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

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

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

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

5:00PM PST

Sportsnet Pacific

The wagon is rollin' yet again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINEUPS

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

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Pius Suter

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

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Philip Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Sam Lafferty

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Andrei Kuzmenko

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

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson -- Roope Hintz -- Joe Pavelski

Jamie Benn -- Wyatt Johnston -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mason Marchment -- Matt Duchene -- Tyler Seguin

Craig Smith -- Radek Faksa -- Sam Steel

Ryan Suter -- Miro Heiskanen

Esa Lindell -- Jani Hakanpaa

Thomas Harley -- Nils Lundkvist

Scott Wedgewood

Matt Murray

Scratched: Ty Dellandrea, Joel Hanley

Injured: Jake Oettinger (lower body)

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

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

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

Wow! Who saw the Nucks going on a 5 game win streak to push Bedard far away?

Besides, everyone. But other than them, probably everyone else too.

Anyhow... now that team tank is off the treads and partying down on 21 Straight Win Street, we can cheer this 5th consecutive win. Even if CB goes to CBJ for 4 years of exile.

Here we are... it's 2022 all over again. New coach bump. Nucks pushing hard to make a wild card play. And falling short. Not saying they'll fall short, finish 23rd and pick 11th. Not that at all. Probably pick 12th.

They have a large gap to cover - only 99.999% victories can help assure a possible spot at the wild card table.

How tough is it really at this point... let's use graphs and arrows and stuff.

Not that far to Winterpeg - start walking now!

Anyhow, we're or just me is getting ahead of themselves. Let's review this impressive win over the Central's best team.

Great start for the ROG-ladites. JT gets his 1st B-day point of the game early in the 1st. No, not on the PK. It's his birthday, not Xmas.

1-zip Nucks. And game thread expectations are going up.

Great first on the scoreboard and yet so many little things to work on.

It's funny how my expectations of this team seem so much higher than the record they have produced.

Westy

Then, not making it up, Nucks 2nd unit gets a goal! Ok, not that surprising - but surprisingly, Kuz, the goal getter was on the 2nd unit. 33rd goal of the season. Bess with his 1st of 3 apples.

2-zip Nucks after 1. All going to plan.

Interrupted by an unscheduled tire fire event 40 seconds into the 2nd.

Terrible back check by Canuck forwards and missed coverage leads to quick Stars goal

Westy

Check.

“Terrible” implies there was at least some back check…

Rob Scott

Doesn't matter.

The almost-but-not-quite playoff bound Nucks get the 2-goal lead back against the grain, against the run, the flow of play, with a Beau goal.

3-2 Nucks after 2 - because Benn and Nucking PK and stuff.

Doesn't matter.

Because early in the 3rd, we should have known this was a guaranteed Nucking win. How?

Brise has an amazing Nucking record. Every time he's scored, the Nucks win! Fact. No, really.

The fallen Stars push back a bit in the 3rd, but bubbly Demmers is back and stealing pucks.

And the birthday boy is putting the icing on his birthday game cake.

JT puts the Stars come back on the plane. Nucks win 5-2. For the 5th straight game, it's a WIN!!!

Brock had a 3 point night - 300 career points. We're happy Sith-Trader didn't send him away when he had the no-chance to in the past year.

Big night for Beggsy's fav D-man in hockey - or maybe just after Huggie. Good to see Brise rise to the top of the Nucking D single goal pantheon, finally.

ROG Winning Vid

2 Johns on the mic, on the amazing Brise through to victory.


GAME STATS

SOG FO% PP PIM HITS BLKS GVA
Stars
DAL
27 56% 1/3 8 26 10 6
Canucks
VAN
19 44% 1/3 8 23 14 10

PLAYER STATS (Good Stats too!)

# Forwards GP G A P P +/- S PIM PIM SOG HITS BLKS GVA TKA FO% TOI PP TOI SH TOI PP GW
6 B. Boeser 0 3 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 100 17:15 4:18 --:-- 0
8 C. Garland 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 14:21 1:20 --:-- 0
9 J.T. Miller 1 1 2 2 2 3 2 3 5 0 0 0 45 18:46 4:17 1:28 0
15 S. Dries 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 1 2 0 0 75 11:29 1:13 0:47 0
34 P. Di Giuseppe 1 0 1 1 2 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 13:05 --:-- 0:46 0
40 E. Pettersson 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 2 23 22:05 4:03 2:34 0
72 A. Beauvillier 1 0 1 1 1 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 15:22 1:05 0:02 0
81 D. Joshua 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 1 0 0 14:01 --:-- 1:38 0
88 N. Aman 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 43 13:56 --:-- 1:35 0
91 V. Kravtsov 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 10:25 0:43 --:-- 0
92 V. Podkolzin 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 11:32 0:10 --:-- 0
96 A. Kuzmenko 1 0 1 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 18:00 4:22 0:03 1
# Defense GP G A P P +/- S PIM PIM SOG HITS BLKS GVA TKA FO% TOI PP TOI SH TOI PP GW
43 Q. Hughes 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 4 0 0 3 0 24:09 4:06 1:33 0
44 K. Burroughs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 2 2 0 18:25 --:-- 1:01 0
47 N. Juulsen 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 1 0 17:22 --:-- 1:40 0
55 G. Brisebois 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 16:01 0:10 2:04 0
57 T. Myers 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 20:41 0:41 2:34 0
86 C. Wolanin 0 1 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 18:54 1:17 0:03 0
# Goalies GP REC GA SV SA S EV PP SH SAVE-SHOTS SV% PIM TOI GAA
35 T. Demko -- 25 27 19–20 4–5 2–2 25–27 .926 0 59:44


ROGTORIOUS PRESSING

Brock talking the right way about practice making perfect - or pretty close.

Brise performing his excited Kuz impersonation.

RikTok, looking to block his NM Interim position - maybe as far as next November.

With this season's best 5th straight win under their home jerseys, Nucks are off to the desert to face the red hot Yotes in the league's most intimidating 5,000 seat arena - the Mullet Dome.

There's so much to play for, desert dogs are nipping at the heels of Nucking faint hope - just 2 points behind. Exciting!

Is it either or time already?

Let's find out.

Which Dream Do You Want? (can pick only one - NM has no budget for multi-dream polls)

VANCOUVER CANUCKS (28-32-5) vs DALLAS STARS (37-17-13)

7:00 PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: SN PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650

I'm back. Try to contain your excitement, eh? And as long as we're talking about muted responses, let's talk a bit about the Vancouver Canucks. As with every other dream that involves the Canucks, the hopes that they could somehow stay relevant in the chase to the basement and a legitimate shot at winning the draft lottery and the golden ticket that is Connor Bedard, it's gone.

In a scenario that was both worst case and yet most likely, the Canucks have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, including a season high 4 game winning streak. They're 5-1 since the last times these two teams met 15 days ago, and while the Dallas Stars indeed have a lot to play for, sitting just one point behind Vegas for first place in the Western Conference and home ice advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Canucks are playing for pride and I guess the consistency of being below average? I just don't understand, even after 14 years of covering this team, why they do what they do, and I'm not alone. I would imagine that there are people in the organization that are thankful for the Arizona Coyotes, because there'd likely be more focus on how dysfunctional they are.

Alas, with the dream having died, we may as well strap ourselves in, put on that "this is actually fine, and I enjoy Vancouver Canucks hockey" face we've perfected over the past years, and enjoy some of the good things. I dare say there's not a person out there who could have seen Andrei Kuzmenko having the impact on this team that he's had when the Canucks landed the much-desired KHL free agent this past summer. While we get the whole "he's not an actual rookie" thing, he's hands down the best first year player in the league this season and it's not even close. This is a guy who does nothing but score HUGE goals, every damn night.

We're also getting treated to the emergence of Elias Pettersson into the upper echelon of NHL stars. He's shattered his personal best in goals, assists and points already, and he's done it being an incredibly consistent two way player. Quinn Hughes continues to develop into the kind of rearguard this team's not had for a long time, if ever, and you can't help but be inspired by the way a finally healthy Thatcher Demko has played since his return. Admit it, you were as concerned as we were about how he played before the injury, but he's been stellar since coming back. Sure, there's an argument to be made that this team's record would have been better if they'd gotten better goaltending this season, but it is what it is, and they are what they are.

It's still too early to tell if the Canucks are truly better with Rick Tocchet behind the bench, or if this is just the same new coach bump we saw last season when Bruce Boudreau took over from Travis Green. They have been getting a little better defensively, as we saw in the games against Toronto and Ottawa, and have only allowed more than three goals against once in the last two weeks, in the 5-4 win over... the Dallas Stars. Yes, they're playing some subpar teams the rest of the way, but the improved defensive play is encouraging if it can remain consistent.

LINEUPS

According to nhl.com, this is what we can expect in tonight's tussle:

Stars projected lineup

Jason Robertson -- Roope Hintz -- Joe Pavelski

Jamie Benn -- Wyatt Johnston -- Evgenii Dadonov

Mason Marchment -- Max Domi -- Ty Dellandrea

Joel Kiviranta -- Radek Faksa -- Fredrik Olofsson

Miro Heiskanen -- Colin Miller

Esa Lindell -- Jani Hakanpaa

Ryan Suter -- Joel Hanley

Matt Murray

Jake Oettinger

Scratched: Nils Lundkvist

Injured: Luke Glendening (lower body), Tyler Seguin (lower body), Scott Wedgewood (lower body)

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Anthony Beauvillier

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Nils Aman -- Conor Garland

Vitali Kravtsov -- Sheldon Dries -- Vasily Podkolzin

Quinn Hughes -- Noah Juulsen

Guillaume Brisebois -- Tyler Myers

Christian Wolanin -- Kyle Burroughs

Thatcher Demko

Collin Delia

Scratched: Jack Studnicka

Injured: Filip Hronek (upper body), Ethan Bear (face), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ankle), Travis Dermott (undisclosed), Ilya Mikheyev (torn ACL), Tanner Pearson (hand), Tucker Poolman (undisclosed)

It's a little remarkable that the Canucks have managed to put together this run when you look at how many of their regular defencemen are injured, but then again, maybe it's not. Ethan Bear (he with the face injury, according to the nhl dot com) has been practising in a non-contact jersey but should be returning to the lineup soon. Given the chatter about Tocchet expecting more from Brock Boeser of late, a game against Matt Murray seems like just the thing to do it. You probably shouldn't be shocked if Boeser rings up a hatty tonight, is what I'm trying to say.

The Stars have been rolling along well in their own right, though one of their losses in their last 10 came to the Canucks, in that 5-4 OT Canucks win. The Stars have been scoring an average of 4.9 per game over their last 10, so if Demko's not on his A game tonight, it'll be a long one at the Rog.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We've featured them a couple times earlier this season, and the latest release from ELECTRIC CALLBOY doesn't disappoint. It's stupid, infectiously so, and the perfect theme song for this stupid team going on a stupid run to finish off this stupid season. All aboard!

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