Injuries are beginning to mount alongside the losses. The Canucks face more adversity as they start a back to back with an almost 840 mile trip in between.
Vancouver Canucks (13-5-1) vs Seattle Kraken (8-8-5)
CLIMATE PLEDGE ARENA, SEATTLE, WAS
The underwhelming feeling that followed the loss in Denver on Wednesday night is nothing compared to the oh so familiar feeling of "Dear god, what now?" when it comes to injuries the Canucks have been dealing with over the last few days. With Carson Soucy and Pius Suter now listed on injured reserve, requiring the Canucks to put in a call to Abbotsford for forwards to bolster the beleaguered lineup.
It's not all bad news, thankfully.
It was looking as though they wouldn't have either of them available for tonight's contest, but it's not just the guys who are out that give cause for concern. Whether it's an injury he's playing through or an illness, something is clearly not right with Elias Pettersson for these past few games. He's out there, and sure he's getting points here and there, but he definitely isn't the same EP40 we saw earlier in the campaign.
We could go on about the frustration that was Wednesday's game against the Avalanche (and believe me, there's an f'ing list of shit I could talk about), but much like the team themselves, the focus must stay on the task at hand, and with tonight's contest the first of five straight against Pacific Division opponents, these are must win games if the Canucks want to keep the distance they've built between themselves and their rivals.
A chance for payback is always good, and when you look at that 4-3 loss to the Kraken a few days ago, it's definitely a game where the Canucks deserved a better fate. Bad bounces, a goaltender playing far above his average for the season, and some questionable calls made for a frustrating loss, but that can all be erased tonight with a win. Fatigue will definitely be an issue though, as the Canucks have played a lot of hockey over the past three weeks, and with a jaunt down to San Jose tomorrow night, it's definitely something to keep in mind.
One thing they'll have to do is play smart. Avoiding the penalty box is going to ensure they can roll all four lines and keep the top six from getting burnt out. They have the luxury of a backup goaltender they can rely on, and we'll see Casey DeSmith in the crease for one of these two contests. Finishing the month on a high note as they head to December is important, and with the Vegas Golden Knights and first place in the Pacific still within striking distance, getting on a roll will help that in a big way.
Canucks projected lineup
Sam Lafferty -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev
Anthony Beauvillier -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser
Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland
Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Nils Aman -- Nils Hoglander
Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek
Mark Friedman -- Tyler Myers
Ian Cole -- Cole McWard
Scratched: Andrei Kuzmenko, Akito Hirose
Injured: Pius Suter (undisclosed), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)
Kraken projected lineup
Jared McCann -- Matty Beniers -- Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz -- Alexander Wennberg -- Brandon Tanev
Eeli Tolvanen -- Yanni Gourde -- Oliver Bjorkstrand
Tye Kartye -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Kailer Yamamoto
Vince Dunn -- Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak -- Will Borgen
Brian Dumoulin -- Justin Schultz
Scratched: Jaycob Megna
Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body), Philipp Grubauer (undisclosed)
Well, some might be surprised by this, but if you are, you haven't really been paying attention to how Rick Tocchet runs things, as we'll see a pretty significant lineup shuffle, as well as Andrei Kuzmenko listed as a healthy scratch tonight. We knew there was going to be regression after his incredible debut last season, and if the Canucks had been truly struggling this season, this might have happened sooner. This is clearly an attempt to send a message to both player and team that things cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the stars, so watch for a response both tonight, and tomorrow when Kuzmenko returns to the lineup.
Will these lines hold? Who knows. I'm all here for the team actually trying to address issues instead of just shuffling along when things obviously need a shakeup.
GAME DAY CHATTER
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Some more Japanese metal weirdness for you. With 'Pardon Me, I Have To Go Now', this is HANABIE. You're welcome.
Enjoy the game. Go Canucks Go! Make sure to check out the post game wrap up and then we'll do this all again tomorrow.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS (31-33-5) vs VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (43-21-6)
7:00 PM PST
ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC
TV: SN PACIFIC. RADIO: SN650
I know it may come across as a tad jarring, especially coming from this writer, but I think the Canucks might have suffered from poor goaltending this season. Now, that's not to say that Thatcher Demko was a beast in the games he played before getting injured, because that's easy to disprove, but Spencer Martin was really in over his head, man.
Sure, there's few goalies that could have thrived with the porous Canucks defence in front of them, but there were so many losses where they just needed a save, and didn't get one. And while Demko had a rough start, and it was likely due to playing hurt, he's almost back to a .500 record, and is sure to pass that, leaving Martin as the only goalie the Canucks played this year with a losing record. I'm not suggesting he's the only reason this has been such a brutal season, but a healthy Thatcher Demko might have had them in contention for one of the playoff spots in the West. Add in the much improved defensive play, and while I still think the sample size is small and could just as easily be similar to the Bruce Bump last season, the Canucks are a much better team at the moment than they've been this season.
And it's that impressive defensive play that has me feeling, well... positive. Yeah, it's weird, and I still can't shake the feeling it's just going to be more of the same next season, but after the way the Canucks were able to grind out a win against LA on Saturday night, heading into tonight's contest against Vegas isn't nearly as frightening as it should be. Instead of a battle between one of the best in the West against the lowly Canucks, it's two teams with 8-2-0 records in their last ten games, waiting to see who blinks first.
That's not a diss against Vegas, just a recognition of the Canucks playing better since the coaching change, and how they've fared against Western Conference opponents. Sure, Vegas begrudgingly gets credit for being as good as they are in spite of the number of injuries they've had to deal with this season, but seeing them get bounced in the first round shouldn't come as a shock to anyone when it happens.
Courtesy of nhl.com, this is what you should expect to see tonight:
Golden Knights projected lineup
Scratched: Ben Hutton
Canucks projected lineup
Looks like it's Studnicka and Burroughs out and Kravtsov and Brisebois back in tonight. Demko is the starter after a solid performance from Collin Delia on Sunday against Anaheim. THe Golden Knights choosing to start Jonathan Quick is certainly a choice, especially given the way he's played against Vancouver over the past couple years. We'll just let them figure that out for themselves, though.
GAME DAY CHATTER
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
If you're at all familiar with German metal, you know the big name bands: KREATOR, SODOM, DESTRUCTION, TANKARD, among others, but a band that dates back to the early days, and like the others is still going strong is HOLY MOSES. Featuring vocalist Sabina Klassen, who sounds as vicious as ever, they continue to produce kickass, aggressive thrash worthy of a listen. Check out 'Cult Of The Machine' from 'Invisible Queen', which hits stores in April.
Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go.