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!

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!

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!

The Canucks, with Elias Pettersson leading the way, are on an absolute tear through the Eastern Conference right now, and this afternoon they have a chance to put the cherry on their first ever NY/NJ road sweep with a win over their expansion cousins in Buffalo.

CANUCKS (28-11-3) at BUFFALO SABRES (18-20-4)

KEYBANK CENTER, BUFFALO, NY

1:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET

For the past few seasons, we've been frustrated as writers trying to come up with new and innovative ways to tell you that the Canucks were awful. Now, we're being put to the test trying to wrap our heads around a potential Cup run. It's a good problem to have, but we'll do our best to not get cocky about anything, lest we upset our betters. It's important, as we have been reminded this week, that we as fans know our place and keep our bloody mouths shut.

Heh.

Heading into this road trip, it had all the bearings of a win some/lose some kind of jaunt, especially after the inauspicious start to this seven game road swing in St Louis. Since then, the Canucks, faced with a gauntlet of playoff quality teams have rattled off four straight wins. And each of these wins just absolutely ring like a team making a statement that the era of soft, ineffective hockey is over in Vancouver.

With a management team that has literally done what Jim Benning told us he could do, and failed miserably at, to a coaching staff that has gotten a complete buy-in from the entire room to transform how they play the game, the Vancouver Canucks went from a potential Draft Lottery winner to a potential Stanley Cup threat in a year and a half. You know, just like Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin did in Pittsburgh.

It seems like every week there's something that's happening with the Canucks that is making the league take notice, and with the four wins over the last week against some of the best in the East, it's been the play of the reunited Lotto Line, most specifically Elias Pettersson, leading the way.

Over the last month, it was the Canucks bottom 6 forwards leading the way, but on this trip, it's been the team's best players at their absolute best. Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser have terrorized the opposition since being reunited a week ago in New Jersey, combining for 13 goals and 12 assists.

And how about the offensive contributions from the back end on this trip? 3 goals and 12 assists as the Canucks defence, led by Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek prove the old adage: The best defence is a good offence. It's been production on a scale we haven't seen in a long time in this market, perhaps ever.

This brings them to Buffalo, taking on a Sabres team that find themselves in familiar territory. It seems like every season, they head into October with a roster that on paper should at least have them competitive, and hope that better days lie ahead. And every season, by this time, they find themselves seven points back of a playoff spot, and more likely to have a shot at a top five draft pick next season than hosting a playoff game at KeyBank.

If there's a plan in Buffalo, it's not clear apart from maybe they're playing the long con and they'll surprise everyone next year. But as for this season, this should be, especially the way the Canucks are playing right now, a long afternoon in Buffalo for the hosts. But hey, don't feel bad for them. They've still got the Bills.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was written in wing sauce and scrawled on the underside of a broken table in the parking lot at Highmark Stadium. Or it was nhl dot com, I think...

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

Casey DeSmith


Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Linus Karlsson, Noah Juulsen

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

Sabres projected lineup

Casey Mittelstadt -- Tage Thompson -- Alex Tuch


JJ Peterka -- Dylan Cozens -- Jack Quinn


Jordan Greenway -- Peyton Krebs -- Zach Benson


Eric Robinson -- Zemgus Girgensons -- Kyle Okposo

Mattias Samuelsson -- Rasmus Dahlin

Owen Power -- Erik Johnson

Ryan Johnson -- Connor Clifton

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Devon Levi

Scratched: Victor Olofsson, Henri Jokiharju

Injured: Jeff Skinner (upper body)

After a solid performance against the Islanders on Tuesday night, it's nice to see Casey DeSmith rewarded with another start today. Load management, baby! Other than that, it's status quo as the Canucks continue to stay healthy and all that. The Sabres could be without Tage Thompson today, as he's been dealing with an injury and we likely won't know til closer to game time if he's good to go.

GAME DAY CHATTER

Something to keep in mind for today's contest.

Is that good? It seems good, but we wouldn't want to come off sounding cocky...

Can't imagine who that might have been, but my guess is some guy in marketing named Dancesco Squaquilini...

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

With 2024 set to see some seriously kickass releases in the metal realm, New Orleans thrashers EXHORDER have thrown down the gauntlet early ahead of their album release in March with 'Year Of The Goat'. The first single off 'Defectum Omnium', due March 8th worldwide on Nuclear Blast Records, this is one of the best tracks they've done since Pantera stole their sound off 'Slaughter In The Vatican' and 'The Law'. Crank this one and enjoy a cold brew before some Saturday afternoon Canucks hockey!

Enjoy the game, everyone! Go Canucks Go!

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!

Seven games in eleven nights. It just refuses to get easier for the Canucks as they head off on one of their longest and toughest road trips of the 23/24 season, starting tonight in St Louis.

CANUCKS (24-10-3) at ST LOUIS (18-17-1)

ENTERPRISE CENTER, ST LOUIS, MO

5:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

While it wasn't without its warts, the Canucks still came out with a better overall effort on the 2024 side of the end of the year, than what we saw against Philadelphia a few days earlier. I'm not particularly thrilled with the second period we saw from them, after what was probably the most dominant first period performance they've shown us all year. They took their foot off the pedal and allowed the Senators a whiff of optimism in a game where they had no business doing that, and that will surely be addressed.

Another thing that had to be addressed was the injury in the first period to Phillip DiGiusepe. It has to be frustrating for him, having just made it back into the lineup only to pull something and miss the rest of the game after getting an opportunity on the Miller/Boeser line.

Karlsson will get into the lineup right away, with Nils Aman also getting back in on the fourth line.

These teams are meeting for the second time this season, the first one being a lopsided 5-0 Canucks win at the end of October. The Blues are 5-3-0 under new head coach Drew Bannister after parting ways with Craig Berube last month. They're still in tough to try and claw their way back into a playoff spot, but losing the last two, while the Oilers and Kraken have won their last six and five games respectively, have allowed those two rivals to leapfrog them as they chase down the Arizona Coyotes for the final Wild Card slot in the Western Conference.

LINEUPS

The following lineup was spray painted on the Arch, and also, apparently, the ol' nhl dot com thingy...

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: Andrei Kuzmenko, Mark Friedman

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

Blues projected lineup

Pavel Buchnevich -- Robert Thomas -- Jordan Kyrou

Brandon Saad -- Brayden Schenn -- Jake Neighbours

Alexey Toropchenko -- Kevin Hayes -- Kasperi Kapanen

Nathan Walker -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Sammy Blais

Nick Leddy -- Colton Parayko

Torey Krug -- Matthew Kessel

Marco Scandella -- Scott Perunovich

Jordan Binnington

Joel Hofer

Scratched: Nikita Alexandrov, Tyler Tucker

Injured: Justin Faulk (lower body)

So it looks as though Andrei Kuzmenko is back in the doghouse again. It also appears Sam Lafferty is back on the first line, and Pius Suter's strong play since his return has been rewarded with a promotion to the second line with Miller and Boeser. No changes on defence, and it'll be Demko versus noted pissbaby and lover of getting Michigan'd, Jordan Binnington for the Blues in net tonight. I so wanna see Hoglander try to do it on him to see if his bullshit tough talk is for real. Honestly, I think it would be the best thing in the world if teams tried to do this to him every time they played the Blues, because fuck that guy, man.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Today in the "Holy shit am I getting old" department, we give you a classic album that was released on this date 40 years ago today. Fresh off their 1983 release 'Screaming For Vengeance' that saw the band break huge in North America, Judas Priest followed it up with an album that doesn't get enough praise in their catalog, IMO. A solid banger from beginning to end that sees both the twin axe attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing at their best and Rob Halford cementing his legacy as THE Metal God, we're gonna give you a double shot today, with the two video releases from this album: 'Freewheel Burning' and 'Love Bites'. Happy 40th to 'Defenders Of The Faith' from JUDAS PRIEST.

Enjoy the game tonight, folks! Go Canucks Go!

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