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

It's another Hughes family reunion as Quinn and the Canucks take on brothers Jack and Luke in a battle for Hughes family supremacy. Also, the New Jersey Devils are involved.

Vancouver Canucks (16-8-1) vs New Jersey Devils (11-10-1)

7:00 PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

SPORTSNET PACIFIC, MSG NETWORK, NHL NETWORK

Fresh off a big Pacific Division win Saturday night in Calgary, the Canucks are back at it, after a luxurious two day break. A win tonight is vital, in that it will move them to within two points of first place Vegas, and also ensure that the LA Kings stay at least two points behind them.

After struggling through November compared to their torrid start to the season, the Canucks kicked December off on the right foot Saturday night with a 4-3 win over the Flames in Calgary. They're beginning a stretch of five straight at home, beginning with a team that they've been finding hard to handle of late: the New Jersey Devils.

It's the first time that Quinn Hughes will face off against both of his siblings in an NHL game, and while the Canucks will be focused on securing two points, the eyes of hockey fans across North America are definitely trained on tonight's contest. The Devils have won four of the last five meetings between these teams, including both games last year. And while the Canucks have been one of the true surprises of the NHL this season, the Devils have too, only not in a good way. Many had the Devils pencilled in to be Cup contenders in the East, but they've stumbled out of the gate, and find themselves four points out of a wild card slot in the Eastern Conference. They're 4-6-0 in their last ten games, and are hoping this Western road swing will help them get back on track.

And while the Hughes brothers matchup is getting all the press, there's one other factor to tonight's game that shouldn't be overlooked. Travis Green is set for his first appearance behind the visitors bench since he was fired as the Canucks head coach two years ago today. If that's not some sort of universal karma/schedule guy trying to mess with people, I dunno what is.

LINEUPS

We found this potential lineup spray-painted on the side of a transport trailer parked alongside Highway 1 out in the valley, but I am pretty sure they got it from nhl dot com.

Devils projected lineup

Erik Haula -- Jack Hughes -- Tyler Toffoli

Ondrej Palat -- Nico Hischier -- Jesper Bratt

Timo Meier -- Dawson Mercer -- Alexander Holtz

Curtis Lazar -- Michael McLeod -- Nathan Bastian

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Simon Nemec

Kevin Bahl -- John Marino

Colin Miller -- Luke Hughes

Vitek Vanecek

Akira Schmid

Scratched: Chris Tierney

Injured: Tomas Nosek (foot), Dougie Hamilton (torn pectoral muscle)

Suspended: Brendan Smith

Canucks projected lineup

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Andrei Kuzmenko -- J.T. Miller -- Brock Boeser

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Nils Aman -- Linus Karlsson

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Nikita Zadorov -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Mark Friedman

Injured: Pius Suter (lower body), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

No changes for the Canucks, as PDG continues to ride pine in favour of Linus Karlsson, while Sam Lafferty continues his improbable run on the Canucks first line. With every passing game, that signing looks better for Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin. While it may not sit well with some, Noah Juulsen is in again in favour of Mark Friedman.

The Devils found out recently that they'll be without Dougie Hamilton long term after he suffered a torn pectoral muscle. It'll be Vitek Vanacek vs Thatcher Demko in the crease tonight.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

While the UK may be the birthplace of heavy metal, it always seemed somewhat lacking when it came to contributions to thrash metal. Apart from bands like Xentrix, Onslaught and Hellbastard, UK thrash acts never really seemed to move the needle. That's all changed over the last decade, with the New Wave Of Thrash Metal. Bands like Evile, SSS, Shrapnel and Pest Control have put out some fantastic stuff, and while the first three may be a little more familiar to metal heads, Pest Control is one you don't wanna sleep on.

Born in Leeds during the lockdown, their debut album 'Don't Test The Pest' is holding up as one of the better thrash discs of 2023. Check out their video for 'Enjoy The Show'!

This one should be fun! Enjoy the game, eh? Go Canucks Go!

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

7:00PM PST

SPORTSNET PACIFIC

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.

LINEUPS

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

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

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

Joey Daccord

Chris Driedger

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.

Call it regression. Call it exhaustion. Call it whatever you want, but that loss in Calgary wasn't pretty. Pay close attention to how the Canucks respond, as they get ready to do another stupid 5 games in 8 nights run.

Vancouver Canucks (12-3-1) vs Seattle Kraken (6-8-4)

7:00PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

CBC, SPORTSNET, CITY

We knew a regulation loss was coming, it just sucks that it had to come against the Flames. They're not that good, and combined with the aforementioned 5th game in 8 nights scenario, and some mind-blowingly bad officiating, and this one was done before puck drop.

Thankfully, they're at home, and have had a day's rest, and this next 5 game set sees them play Seattle and San Jose twice, broken up by a highly anticipated match against another of the best in the west when they travel to Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. This is another Western Conference game, and if we're being honest, these are the truly important ones. Ensuring they stay in the top 3 in the Pacific Division and home ice in round one of the playoffs is the goal, and considering how well they've done against Western opponents so far, garnering an impressive 16 of 18 possible points so far. Rattling off four of the next 5 will go a long way to ensuring their post-season drought comes to an end this year.

The anticipated Canucks regression gets a lot of print space right now, but I think more should be said about what's happening just South of Vancouver. After an impressive sophomore season, complete with playoff games and their first ever playoff series win in that seven game series victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Kraken have struggled so far this season, including losing four straight to start the year. They're gonna need to go on a run in order to make up the ground they've lost, as they're two points out of the last wild card slot at the moment, and they've played more games than any other team in the West. It's not looking good, and it shouldn't be a shock if they can't pull this off.

That's not to suggest that the Canucks should take this, or any game lightly, and one of the more impressive things so far this season is how the Canucks have responded to losses. Take the way they responded in Montreal after a frustrating loss in Toronto the night before. Or the win in Florida after dropping a heart breaker to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This team is mentally stronger than in the past, and that's going to pay dividends as the season wears on.

LINEUPS

Scrawled in spraypaint on an overpass along Highway 1 near Chilliwack was this potential lineup. Or was it nhl dot com?

Kraken projected lineup

Jared McCann -- Matthew 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

Philipp Grubauer

Joey Daccord

Scratched: Jaycob Megna, Andrew Poturalski

Injured: Andre Burakovsky (upper body)

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

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

Dakota Joshua -- Teddy Blueger -- Conor Garland

Nils Hoglander -- Sam Lafferty -- Anthony Beauvillier

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Noah Juulsen

Akito Hirose -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman

Injured: Pius Suter (undisclosed), Carson Soucy (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

The good news is that Andrei Kuzmenko will return to the lineup tonight. The not so good news? Noah Juulsen still can't seem to play his way to the pressbox. Akito Hirose will draw in with Tyler Myers tonight.

This should be a winnable game for the Canucks, who are going to need to see more 5 on 5 production to bolster a lethal power play. They're also going to need to be better on the PK. They've improved a lot since last season, but it's still not where it needs to be.

GAME DAY CHATTER

This is the Gary Bettman expansion dilemma. It's either a bare minimum against divisional rivals, or not getting to see some of the Eastern teams at all. Personally, I think the NHL has done sweet fuck all to try and build a Vancouver/Seattle rivalry, and I would rather see them play each other four times than against the bloody Oilers or Flames. It's insane that they play those two as well as the Sharks four times, yet their geographically closest opponent will only appear here once this season.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Emerging from the ashes of Texas thrash kings POWER TRIP after the tragic death of their vocalist Riley Gale, FUGITIVE have come to continue along the path forged by the Dallas crossover bangers. This single is available as a 7" from 20 Buck Spin Records, and we should expect a full length from them next year. This is one of those tunes that really, truly makes me miss the moshpits from back in the day.

Enjoy the game, everyone. Go Canucks Go!

Last night, the Canucks delivered a performance the likes of which we haven't seen in at least a decade. An absolutely dominant sixty minute game that showcased the approach that Rick Tocchet wants to see from a nightly basis from his charges, and if this is what we can expect from the Canucks this season, I'm all in, baby!

CANUCKS (5-2-0) vs RANGERS (5-2-0)

7:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET One, CBC, City Tv

It's been a frustrating dozen years since Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011. From the loss, to the franchise's steadfast refusal to rebuild despite all indications showing it was direly needed, we've had to suffer through over a decade of bad signings, bad trades, bad coaches and bad efforts. It's taking a while, and it's a little early to declare the dark days are over, but good lord, watching the way the Canucks played last night made me want to run through a brick wall.

To a man, they came out and absolutely dominated a St Louis Blues team that looked quite good against Calgary the night before, and didn't give them a sniff. When St Louis did get chances, they were mostly low risk, and rebounds were cleared efficiently. They played their asses off defensively for their goaltender last night, and that might have been the most inspirational part of all. And let's get this right out of the way, for all his flaws, Tyler Myers had a beast of a game last night, playing 17 minutes of smart, defensively sound hockey, and added a beautiful setup on the Phil DiGiuseppe goal to make it 3-0 in the 2nd period. It rings true to what many have felt about the much maligned Myers: with the right usage and controlled minutes, he could still be a valuable part of this team. He's bought in to that, and it's glorious to see.

And how about the pairing of Mark Friedman and Ian Cole?

This is where you can start to believe that maybe this team has turned the corner. The moves over the past twelve months that Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin have made are having immediate impacts on the ice, and this team is not the Canucks team of the past few years, let alone last year. With the way the Oilers, Flames and Kraken have started the year, if the Canucks can stay healthy and continue to take this approach to each game, we should expect to see them in the postseason come April.

Alas, there's no rest for the wicked, and they're right back at it tonight against a very good New York Rangers team that are also currently riding a 3 game win streak, fresh off a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday evening. The Rangers and Canucks are pretty evenly matched, built the same and play a similar style, so it'll be an interesting contest, seeing if Vancouver can come up with another big effort in their first back to back of the season.

LINEUPS

This potential lineup for tonight's contest was scrawled on the back of a setlist from a house party that DJ Del Zotto played. May have also been nhl dot com, I suppose.

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Kaapo Kakko

Artemi Panarin -- Filip Chytil -- Alexis Lafreniere

Will Cuylle -- Vincent Trochek -- Blake Wheeler

Barclay Goodrow -- Nick Bonino -- Jimmy Vesey

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

K'Andre Miller -- Jacob Trouba

Erik Gustafsson -- Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin

Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Zac Jones, Tyler Pitlick

Injured: None

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

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

Dakota Joshua -- Pius Suter -- Conor Garland

Anthony Beauvillier -- Sam Lafferty -- Nils Hoglander

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Mark Friedman

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Casey DeSmith

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Jack Studnicka

Injured: Teddy Blueger (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Doesn't appear to be any changes for the Canucks tonight apart from the scheduled start for DeSmith, while the Rangers, much like the Blues last night will play their number one keeper as Shesterkin gets the crease for New York.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Storming out of Wilkes-Barre, PA, CRUEL BOMB are a three piece thrash band paying tribute to NYC's finest ANTHRAX and their classic 'Caught In A Mosh'. It's the second single they've released this year after a 5 song EP in 2022 called 'Man Made', so hopefully we can expect a full length from them soon. Crank this one and mosh it up!

Enjoy the game, folks. Go Canucks Go!

After a fairly successful road swing out east, the Canucks return home for their first back to back of the season. They're mostly intact and even more surprisingly, adapting and addressing issues on the ice.

CANUCKS (4-2-0) vs BLUES (3-2-1)

7:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET One

It was looking kinda grim, and kinda familiar. A poor effort in Philadelphia, followed by a better, but nowhere good enough one in Tampa and the Canucks found themselves crashing back to earth, sitting at .500 to start the season, and looking very much like the Canucks teams we've been subjected to for the last decade. But when they got to South Florida, something changed. Little tweaks, like moving Tyler Myers to third pairing defensive minutes, and a renewed approach to the 'defence by committee' mindset Rick Tocchet and his coaching staff have been preaching paid huge dividends, as they came up with a big win in Sunrise against the Panthers, and followed it up with a dominant performance in Nashville.

Both games saw the Canucks be the better team in the 2nd period, something that his been this franchise's kryptonite for a long time now, and the Panthers game showed us something we didn't see last season: when faced with coughing up a lead, they didn't buckle under the pressure, and instead got a huge goal from Andrei Kuzmenko, and an empty netter from Brock Boeser to seal the deal.

In Nashville, it was the supporting cast getting it done, with goals from Ilya Mikhayev, Phil DiGiuseppe, and Nils Hoglander scoring for the Canucks. They hung on to get the win, but were the far better team on the ice that night. The attention to detail, and getting commitments from guys like JT Miller and Elias Pettersson to lead defensively has become a rallying cry on this team, and when you add in the chemistry that's developed between Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek, the Canucks may genuinely be... good. I say this cautiously, but they're definitely making life easier on Thatcher Demko and Casey DeSmith, and that's going to be a massive factor in a potential return to the postseason, especially with the way the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames have stumbled out of the gate.

Tonight they take on the latest team to embarrass the Flames, the St Louis Blues. Fresh off a 3-0 shutout at the Saddledome last night, the Canucks will hope they can catch their opponents tired, and win their third straight before hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Blues haven't exactly been a powerhouse so far, losing two shootouts already this season as well as a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes. They have won two of their last three though, and always seem to play the Canucks hard.

LINEUPS

The following projected lineup was seen plastered on a bus stop on Hastings St next to a flyer looking for people interested in losing weight in an experimental treatment doctors don't want you to know about. Or, it might have also been on nhl dot com.

Blues projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Robert Thomas -- Jordan Kyrou

Pavel Buchnevich -- Brayden Schenn -- Kasperi Kapanen

Alexey Toropchenko -- Kevin Hayes -- Jake Neighbours

Oskar Sundqvist -- Sammy Blais

Nick Leddy -- Colton Parayko

Torey Krug -- Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella -- Robert Bortuzzo

Scott Perunovich

Jordan Binnington

Joel Hofer

Scratched: Jakub Vrana, Tyler Tucker, Nikita Alexandrov

Injured: None

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

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

Dakota Joshua -- Pius Suter -- Conor Garland

Anthony Beauvillier -- Sam Lafferty -- Nils Hoglander

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Mark Friedman

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Jack Studnicka

Injured: Teddy Blueger (foot), Guillaume Brisebois (concussion)

Looks like if something's not broken, just leave it when it comes to the Canucks. Blueger isn't ready to return just yet, but they'll deal with that bridge when they get to it. Thatcher Demko will get the crease tonight, while DeSmith will get the Rangers tomorrow. It's refreshing to not have to be worried about Demko's workload right now, and the DeSmith trade is looking better all the time. They'll be facing the perpetually aggrieved diaper baby Jordan Binnington tonight, and hopefully they'll light the goal lamp redder than his constantly pissed off face tonight.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Greek thrashers BIO-CANCER are back with a new album, and this one's an absolute beast. They continue to get better with each release, and are ready to make that step to be considered among some of the upper echelon Euro thrash acts now. Check out the video for 'Citizen...Down!' from Revengeance available now on Hammerheart Records. I picked this one up on vinyl the other day and it's glorious!

Enjoy the game tonight, and we'll have full postgame coverage as well as a look at tomorrow night's tilt against the Rangers. Go Canucks Go!

As if this week can't get any worse, the Canucks, still at risk of catching leprosy in the hellhole state of Florida are now teed up for another potential embarrassment: the OEL Revenge Game.

CANUCKS (2-2-0) at PANTHERS (2-2-0)

4:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET Pacific

It all started so good, didn't it?

That 8-1 win, followed by the 4-3 win over the Oilers back to back to start the season, and it felt, even with a few hiccups in that second game, that things might be different this season. And yeah, we should know better, so shame on us. Since then, it's been deja-vu all over again, as we've been treated to two straight losses in oh-so familiar ways.

Despite Thatcher Demko starting the season with a vengeance, and the outstanding defensive work of Quinn Hughes, the jaw dropping emergence of JT Miller as the Canucks best two way player thus far, and Brock Boeser on a heater to start the year, they're still getting worked by shitty teams, and when they show up against better teams, unable to overcome errors that always end up in their net.

They had a sniff at a win in Tampa, but the same piss-poor defensive play that has plagued this team for years was once again the reason they lost. And the ringleader? Tyler Myers. How bad was he on Thursday night? He was 'I don't even wanna talk about him scoring a goal because it doesn't matter' bad. Glaring, head shaking mistakes that led to goals, and as the cherry on top, taking out Elias Pettersson with a slapshot late in the third to just compound the Canucks' problems.

So they head south for a game against the Florida Panthers, who have their own struggles so far after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in June. One guy who hasn't struggled for them so far? Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Yeah, that OEL. And while the Canucks struggle with the reality of having to give Tyler Myers icetime, the Panthers appear to be just what Ekman-Larsson needed to rejuvenate the tail-end of his career.

And unlike the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Panthers have won two straight, but that doesn't mean they're gonna be any less of a challenge today. So what do the Canucks have to do in order to bump this slump and move back into the win column?

First, they need to come out and play pissed off. And they should be. Despite a better performance, this team has not been good to start this season, and quite literally wasted a couple fantastic performances from Demko, they'd love nothing more than to give him an easy night.

Secondly, and probably the most important factor in securing a win tonight, the Canucks absolutely cannot play another second period like the ones they've put forth so far this season. It's become their trademark over the past few seasons: just completely and utterly disappearing in the middle frame of games, regardless of being in the lead or not. So many losses because they simply couldn't be arsed to give a 60 minute effort. It's frustrating as hell to watch and has to change if they don't want to fall out of the race before Christmas. Yes, it's that dire.

And finally, they need to stay out of the penalty box. While the penalty kill does appear to be better after last season's historically bad performance, it's still not where it needs to be. So that means being smart about antagonizing their opponents, and especially tonight, not getting suckered into retaliation penalties against Matthew Tkachuk. The Canucks are definitely moving towards a team that's not fun to play against, but even teams with a power play as weak as Florida will take their chances against a 72% penalty kill.

LINEUPS

This potential list was found scrawled on the belly of a gator that wandered into a Miami Beach Hardee's, though it may have also been from nhl dot com.

Canucks projected lineup

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

Ilya Mikheyev -- Elias Pettersson -- Andrei Kuzmenko

Dakota Joshua -- Pius Suter -- Sam Lafferty

Anthony Beauvillier -- Jack Studnicka -- Conor Garland

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Ian Cole -- Tyler Myers

Carson Soucy -- Mark Friedman

Casey DeSmith

Thatcher Demko

Scratched: Noah Juulsen, Nils Hoglander

Injured: Teddy Blueger (lower body), Guillaume Brisebois (undisclosed)

Panthers projected lineup

Evan Rodrigues -- Aleksander Barkov -- Sam Reinhart

Carter Verhaeghe -- Eetu Loustarinen -- Matthew Tkachuk

Nick Cousins -- Anton Lundell -- Justin Sourdif

Ryan Lomberg -- Kevin Stenlund -- Steven Lorentz

Gustav Forsling -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Niko Mikkola -- Dmitry Kulikov

Josh Mahura -- Uvis Balinskis

Sergei Bobrovsky

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: William Lockwood, Mike Reilly

Injured: Johan Gadjovich (upper body), Sam Bennett (lower body), Brandon Montour (shoulder), Aaron Ekblad (shoulder)

So, if this lineup holds, it'll be the return of Ilya Mikhayev to the Canucks lineup, and that is definitely something that will make them better. Mikhayev's speed and skill could also be the catalyst that gets Andrei Kuzmenko going. It's unfortunate that it means Nils Hoglander has to come out, but it should put the other bottom six wingers on notice that they'll replace him in the press box if they don't perform.

It's a scheduled start for Casey DeSmith, who was outstanding in his first start, withstanding an Oilers barrage in that 4-3 win over the Oilers to start this road trip. This is a winnable game for the Canucks, if... everything goes right. The Panthers are without Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour, as well as former Canuck Jonah Gadjovich. Another former Canuck, Will Lockwood, appears to be a healthy scratch tonight. The Panthers aren't a pushover, but are missing some of their best players, and if the Canucks can get a couple past Bobrovsky early and play a disciplined road game, they should be able to head to Nashville on a winning note ahead of Tuesday's contest.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

Ex-SEPULTURA mainmen Max and Igor Cavalera have been on an absolute tear over the past couple years, and fresh off their reworking of SEPULTURA's first two albums, they've unleashed a new one from their other other project: Go Ahead And Die. The beauty of this? It doesn't sound like SEPULTURA, SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY or NAILBOMB, yet it's unmistakably got the Cavalera DNA all over it. Gonna have to dig deeper on this one, as this track is an absolute beast!

Enjoy the game, and we'll do this again on Tuesday evening as they wrap up the roadtrip in Music City against the Predators. Go Canucks Go!

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