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!

Another comeback win as the boys in blue & green blew the roof off Rogers Arena Wednesday night. Can they build on a dominant performance and head off to Edmonton with a 2-0 series lead?

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS EDMONTON OILERS (CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 1-0)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

RADIO: SN650 TV: TNT, truTV, MAX, SN, SN360, CBC, TVAS

For every talking head that spent their time complaining how boring the first round series between the Canucks and Nashville was, the feeling that this was somehow the Canucks fault was blown out of the water with that game on Wednesday night. And while Nashville's head coach is probably still whining that 'the better team didn't win' that series, the Canucks gave the Oilers, and the hockey world a refresher course on what this team was built for.

And half way through the 2nd period, when Edmonton stretched their lead to 4-1, if you weren't watching the game, it would be natural to assume that the Oilers that ran roughshod through the NHL after the hiring of Kris Knoblauch were simply doing to the Canucks what they did to the LA Kings in round one. If you were watching the game however, you'd have seen that the Oilers were extremely fortunate to be up at all, let alone by three goals.

And sure, there was an element of the Oilers sitting back a bit, but any attempts to push forward were being met by one of the better defensive performances this year by the Canucks, most notably by the jaw dropping stat of Connor McDavid being held shotless in the playoffs for the first time in his career. Throw in a now obviously injured Leon Draisaitl, and the way the Canucks absolutely abused the defence pairing of Cody Ceci and Darnell Nurse, and it would appear rumours of the Canucks imminent demise were indeed unfounded.

A lot has been said about how the Canucks are underdogs here. That the Oilers, vastly more experienced and talented, will continue on their roll towards a Cup berth. The Canucks meanwhile, as they've done all season long, refuse to buy into these narratives, and have continued making their doubters look foolish.

So with a healthy three goal lead, Arturs Silovs shut the door, the Canucks held the Oilers shotless for over 22 minutes, and the Canucks showed the hockey world they can still be dominant at 5 on 5, and the acquisitions of Elias Lindholm and Nikita Zadorov became even larger. Big Z has been an absolute force in the post-season for the Canucks, with another goal and solid defensive play. And Lindholm. along with linemates Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland were a threat all night, in addition to an outstanding performance in their own end.

The key here is more of the same. While the majority of pundits said that the Canucks domination of the Oilers during the regular season meant nothing, that the playoffs were a different beast and the Oilers a different team now. Wednesday showed that to be untrue, as the Canucks, sticking to the gameplan that they've used all season, and got the same result in the end. This team was built to neutralize teams like McDavid, Draisaitl and the Oilers, and if they can continue to keep Edmonton's fearsome power play off the ice, they'll be just fine. Unless of course, something happens that drastically alters things tonight...

Oh, boy. I'd say we should expect at least 5 Oilers PPs tonight. This is gonna be a tough one.

LINEUPS

Oilers projected lineup

Warren Foegele -- Connor McDavid -- Zach Hyman

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl -- Evander Kane

Dylan Holloway -- Ryan McLeod -- Corey Perry

Mattias Janmark -- Derek Ryan -- Connor Brown

Mattias Ekholm -- Evan Bouchard

Darnell Nurse -- Cody Ceci

Brett Kulak -- Vincent Desharnais

Stuart Skinner

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Philip Broberg, Jack Campbell, Sam Carrick, Ryan Fanti, Sam Gagner, Troy Stecher

Injured: Adam Henrique (undisclosed)

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

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole 

Arturs Silovs

Casey DeSmith

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

Injured: Thatcher Demko (undisclosed) 

So it's a game time decision, but all signs point to Draisaitl trying to play through whatever it is that's ailing him. Doesn't appear to be any other changes though we could see Sam Carrick fill in for Draisaitl if he can't go. No changes for the Canucks, and below we've got the list of Black Ace callups from the Abbotsford Canucks since they were eliminated from the AHL Playoffs Wednesday night.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Sometimes, metal gets a bad rap for being obsessed with the darker sides of existence, and to be fair, so much of the music lends itself to that. For me, it's a way to get the anger and frustration out of my system, but sometimes there's metal tracks that are just so wholesome and good you wanna share them. TEXAS TOAST CHAINSAW MASSACRE are a thrash band from Chicago who have a new album coming June 28th that you can get for free on their Bandcamp page! This is now my favourite song of all time, and it goes out to all the good boys and girls out there. This is 'I Wanna Pet Your Dog'. Crank it, take your dog for a nice pregame walk and then 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!

With the Division title in their grasp, and a chance at the Conference crown, the Canucks finish their home schedule against the Flames with a healthy Thatcher Demko in the crease tonight.

Vancouver Canucks (49-22-9) vs. Calgary Flames  (37-38-5)

7pm PDT; 10 p.m. ET

TV: Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet West

Radio: Sportsnet 650

50 wins. Wrap your heads around that one for a moment. Every single point gained of late has been an extra cherry on top of the sundae that has been this unexpected season. To get to 50 wins for just the third time in franchise history is beyond amazing. And while there's still a lot to be decided, it's hard to get mad at any missteps these guys make given the past few seasons of misery.

Now that's not to say they should get ahead of themselves. It's still possible for the Oilers to overtake them in Game 82 should the Canucks lose both games in regulation. Winning out could see them possibly snagging the top spot in the Western Conference, which is great for home ice in the first three rounds, but has you facing Vegas or LA in Round One instead of the preferable Nashville Predators. Not that the Preds are a pushover, they've had a hell of a turn around. But if the Canucks want to get on a roll, this is the best path for them, and letting Dallas and Edmonton deal with the other two doesn't hurt, either.

Tonight they'll meet a Calgary Flames team that once again failed to meet expectations, and wasted another year of prime Jacob Markstrom in the process. Getting Thatcher Demko back, healthy and rested for the playoffs should alleviate some of the fears y'all have been feeling heading into the post-season, and a fairly healthy team to start the playoffs is all we could hope for, really.

An OT loss tonight will clinch things for the Canucks, as they have the tiebreaker over the Oilers, and it'll help ensure they get that first round date with the Preds, too. I know we're not used to things going the Canucks way, but the Rutherford/Allvin/Tocchet era just doesn't do past narratives, I guess.

LINEUPS

Scrawled on a dumpster beside the Costco across the street from Rogers Arena, this lineup may also have appeared on the nhl dot com thingy...

Flames projected lineup

Martin Pospisil -- Nazem Kadri -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Yegor Sharangovich -- Mikael Backlund -- Andrew Mangiapane

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Connor Zary -- Dryden Hunt

Matt Coronato -- Kevin Rooney -- Adam Klapka

MacKenzie Weegar -- Daniil Miromanov

Oliver Kylington -- Rasmus Andersson

Ilya Solovyov -- Brayden Pachal

Jacob Markstrom

Dustin Wolf

Scratched: A.J. Greer, Dennis Gilbert, Walker Duehr, Nikita Okhotiuk

Injured: Blake Coleman (upper body), Joel Hanley (undisclosed)

Canucks projected lineup

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

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Vasily Podkolzin -- Teddy Blueger -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Phillip Di Giuseppe

Injured: None

No real changes for the Canucks apart from the return of Demko, and man is it nice to see that injured list empty heading into Game One next week. Markstrom will go for the Flames, as we get to see Andrei Kuzmenko one last time this season. If the Canucks check him the way they handled Leon Draisaitl Saturday night, it's gonna be a long one for the Flames.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Although I'm sure you don't need much to get your pulse racing right now, this 3:00 ripper from BAT will get you rarin' to go for the post season! Off their new album 'Under The Crooked Claw' on Nuclear Blast Records, this is 'Streetbanger'!

Enjoy the game, folks! Go Canucks Go!

It's that time of year again, where an entire fan base is forced to consider how things affect the Leafs. It's also Hockey Day in Canada and an anniversary of sorts for Nucks Misconduct.

CANUCKS (30-11-4) at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (22-13-8)

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

Truth be told, I'd be totally fine with the Oilers or Flames getting the Saturday game when the Leafs come West. Anyway, there's the prerequisite bitching, because Leafs fans will be scouring for evidence of it. Far be it from us to be less than gracious hosts.

The Canucks returned from that epic seven game road trip and got into a fun one against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. The game had a lot of intensity, and for a first game back, it was a hell of a lot better than we expected. So often that first game at home is a bit of a let down, but the Canucks battled against a solid Arizona squad, addressed some serious bullshit from the Coyotes "tough guy" and came out with another regulation win against a Western Conference opponent.

And in case you missed this yesterday...

And that was for this display of sportsmanship:

Absolute chickenshittery from the NHL's penalty minute leader O'Brien. 5 ungloved punches on a guy who didn't have his hands up over a clean hit? Pure garbage. And for the on ice officials to deem that "roughing", then follow the setup with the punchline of a fine and no suspension for a game who came off the bench, making no effort to get involved in the play, and attack a guy? Just brutal.

Fortunately, sometimes asshats like O'Brien get what's coming to them. I would suggest he re-think going after Nikita Zadorov next time these teams meet, because that was a pretty one-sided tilt.

Anyway, it's on to the second game of this five game homestand, the annual royal visit from the Leafs. Toronto's struggling a bit this season, with goaltending being a constant issue and inconsistent play from guys not named Nylander or Matthews. A team that some had as a genuine contender in the East at the start of the season is battling to stay afloat in the East, with a number of teams nipping at their heels. Pittsburgh is a mere 4 points back of the 3rd place Leafs, but just three out of a wild card spot.

The last time these teams met was one of the very few games this season where the Canucks didn't show up to play, and you can bet that Rick Tocchet is going to be reminding his players of that fact.

Since the 5-2 loss in November, the Canucks have gone 20-8-3, and are an impressive 15-4-1 at home. They've had the upper hand of late against Toronto, winning 6 of the last 10 meetings, and after an emotional win over the Coyotes, expect them to be fired up to keep the Leafs fans in the crowd quiet tonight.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was scrawled on the back of a tractor trailer unit that crashed into an overpass on the TransCanada Highway... or maybe it was nhl dot com.

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Pontus Holmberg -- Auston Matthews -- Mitchell Marner

Tyler Bertuzzi -- John Tavares -- William Nylander

Matthew Knies -- Max Domi -- Calle Jarnkrok

Bobby McMann -- David Kampf -- Noah Gregor

Morgan Rielly -- T.J. Brodie

Simon Benoit -- Jake McCabe

Mark Giordano -- Timothy Liljegren

Martin Jones

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Nicholas Robertson, William Lagesson, Conor Timmins

Injured: Ryan Reaves (lower body), Joseph Woll (ankle), John Klingberg (hip)

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Linus Karlsson

Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Probably no changes from Thursday, apart from the possibility that we see Andrei Kuzmenko back in the press box after another disappointing outfit. If he's out, expect Linus Karlsson to be in, and Sam Lafferty get bumped up to his slot.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Another reason for the Canucks' turn around this season? Massively better team on the road than seasons past.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Prolific Finnish speed merchants NECRO WEASEL are back with a new one, and it absolutely fuckin' rips! From 'A Brave New World', this is 'They Want Us To Suffer'. Check them out on Bandcamp, eh?

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Leafs Suck! Go Canucks Go!

Coming off a massive win in New Jersey as they continue this tough seven game road trip, the Canucks now face a back to back against the New Yorks, with the Eastern Conference leading Rangers first up. Time for a little payback, perhaps?

CANUCKS (25-11-3) at NEW YORK RANGERS (26-10-2)

MADISON SQUARE GARDENS, NEW YORK, NY

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

Saturday's win in New Jersey was far more than just an important two points for the Vancouver Canucks. Bouncing back from a disappointing loss in St Louis, as well as a massive confidence boost to get their first win in New Jersey since 2013 sets them up rather well for a battle against the Eastern Conference leaders, the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are just a point ahead of the Canucks in the overall standings, and a regulation win will see Vancouver leapfrog them and move into 2nd overall, as well as getting them to within one point of the Western Conference leaders, the Winnipeg Jets.

The last time these teams met was in October, as the tail end of a back to back at home for the Canucks. The game was as billed, two of the NHL's top teams in the standings going toe to toe, and it appeared to be headed for a shootout to decide it when a brutal non-call in OT in the Rangers favour directly led to the OT winner from K'Andre Miller.

That game also featured a moment that will live in Canucks history:

The Canucks have gotten a massive contribution from the rest of their Dcore this season compared to the last few, and they'll likely need it again tonight against the Rangers. And as Jeff Paterson wrote over at Canucks Army, the goalies aren't the only ones who could use a rest. Defensive load management should be something this team is engaging in the rest of the way.

This game is another measuring stick for the Canucks, and having acquitted themselves well in a number of these tests so far this season, we're eager to see how they match up in the last opportunity before they meet for a rematch of the 1994 Finals. Can you imagine? Also, skate jersey full time in the playoffs, please, including a white version. Do it already!

LINEUPS

Written in green ooze on the underside of a manhole cover in the Bronx, was this potential lineup for tonight. Rumour has it, you can also find it on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Elias Pettersson -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Ilya Mikheyev -- Pius Suter -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadorov -- Ian Cole

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson

Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Blake Wheeler

Artemi Panarin -- Vincent Trocheck -- Alexis Lafreniere

Brennan Othmann -- Nick Bonino -- Jonny Brodzinski

Will Cuylle -- Barclay Goodrow -- Jimmy Vesey

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

K'Andre Miller -- Jacob Trouba

Erik Gustafsson -- Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Jonathan Quick 

Scratched: Zac Jones

Injured: Kaapo Kakko (lower body), Filip Chytil (upper body), Tyler Pitlick (lower body)

Nikita Zadorov is back in after missing Saturday, but he'll be going into Juulsen's spot to skate with Ian Cole, and the pairing of Myers and Soucy remains for now. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see some shuffling to address the issues a team like the Rangers can give a team, though.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Well, so much for the load management. Shame, because Juulsen's been steadily improving since he came back from the stretch of 11 straight healthy scratches. I mean, there's not a lot to complain about right now, but he's earned his spot.

What a difference a year makes, eh?

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

What am I supposed to do here, not introduce you to a band called NEON CHICKEN? Of course I am, dammit. This Australian one man band released its debut EP last year entitled 'Industrial Slavery' and it's a solid slab of modern thrash with some serious guitar chops. Sure, a lot of these one person projects never add members and play live, but that's no reason to discount them. Silly name aside, this is a promising debut.

After a frustrating loss in St Louis, the Canucks have some issues to address with the top 6 and getting them back in gear. It's Saturday, so maybe it's time to roll with 6/49 and bring back the Lotto Line?

CANUCKS (24-11-3) at NEW JERSEY (21-14-1)

PRUDENTIAL CENTER, NEWARK, NJ

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, SN1

One of the great things about this year's version of the Canucks, is that games like Thursday's loss in St Louis have been rare this year. They're a little distressing, and something that needs to be nipped in the bud. Probably the two most glaring issues from that game were the Canucks losing a fucktillion faceoffs, and missing the net a fucktillion times. Making things easy for Jordan 'Where exactly were you three years ago today?' Binnington isn't something any team should do, lest the braintrust at Hockey Canada be fooled he's somehow supposed to lead Canada to glory at the upcoming World Cup Of Hockey next year.

So while the Bottom 6 continue to wreak havoc against their opponents, the top 6 have been alarmingly quiet. Yes, Elias Pettersson notched two earlier this week against the Ottawa Senators, but it's clear there's issues that are probably not just Andrei Kuzmenko's unwillingness to play a 200 foot game. The solution is simple: Like the rest of us on Saturdays, it's time to take a chance on 6/4(0)9 and reunite the Lotto line.

Yes, having the ability to roll four lines that can score was great while it lasted, but this is an adjustment that we know will work. And it may have the added bonus of giving the Canucks suddenly floundering power play the kick in the ass it needs. I'm not one of those guys who's gonna complain about J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser despite their struggles these past few games. And honestly, if you're still bitching and moaning about Miller, I wonder if you're truly watching his contributions to the games, because the Canucks are a better team this season because of how he's bought in to Rick Tocchet's plan. So let's throw their best forwards together, and put either Nils Hoglander or Sam Lafferty with Kuzmenko and Ilya Mikheyev, and force teams like the Devils to have to either have to focus on trying to deal with the speed and skill of the top 6, or risk spreading out so the third and fourth lines don't burn them.

This road trip is a tough one, and given the way this team has struggled against the Devils over the past few years, they're going to have to be air tight when it comes to errors in this game. There are a couple things that could work in the Canucks favour tonight though. The Devils were involved in a wild one against the Chicago Blackhawks last night, that saw 64 minutes in penalties and an open ice Scott Stevens special that left Connor Bedard with a fractured jaw.

They're also going with youngster Nico Daws in net after Vitek Vanecek got the win last night against Chicago. If the Canucks can get to Daws early and often, they'll give themselves a shot at securing a win, something they've managed just once in the last ten meetings with New Jersey.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was painted on the side of a barn in Old Bridge, NJ, but also may have been seen on nhl dot com...

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

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

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Linus Karlsson

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Andrei Kuzmenko

Injured: Phillip Di Giuseppe (lower body), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois
(concussion)

Devils projected lineup

Tyler Toffoli -- Jack Hughes -- Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula -- Nico Hischier -- Dawson Mercer

Curtis Lazar -- Michael McLeod -- Alexander Holtz

Brendan Smith -- Chris Tierney -- Nathan Bastian

Luke Hughes -- John Marino

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Simon Nemec

Colin Miller -- Kevin Bahl

Nico Daws

Vitek Vanecek

Scratched: Graeme Clarke

Injured: Dougie Hamilton (pectoral), Tomas Nosek (foot), Timo Meier (undisclosed), Ondrej Palat (lower body)

Not that we wish him any ill will, but we certainly wouldn't shed a tear if Jack Hughes was unable to go tonight. Hughes, who left last night's game against the Blackhawks and did not return, is the team's leading scorer. The injuries are starting to mount for the Devils as they battle to hang onto their wild card slot in the East.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Great news for the Canucks D core, and while he'll likely be a game time decision, it does mean that one of Ian Cole and Noah Juulsen will have to come out. Both have been playing well in their third pairing roles, especially Juulsen and the physicality he brings to the back end.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Since Jimmi and Westy seem to think that my inclusion of JUDAS PRIEST was the reason for the Canucks loss on Thursday (yeesh) I have decided to respond by a) shaking my head in their general direction, and b) upping the heaviness factor. While I feel bad for you when they subject you to the crap they post in here when I am not at the helm (to get a rise out of me more than anything else), today it's time to fight back. Bay Area bastards GHOUL are back with a new single as they prepare to hit the road with label mates NECROT and DEAD HEAT in support of MUNICIPAL WASTE over the next couple months.

'Noxious Concoctions' is their first new tune in a while, and one that if you're familiar with them at all, hits hard as hell. Make sure and check them (and a ton of other cool bands) out at Tankcrimes Records.

Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go!

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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