Come For The Banter - Stay For The Disappointment
Nucks Fan Rebuild & Retool Center - Come For The Banter - Stay For The Disappointment

Tonight there is no middle ground: It will either go down as one of the greatest victories in Canucks history, or another chapter in the tale of the most cursed franchise in hockey.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS EDMONTON OILERS (SERIES TIED 3-3)

6:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS

As if things weren't emotional enough heading into the deciding game of this series, the hockey gods decided once again to test the Canucks. Already without their All Star goaltender since Game Two of the first round, and with a number of their best players obviously playing hurt, the Canucks will now have to find a way to victory without their top scorer in the post-season this year.

At the same time, the health of Brock Boeser, and the possible implications of this diagnosis on his career outweigh the importance of the game. The longest serving Canuck has been through a lot in his nine years in Vancouver. Injuries, struggles with years of a sub-par roster, leading to some to say he'd been a bust after an amazing rookie season. The emotional toll of his father's passing to cancer, and the Canucks nearly trading him away all culminated in this year, where he came out and had his best season ever. That it ends like this, and could potentially be the end of his career is just so damn cruel.

We've been saying all along that this is all just gravy on a season none of us dared to dream could happen. That doesn't change. What has changed, is the desire to see the Canucks come out of this night victorious. Of course it's not going to be easy, but with a packed house at Rogers Arena, and the way the Canucks have responded to bad performances like the one in Game Six, which was their worst of the playoffs by a mile, maybe this Cinderella story isn't done just yet.

In order to pull this off, there's going to have to be some changes. One of them is getting shots on goal, as many as they can. It's infuriating that they managed a paltry 15 shots on Stuart Skinner Saturday night. Allowing him to regain some confidence is a serious failure on the Canucks part, and bringing him back down to earth and back to his sub .800 save percentage is one of the biggest keys to a Canucks victory.

Another thing the Canucks must do is score on the bloody power play. Keep it simple, and just pound the damn puck on Skinner every chance they get. Get in his sight lines and create havoc in front of the net. They've wasted so many opportunities to get the upper hand on the Oilers with the failures on the power play. Tonight, they can change that.

Despite what seems a mountain of adversity, the bulk of the pressure is still on the Oilers. One cannot imagine that the brain trust of this team can survive another post-season failure, especially in a season where they were picked by many to win it all for the first time since their last Cup in 1990. With rumours swirling about Ken Holland potentially bailing for the open GM position in Columbus, a loss for the Oilers tonight could bring about a major shakeup.

It's going to take more than the Canucks' best players being their best players tonight. To a man, the Canucks have to step up and do this. Home teams tend to win more often in Game Seven, and the team that scores first wins around 75% of the time. Get that first goal early, break Skinner's confidence and do not let up til the siren goes.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Phil Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Nils Aman

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson, Christian Wolanin, Vasily Podkolzin

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed), Brock Boeser (undisclosed)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Derek Ryan

Mattias Janmark -- Sam Carrick -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak -- Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Corey Perry, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body)

There was some discussion that we might see Miller and Pettersson paired up in Boeser's absence and from these lineups it doesn't look as though it'll start off that way, but we'll see what happens. Tocchet has done a fantastic job of using his changes at home, and we could see a bit of a blender tonight. Mikheyev and Lafferty are back in, and that's an experience thing more than anything else I'm sure. Having had some time to rest and heal (especially in Mikheyev's case) could help. No other changes, and no changes for the Oilers.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Amen. It's been a hell of a year, and it may come to an end tonight, but we know these guys won't go down without a fight. Go Canucks Go!

The Canucks have a chance to move to the Conference Finals for just the fourth time in franchise history tonight. They'll look to build off their best game of the post-season and finish off the Oilers in Edmonton.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS EDMONTON OILERS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-2)

5:00PM PST

ROGERS PLACE, EDMONTON, AB

RADIO: SN650 TV: ESPN, SN, CBC, TVAS

After the first ten minutes of Game Five, it was starting to feel like the Canucks were going to have a hard time trying to take advantage of home ice when an Evander Kane goal put them down 1-0 in the first five minutes. They turned up the intensity though, and began to do what they've done all season: wearing down teams with relentless forechecking, timely hits and constant pressure. They were rewarded late in the period when Carson Soucy sniped a point shot past Calvin Pickard to tie the game. The Oilers would take advantage of a mistake by Soucy, leading to a 2 on 1, with Mattias Janmark scoring just 0:23 later.

Fortunately, another trait the Canucks have shown this season, was zero panic when falling behind. We've seen it throughout these playoffs, and in the second period, great work behind the net by Nils Aman saw him strip the puck off Evan "He's so much better than Quinn Hughes" Bouchard, feeding new Daddy Phil Di Giuseppe out front, who made with the Bertuzzian spin-o-rama for the tying goal.

The Canucks would continue to press, and it's only due to a strong performance from Pickard that the game would stay tied. The Oilers were being outhit, outworked, and outclassed, but they couldn't get the go-ahead goal. We prepared ourselves for what would be a nerve-wracking overtime. Fortunately, someone forgot to tell Elias Pettersson, Elias Lindholm and J.T. Miller.

With less than a minute remaining, Lindholm fired a shot towards the net, which was re-directed by Pettersson with a soccer style backheel. The puck went by Pickard, off the post and right to a waiting Miller, who buried it for the GWG. It will live on as one of best playoff goals in Canucks history, as the Canucks once again found a way to win late.

Apart from the slow start, this was the most complete game we've seen out of the Canucks in this year's playoffs. The lineup additions were impactful, as were the line changes. The Pettersson, Lindholm and Nils Hoglander line were noticeable all night, and Hoglander nearly gave the Canucks the lead in the third, but Pickard was able to get enough of Hogs' shot to steer it into the post.

Another huge factor was the penalty kill, which picked up where it left off in the third period of Game Four and kept the fearsome Oilers PP off the scoresheet, going 5/5 on kills and even getting a couple short handed chances in the process. They outhit the Oilers 41-23, and dominated the faceoff dot, winning just over 57% of the draws.

After Game Four, Head Coach Rick Tocchet complained about too many passengers, and said it would be addressed. WIth Sam Lafferty, Ilya Mikheyev and Linus Karlsson sitting, Hoglander, Di Giuseppe and Vasily Podkolzin came in and were noticeable, and it's pretty unlikely we'll see them back in the press box for Game Six.

As he has been throughout the playoffs, veteran Dman Ian Cole was just getting buried out there. Too slow, too casual, and making too many bad decisions that have led to pucks getting behind Arturs Silovs. Cole's been a valuable member of the Canucks blue line this season, and as an experienced vet and Stanley Cup winner, his voice is surely valuable. But on the ice, between bad plays and bad luck, Cole is a massive liability, and Tocchet would do well to take him out of the lineup and bring Noah Juulsen back in. For the number of minutes Juulsen would need to replace with Cole out, this isn't a huge issue.


And what about Silovs? He continues to be one of the best stories of the NHL Playoffs, battling hard to keep the Canucks in every single game, as well as keep the entire nation of Latvia up til the wee hours of the morning as they watch their hero. Thatcher Demko's inching closer and closer to his return, but how can you not give Silovs the crease tonight and give him the chance to close out against the Oilers, and give Demko a couple more days to get ready before a Western Conference Finals date with the Dallas Stars?

The biggest factor? The way the Canucks have continued to limit Connor McDavid's impact on this series. He's had just one assist in the last three games, and was on the ice for two of the three Canucks goals in Game Five. Is he hurt? Maybe. But the job that J.T. Miller and the rest of the team have done in limiting time and space is paying off. Look for them to continue this tonight.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Lindholm -- Elias Pettersson

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Phil Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Vasily Podkolzin

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson, Sam Lafferty, Ilya Mikheyev, Christian Wolanin

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Oilers projected lineup

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Dylan Holloway -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Warren Foegele -- Ryan McLeod -- Corey Perry

Mattias Janmark -- Derek Ryan -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Vincent Desharnais

Brett Kulak -- Cody Ceci

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Sam Carrick, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body)

As mentioned, no changes for the Canucks. Apart from Skinner, there might be one change with the Oilers. There is a player that is reportedly sick, and may be replaced at game time. We'll see how that plays out, but Adam Henrique, the Oilers' big trade deadline acquisition is definitely out tonight.

As has been the case, but nevermore so tonight: the pressure is squarely on the Edmonton Oilers, a team that was picked by many at the start of the season to win the Stanley Cup. And tonight, they (along with a TON of journalists who picked the Oilers to win this series) will be added to the list of those who underestimated the 2023-24 Vancouver Canucks.

GAME DAY CHATTER

The Canucks have been making history all season long, so why stop now?

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Haven't dragged this one out for a long time, but it feels like it was written for this game, right? A Vancouver band, with a video that I believe was filmed at the Commodore, if I'm not mistaken. From the album S.Y.L., it's STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and their killer anthem 'Relentless'.

One step away from the third round. Win or lose, this has been a hell of a run, but here's to this story being far from over. Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Canucks Go!

After blowing an opportunity to close out at home, the Canucks are back in Nashville, with a second opportunity to move forward with a win over the Preds this afternoon.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-2)

4:00PM PST

BRIDGESTONE ARENA, NASHVILLE, TN

RADIO: SN650 TV: MAX, truTV, TNT, BSSO, SN, TVAS, CBC

It's perfectly fine to be frustrated with the Game 5 loss. It was a missed opportunity, as well as a chance to get a bit of rest before taking on the Edmonton Oilers in the Pacific Division Final aka Round 2. That being said, the Canucks are still in the drivers seat, and if there's something that should keep everyone hopeful for today's game, it's that they've yet to play their best hockey of the post-season.

That's not to imply in any way that this will be easy. The Preds are going to come out hard from the drop of the puck, and much like they did in Game 3, the Canucks will need to weather the storm. Then again, it probably wouldn't surprise me to see the Canucks come storming out themselves. You have to know they're not happy they let the last game get away, and nothing would be more pleasing than taking the crowd out of it early.

The list of players who need to step up is far larger than those who have shone in this series, and they're going to need some help from the supporting cast to bring this across the finish line. And in the name all that is right and good, whatever Ilya Mikheyev has done to anger the hockey gods, please, I implore you, release him from your cruel grip. The poor bastard, and this fan base have suffered enough.

At the end of the day, the Canucks just need to get back to playing the systems that saw them shock the NHL this season. They've beaten better teams than Nashville, and are in this situation because the Preds goalie has stolen two games for them. That ends tonight.

LINEUPS

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Roman Josi -- Dante Fabbro

Ryan McDonagh -- Tyson Barrie

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Luke Schenn, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen, Kevin Gravel

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

No changes either way, it would seem. If there is to be changes, both coaches are keeping their cards close to the vest. I wouldn't be surprised to see the lines get put in a blender a bit, especially to get guys like Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller going.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Silovs has played well, and earned the start. It's not a knock on DeSmith, but in a way, Silovs is more experienced in big games given his run for Latvia at the World Championships last spring.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

This band Killer Kin, and they hail from Connecticut. I love the old school vibe of this video, as well as the nods to Motorhead and Zeke in their sound. Filthy, grimy rock n roll the way it should be, baby! Crank up 'Point Blank' and get psyched for Game 6!!!

With three minutes to go in Game Four, it looked like the Canucks were headed back to Vancouver with the series tied. What no one counted on, was Brock Boeser unleashing hell in Nashville, scoring twice with Arturs Silovs on the bench to force OT. After that, they needed just a minute more for Elias Lindholm to seal the deal and push the Preds to the brink of elimination.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-1)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: TVAS2, TBS, MAX, SN, BSSO

After the way the Canucks performed in Game Two, it certainly didn't feel like we'd be heading for an elimination game tonight. But after gutsy wins in Games Three and Four, they find themselves in the position to punch their ticket to the second round tonight with a win over Nashville. Given their health situation through four hard hitting games, getting a few days to rest and heal definitely sounds like something to take advantage of.

You can say that the Canucks didn't deserve to win on Sunday afternoon, but it was Nashville who took their foot off the gas in the dying minutes of the third, setting up one of the greatest Canucks playoff victories in franchise history. And how fitting that it was Brock Boeser, the Canucks' longest serving player, that put the team on his back and tied the game twice with the goalie pulled. This guy has been here through some of the darkest days, and by god, he may just may lead them to a shot at the Stanley Cup.

And how about the performance of Arturs Silovs? The Canucks turned to their third stringer, desperate when Casey DeSmith was unable to go, and the Hero of the great nation of Latvia said, "I stopped America, and I will stop Nashville, too!"

Combined with another strong defensive effort, the Canucks worked to give Silovs the opportunity to see pucks, clearing the net front and rebounds efficiently. They also put in another stellar night of penalty killing, as once again, the Canucks were forced to kill off some ticky-tack calls while Nashville seemed to commit fouls with impunity.

Instead of wondering if they were going to suffer a disappointing first round loss, the Canucks, much like their shocking regular season, are becoming the story of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It would have been easy to write them off given the loss of Demko, let alone DeSmith, but this team has a vibe so reminiscent of the 1994 Canucks team that battled back from being down 3-1 to Calgary to win that series, then take out the favoured Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs before coming within a goal of winning it all in Game Seven to he who shall not be named.

They have talent, speed, skill, strength, and seem to relish in proving people wrong. It may be one series, and it's a long road to go, but this team is making believers out of people by finding ways to win even when it seems they shouldn't. You know, the way really good teams do. I know for some who cover the game, it's gotta be tough admitting you've continued to be wrong about this team. And we enjoy watching your discomfort, trust me.

The beauty of Silovs' performance on Sunday, is that he's given them the option of going with him again in Game Five, rather than pushing DeSmith back if he's not quite ready. It's this kind of depth that's been missing from this team for the longest time, paying dividends when it truly matters. And early reports are that Silovs will indeed get the start tonight. Maybe. Both teams are playing it close to the vest in terms of changes tonight.

If there's one thing to be encouraged about heading into this game, it's that the Canucks have played far from what could be considered their best hockey. They've had a team play them tough, and despite all the challenges, still found a way to come out on top. They will need everyone on board for tonight, as the further you go, the the more costly passengers along for the ride can be.

LINEUPS

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Roman Josi -- Dante Fabbro

Ryan McDonagh -- Luke Schenn

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

GAME DAY CHATTER

If you haven't seen it yet, Chris Higgins' new feature 'All In The Details' is fantastic.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Swiss moshmonsters INSANITY ALERT have a new video for the title track to their new EP, a beautiful pisstake on a QUEEN classic. Enjoy 'Moshemian Thrashody' as you get pumped up for tonight!

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

Game 3 saw the Canucks get big games from their big names, a huge performance from Casey DeSmith, and gave Nashville a heapin' helpin' of their own medicine.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 2-1)

2:00PM PST

BRIDGESTONE ARENA, NASHVILLE, TN

RADIO: SN650 TV: TBS, truTV, MAX, SN, TVAS, BSSO

It wasn't a masterpiece, by any stretch of the imagination, but playoff runs are sometimes about finding ways to win. And full credit to Rick Tocchet and his staff for making adjustments after a frustrating loss in Game 2, The Canucks were able to work through Nashville's defensive strategy, give Casey DeSmith the support he needed. A lot of the shots DeSmith faced were from the perimeter, and when he did face high danger opportunities, the defence were there to deal with rebounds.

Probably the biggest factor in the Game 3 victory was the arrival of the long lost Canucks PP that at one point in the season, put the fear of God into teams. J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser were outstanding, and we saw positive signs from not only Elias Pettersson, but sparks of life from Nils Hoglander and Ilya Mikheyev. The lasting impact of this win though, was the mental aspect. When the Predators know that taking penalties = a puck in the back of their net, it could make them a little hesitant to continue going for those big hits. That can open up a bit of space, and allow the Canucks to use their speed.

At the end of the day though, they're still going to need DeSmith to stand tall in the crease today if they hope to return to Vancouver on Tuesday with a 3-1 series lead. Winning the special teams battle is becoming a huge factor so far, and if they can continue to have success on the power play, as well as keep their phenomenal penalty killing so far going, it will pay off.

LINEUPS

Scrawled in sharpie on a chair thrown off the roof of a Nashville nightclub, it's today's potential lineups. though I heard you can find this on nhll dot com, too.

Canucks projected lineup

Pius Suter -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Casey DeSmith

Arturs Silovs

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Nikita Tolopilo

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed)

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Anthony Beauvillier -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Mark Jankowski -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Dante Fabbro -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Gustavs Grigals, Juuso Parssinen

Injured: Spencer Stastney (upper body)

No changes for the Canucks, while Nashville will be without Spencer Stastney, who left Game 3 after the hit by Dakota Joshua.

GAME DAY CHATTER

IYKYK

While it's no surprise he got a slap on the wrist, it's a surprise they even gave him a slap on the wrist. Complete douchebaggery from the Preds forward, and a costly one as the Canucks scored on the resulting PP.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

With their new album out in a couple weeks time, Vancouver's own UNLEASH THE ARCHERS are preparing to bring their energetic brand of power metal to festivals around the globe, and while there's no shows planned in Canada thus far apart from a date in Laval, PQ in Spetember, there's sure to be some in their next touring cycle that you can check out. From 'Phantoma', out May 10 on Napalm Records, this is Seeking Vengeance.

A little afternoon hockey sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday, eh? Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!!!

The important thing to take away from last night's loss in Vegas is that we should all be panicking and the sky is most definitely falling, right?

Vancouver Canucks (46-21-8) vs. Arizona Coyotes  (31-38-5)

7pm PDT; 10 p.m. ET

TV: Sportsnet Pacific, SCRIPPS

Radio: Sportsnet 650

Before we get started, I just want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who reached out as I have been trying to deal with the health-related knucklepuck that's been thrown at me. The response and the love was truly humbling, and gave me strength in the recovery process. I'm down a kidney, and in two weeks I will begin my first treatment in a year of immunotherapy to help my body fight off any further outbreaks of cancer. I'm going to try my best to keep contributing through this, as we prepare for the first real playoff run in almost a decade.

So, there's no way to sugar coat it. Last night sucked. Yes, the officiating was bad, and was definitely a factor, but the Canucks lost that game, plain and simple. It would be easy to look at the last couple weeks and say well, they lost to Colorado, Dallas and now Vegas, obviously they can't hang with the big boys. I don't buy that. The first two losses could easily have been wins, and the Avs and Stars won hard fought games that were decided by one mistake. Last night? It was a comedy of errors, compounded by two officials who have been making a strong case for genuine bias against a particular team.

Yeah, it was an ugly loss, and there was little to find that you could be positive about in it, but we need to look at the big picture here, folks. It doesn't erase a year of hard work, and let's face it: it's better to shit the bed now than after April 20th. Are there concerns? Of course there are. No one's trying to say that the Canucks are a sure thing to go all the way, and if they are, they're wrong. What they are is a good team, that, when they're healthy, with their all star goaltender in the crease, they are one of the better teams in the NHL this season. Don't buy into the mindset that anything less than a Cup this year is a failure, either. The only failure would be a first round sweep, and with Thatcher Demko in goal I just can't see that happening no matter who they play.

What is happening with this team right now is probably helping far more than it's hurting them. Look back at last year's Boston Bruins. They were on cruise control through the whole season, and looked untouchable. They faced adversity for the first time in Round One and folded under that pressure.

The playoffs are hard. None of these teams are going to be an easy matchup, and the more the Canucks see they can't bring anything less than 100% of the style of play that saw them utterly dominate some of the league's better teams this season, the better. I mean, it's possible some guys are playing hurt, and we saw just how important Dakota Joshua has become to this hockey club when he returned after six weeks away to heal a broken hand. It's been said by many smarter than myself: Trust the process.

There's a long way to go in this battle to bring this franchise back to respectability, and none of us expected things to go the way they have this season. And while they may be ahead of schedule, whatever happens shouldn't dampen your hopes for the Canucks. It was supposed to be a 'maybe they can battle for a wild card spot' kind of year, and instead, they'll head into the post-season with home ice advantage. That alone is huge, and trust me: it's not lost on the guys in that room, especially the ones who were part of the bubble playoff team in 2020.

Just breathe and enjoy this. It's just the start of things being better, and this whole season has been such a joy after a decade of abject misery. It's fun again, and I refuse to lose sight of that.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was scrawled into the dirt on an ACME delivery truck that was heading off to deliver to some schmuck trying to catch a roadrunner... or maybe it was on the ol nhl dot com thingy...

10 p.m. ET; SCRIPPS, SNP

Canucks projected lineup

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- J.T. Miller -- Conor Garland

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Sam Lafferty

Vasily Podkolzin -- Teddy Blueger -- Arshdeep Bains

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Noah Juulsen

Injured: Thatcher Demko (lower body), Elias Lindholm (upper body)

Coyotes projected lineup

Clayton Keller -- Nick Bjugstad -- Nick Schmaltz

Lawson Crouse -- Logan Cooley -- Dylan Guenther

Matias Maccelli -- Jack McBain -- Josh Doan

Liam O’Brien -- Alex Kerfoot -- Michael Carcone

J.J. Moser -- Sean Durzi

Juuso Valimaki -- Michael Kesselring

Travis Dermott -- Josh Brown

Connor Ingram

Karel Vejmelka

Scratched: None

Injured: Barrett Hayton (lower body)

Arturs Silovs gets the nod tonight, coming off a fantastic performance Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks at home. And while it's 3 games in 4 nights for the Canucks, expect them to come out fired up after a sub-par performance last night, and also because these are two teams that have been developing a genuine dislike for each other.

GAME DAY CHATTER

With a 60 minute effort and no passengers tonight, they can get things back on track as they have a huge game Saturday night against the Kings. The good news is, they could have Demko back, as he will be eligible to come off LTIR this weekend. Start treating every game like the playoffs have already started, and we'll see where this goes.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

I'm sorry you were all subjected to the ahem, musical choices that Westy provided in my absence, but I assure that I will make amends, starting now. And since the Canucks are in Arizona tonight, how about a brand new one from OG AZ thrashers ATROPHY? A long awaited new album is coming soon, and from that disc called 'Asylum' on Massacre Records, this is 'Punishment For All'.

It's really good to be back, especially with a potential for an honest to god playoff run that starts in a couple weeks. I'm glad to be able to be here with you guys for this. LFG!

It's time for another Nucks Misconduct Round Table. We gather up the NM scribes, ask a few burning questions, you know the deal. As always, we must remind you that the views of Jimmi and Westy are not necessarily those of NM, nor any other sane human being. This week, we look at the Canucks' performance in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and discuss the free agency additions they've made since Canada Day.

1- First up, let's talk about the draft. While dispensing with the notion that anyone can say with certainty how any of these draft picks will do, let's hear how you feel about the picks, starting with the one they chose at #11: Tom Willander.

Westy - Reinbacher was the best defenseman available but he had a large strike against him for Vancouver, he was not Swedish. So when Willander's name and threw a "23" jersey on him, I had two main thoughts. First, Vancouver getting a Swedish player just feels right. Secondly, the fact they put Edler's "23" on him is just bad ju-ju. Sticks will be breaking all over the place. Unfortunately, after years of Canucks fandom Stockholm syndrome, this pick was logical to me. Which means it probably won't work out.

jimmi - Coulda been worse... there were pre-draft rumours the Nucks would trade down to 15th - swap with Smashville, send a bad contract south... and still have picked Willander. Ok, fine. Not that much worse. I'm not worried about Westy's Fedling curse. Nucks have so many - could be years and years before the stick breaks out of the queue.

Kent- While I agree that it could have been worse there, this was a frustrating pick in my view. Sure, Willander could turn out to be a solid Dman down the road, the Canucks surely would have been better served by taking the best player available at this stage of their post-Benning recovery, and that was Zach Benson. The irony of Buffalo snagging him could be glaring as time goes on. That being said, building a stockpile of prospects, especially on the back end is something this team needs, so let's hope the stubbornness shown by the Canucks scouting staff pays off here.

Markus - I'm not gonna pretend to know anything about these guys. I don't know anything about them beyond what I've learned over the past few days. But on a macro strategy level, I appreciate them finally picking up some defenders. It was so frustrating watching them go skater heavy the past few years, so that was a nice change of pace.

Beggsy - I like Tom Willander as a prospect from the tape I've watched. If he hits on his potential, he'll be exactly what the Canucks need - a defensively responsible, smooth skating, top-four defenceman who can take on tough matchups. I do think Zach Benson was the best player available so I'm in the same boat as Kent. He'll be a guy worth watching (for masochistic purposes) as time goes on.

I also liked the Hunter Brussel Sprouts pick, but I didn't feel great about their final four selections.

2- The Canucks did some rather tidy work of shoring up some depth, and addressing organizational needs through the newly-opened free agency market. Thanks to the cap space cleared up from the Oliver Ekman-Larsson buyout, they had money to spend and they did. First on the list was C Teddy Blueger.

Westy - Who? Seriously. I had to Google him to see he is probably going to be glued to the 4th line. I'm not sure if he is supposed to be on the PK as well. A consistent 20 point guy is not really exciting.

jimmi - You know what could be exciting? Not setting another Nucking record. The record for the worst of the worst of all time NHL PKs. Also... he's gotta Cup ring. So does Ben Hutton. Anyways... if Blueger can bring some of that hard-checking, puck-hounding Strip Glitz to our PK, it would be great.

Kent- The key to a successful team is not just having star players, but guys who excel in the support roles, and I think Blueger could be that guy. First, while he's known as Teddy, his given name is Teodors (he's Latvian by birth) and I am all about those Latvian names. With Arturs Silovs ready to make the move to the backup role behind Thatcher Demko after his solid AHL season and coming out party at the 2023 IIHF Worlds, leading Latvia to a bronze medal, having a fellow countryman in the lineup will be huge. He's a solid faceoff man, and a penalty kill specialist, both things that the Canucks need to be better at this season. A one year deal to prove himself at a team-friendly rate for a guy with a Cup ring? Not sure there's a bad side here.

Markus - Seems like a solid enough bottom-six centerman. I'm not totally sold on him as a 3C -- which I think remains maybe the most glaring hole on the roster -- but he'll probably serviceable there, and ideally, he's a top notch 4C. Good pick up.

Beggsy - The Canucks aren't going to turn into a Stanley Cup contender next season, so with that in mind, I really liked the one-year bet on Blueger. He always stood out to me in Pittsburgh as a penalty killer. Hopefully putting a player like Garland or Hoglander on his line will help boost his offence. But as my NM family has done, you need to temper expectations because in reality he's a 4LC.

3- Next up was the first of a couple new faces on the back end: Ian Cole.

Westy - Old Man Cole logged close to 20 minutes a night for the Lightning. I don't think he will be asked to do that in Vancouver, but what do I know. An injury here or there and he could ask to center the 1st line. Not an offensive threat, Cole will be ask to be that big body on the 2nd or third pairing. The 1 year contract is kind of nice, as each side gets to see how things go before making a drastic choice.

jimmi - Cole harbour connection to JR and the Pens? Not surprising. One year. We can take that.

Kent- Last year, the Canucks were embarrassingly bad on defence. As a result, much of their work in free agency has been devoted to bringing in some new faces on the back end. First up is journeyman Ian Cole. Another player that Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin are very familiar with, Cole won back to back Cups with the Penguins, and while he's bounced around a lot, he's the kind of stay at home D needed for the Canucks middle six. Another one year deal, and a very affordable one at that. He literally can't do worse than what we got from Oliver Ekman-Larsson last season, so this is another nice deal for the Canucks.

Markus - Seems like a sturdy addition to the top four. I don't expect him to be groundbreaking, but he seems like a low-maintenance, reliable second pair guy that I won't have to think about too much. And after years of Myers and OEL's nonsense, and people claiming that Luke Schenn is so good that he should have his number retired, I'm looking forward to it.

Beggsy - As long as father time doesn't hit Cole like a Tyler Myers-sized truck next season, he'll boost the Canucks defence. If he can play in a top-four shutdown and top penalty-killing role for the Lightning, then surely he'll help the Canucks.

4- Then we got to the biggest (and least surprising) signing of the day: former Seattle Kraken D Carson Soucy.

Westy - Soucy should be forced to play with Myers for the first shift of the year so we can all see the height. And then separate them as quick as possible so Myers doesn't infect him. Soucy should bring a more physical presence to the back end and hopefully can move the puck out of the defensive zone quicker. I am happy with the contract (except maybe the NTC) and happy that he can be the tall guy next year when Myers is gone.

jimmi - Soucy was saucy versus the Avs in the Western something somethings. Possibly the best Defensive D on the Kracks. If that was because of the Team-D concept executed very well by a newbie team and not some innate D-manding skill, could we tell? No, we could not. Doesn't matter. He looks meaner and tougher than OEL, so he might even be able to keep Myers from a lot some a little freelancing at the wrong time.

Kent- One of the biggest issues with the Canucks from a defensive standpoint over the past few years is that they were absolutely not hard to play against. Apart from Tyler Myers and the now-departed Kyle Burroughs, there just wasn't a lot on the back end that made guys fear going to the net. Soucy, all 6'5" and 210 pounds of him was solid paired with Justin Schultz last season for the Seattle Kraken. He definitely replaces the sandpaper that Burroughs brought, and doesn't appear to have a lot of glaring defensive deficiencies. The contract seems a little pricey, but if he can build on a couple solid years with the Kraken and bring some stability in front of Demko, it'l be money well spent.

Markus - Don't know much about this guy, but by all accounts, another rock solid, reliable add to the D core. No issues with the profile. I guess he's not a slam dunk, no-doubt-about-it top four guy, but I like the odds based on everything I've read. Looking forward to seeing what the ceiling is.

Beggsy - I think I'm more skeptical on what Soucy can be than most pundits in this market. The fact that he saw his role diminished with the Kraken last season was cause for concern. Even though he played well in the playoffs, he only played 15 minutes per night.

That being said, there are things to like about his game. I think pairing him with Quinn Hughes is the way to go (after pairing him with Myers for a game to appease Westy).

5- They followed that up with a couple two way deals: One for veteran Dman and Brentwood Bay, BC native Matt Irwin, and G Zach Sawchenko.

Westy - In a perfect world, neither one of these two would touch the ice next year...or ever. But the Fairies love taking defensemen down so Irwin can log some 3rd pairing minutes this year if guys like Juulsen or Hirose or Rathbone can't play. Sawchenko will have to fight for time on the farm team with Martin.

jimmi - In a perfect world, the Nucks woulda won the Cup in '82, '94, 2011 and 2020. And we'd all be living the high bragging life from our rocking chairs in the South of Frannie's blueberry patch.

As Westy notes, the world isn't perfect and the Faeries will see Irwin logging tough minutes from February until the Nucks are eliminated from playoffs.... again.

Kent- Matt Irwin isn't gonna give you a ton of minutes, and it's likely he's playing a bigger role in Abbotsford than in Vancouver, but another hard working rearguard with experience is a bonus. The former BCHL Nanaimo Clipper will be looked at for a leadership role in either location. With Collin Delia heading out to Winnipeg, earning a one year deal as Connor Hellebuyck's backup following a solid season in the AHL and some decent work with a handful of games for the Canucks, that opened a spot that Sawchenko hopes to fill. It's been an long road to the NHL for Zach, who played seven games for the San Jose Sharks in 2021-22. He spent a ton of time in the ECHL for the Sharks, and he is being looked at as a project, one that the Canucks goaltending gurus can develop into another solid piece of the puzzle. I would think a lot would have to go wrong to see Sawchenko see NHL time this season, but the organization's depth in the crease is encouraging.

Markus - Irwin is a textbook bottom-pair guy. I think something like an Irwin-Myers pair, when sheltered, could be pretty decent. He could even maybe be a 7/8 if a Wolanin or Hirose shines in camp. Good add. Don't know much about the goalie, but I just hope he's competent.

Beggsy - The Canucks signed Victoria-native Matt Irwin so that Markus had an Island boy to cheer for on the Canucks. Congrats Markus!

In terms of Sawchenko, in a perfect world, he's in the ECHL next year because all of Nikita Tolopio, Spencer Martin and Arturs Silovs look stellar from the get-go.

6- One of the things the Canucks need to improve on is developing talent in their system, and one of the bright spots from last season was rewarded with a two year deal as the Canucks signed Tristen Nielsen to a two year ELC.

Westy - Nielsen put up good numbers in his second year on the farm. It would great to get a another center that can move up in a couple years...if the Nucks can trade Miller

jimmi - Be a wonderful story if a northern BC boy makes good in the big leagues. Even better if it happens while playing for the Nucks.

Kent- A huge factor in the Canucks' lack of success in the Jim Benning era was their inability to develop talent at the AHL level. In order for this team to become competitive again, draft picks have to turn into guys that go on to play a role with the team, and the Canucks see something in Tristen Nielsen that suggests this could be the start of this process. Nielsen was a solid two-way performer in Abbotsford, and he's been rewarded with an ELC that's going to give him a shot at challenging Nils Aman for that 4th line C position. He's a BC kid, and no stranger to the area, having played for the WHL Vancouver Giants. This is another sign the team is recovering from the Benningpocalypse, and one we should hope to see repeated with some of the other farmhands.

Markus - Nielsen seems cool. in the bigger picture, I'm glad the farm system seems to be doing its job and producing respectable tweener (and better) talent. After the weirdo situation in Utica, it's nice to see the AHL actually be useful.

Beggsy - Alex Burrows 2.0 LETS GOOOOOOO.

7- And on Sunday, the Canucks locked in another piece on defence, re-signing Akito Hirose to a 2 year deal.

Westy - I hope this guy can make quick strides to play on the 3rd pairing. He looked good in the small amount of games he played. I wonder the philosophy of this coaching staff when it comes to playing youngsters at the start of the year.

jimmi - Hirose has already been described as fleet-footed, which could result in quick strides. I'm just happy to see the Nucks focusing on the D-corps. So we don't have to.

Kent- Hirose played 7 games for the Canucks at the end of the season after signing as a free agent following the end of his NCAA career with Minnesota State, and it was striking how mature and NHL-ready he appeared out of the gate. It reminds me of the way Chris Tanev stepped in and became a huge part of the Canucks D back in the day, and while they may not play the same style, if the Canucks have another Tanev-type win through the NCAA free agency pipeline, that would be a huge win for them. It's a good deal for both player and team, two way this season and one way the next, but if we see more of what we got a glimpse of in April from Hirose, expect to see him in Vancouver more than Abbotsford this season.

Markus - I really liked what I saw out of this guy last year. I like the skating and puck moving ability, and if they didn't sign so many defenders, I'd like his odds of being on the opening night roster. I think he has serious upside, so I'm looking forward to him either winning a spot, or being a foundational piece in Abbotsford.

Beggsy - Hirose vs. Wolanin vs. Rathbone vs. Brisebois vs. Irwin.

Lots of dudes fighting for the left side spot on the third pairing. An interesting battle for the hardcore fans of this team. I think Wolanin has the leg up but I could see Hirose making the team out of camp.

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