Down!' from Revengeance available now on Hammerheart Records. I picked this one up on vinyl the other day and it's glorious!
Enjoy the game tonight, and we'll have full postgame coverage as well as a look at tomorrow night's tilt against the Rangers. Go Canucks Go!