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

For the first time since 2015, there's playoff hockey at Rogers Arena. Towel Power is back, as the Canucks open their first round series against the Nashville Predators.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS VS NASHVILLE PREDATORS

7PM PST

ROGERS ARENA, VANCOUVER, BC

TV: CBC, SPORTSNET, SPORTSNET 360, ESPN

I'm not saying it's been a long time since there was a home playoff game in Vancouver, but the last time fans bought playoff tickets we probably didn't imagine how bad the next 8 years would be, and apart from a loophole playoff appearance in 2020's bubble Cup, that we'd be missing out for that whole stretch.

It's been hard to be a Canucks fan, but not much harder than the post-2011 era. We've seen some shit. We endured almost a decade of excruciatingly bad management and coaching. We saw the final years of the Sedin Brothers frittered away, and we saw a team that for a while was Must See TV everytime they played turned into You Can't Make Me Watch This. Matt Bartkowski. Luca Sbisa. Jay Beagle. Michael Del Zotto. Loui Eriksson. Adam Gaudette. Markus Granlund. Erik Gudbranson. Olli Juolevi. Jayson Megna. Derrick Pouliot. Antoine Roussel. Tim Schaller. Jack Skille. Jake Virtanen. Like I said, we've seen some shit.

We went from Wizardous Sedinery to whatever the hell the last few years were. And while Jim Benning managed to acquire some of the core, it was what's happened since he was replaced by Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin. And even then, as they began to retool around this team's stars, it took another coaching change for everything to fall into place for the Canucks.

We'd love to tell you that we saw this coming. And we did get a hint that the dark days were coming to an end when Rick Tocchet took over behind the bench. But there's not a soul alive that had the Canucks not just making the playoffs, but being in the hunt for the Presidents' Trophy until the final days of the season. There's been lots of talk about the Canucks' high PDO, that so much of their success is based on luck. That's pretty insulting when you look at the way Tocchet and his coaching staff transformed this team, getting the entire roster to buy in on playing 200 ft hockey every night, and being accountable for every shift. I mean, he's turned Tyler Myers into a reliable NHL defenceman!

Sure, there's definite room for improvement, and this could all end in a few days, but there's an actual path to the Western Conference Finals here. Get out of the first round and amazing things can happen. Look at the 1982 run, where the Canucks, proud owners of a 77 point season, lost just two games in three rounds, knocking off Calgary, Los Angeles and Chicago before getting steamrolled by that juggernaut New York Islanders squad. It all starts with one win, and then anything can happen.

It's been said that as far as first round opponents go, this is the matchup that the Canucks should want. And there's some truth to that, given how these teams matched up this season. The Canucks swept the season series, outscoring Nashville 13-6. And while that came in the first half of the season, before the Preds went on their ridiculous tear, they've still struggled against contenders at times. At the end of the day, when you match these teams up on offence and goaltending, the Canucks have the edge, and should be able to advance to round two. We all remember the emergence of Thatcher Demko in the bubble playoffs, when he damn near stole the series from Vegas. Demko's been amazing this year, and eager to help lead the Canucks to victory.

What's going to get it done is a continuation of the team's mindset on defence. They've done a massive turnaround in terms of how much harder they are to generate offence against compared to the past few seasons, and do a fantastic job on breakouts when they win battles for loose pucks. They're much more physical than previous versions of the team, and in the past you'd think they'd struggle against a team like Nashville, but this season the Canucks showed physically they can go toe to toe with anyone.

What has to get better is secondary scoring. It was rolling early in the season, but dried up for long stretches. If we can get guys like Ilya Mikheyev, Elias Lindholm, Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty pitching in and taking a bit of the load off Elias Pettersson, JT Miller, Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes. And hey, the trend of getting more scoring from the back end was a pleasant surprise this season, and will definitely help them if they want to advance.

It will be interesting to see how Tocchet handles that top Nashville line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan O'Reilly and Gustav Nyqvist. They could throw the Miller/Boeser/Suter line, or go with Lindholm, Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland.

They'll also need the once terrifying power play to become a threat again. It's fallen off badly, but if they can just simplify things and get back to what was working, it'll be a deterrent the way it was earlier in the year.

LINEUPS

It is my pleasure to let you know that these potential Game One lineups are according to the ol' nhl dot com thingy:

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O'Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Mark Jankowski -- Colton Sissons -- Jason Zucker

Anthony Beauvillier -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Cole Smith -- Michael McCarron -- Kiefer Sherwood

Ryan McDonagh -- Roman Josi

Jeremy Lauzon -- Alexandre Carrier

Spencer Stastney -- Luke Schenn

Juuse Saros

Kevin Lankinen

Scratched: Tyson Barrie, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Cody Glass, Dante Fabbro, Gustavs Grigals

Injured: None

Canucks projected lineup

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

Nils Hoglander -- Elias Pettersson -- Sam Lafferty

Dakota Joshua -- Elias Lindholm -- Conor Garland

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Teddy Blueger -- Ilya Mikheyev

Quinn Hughes -- Filip Hronek

Carson Soucy -- Tyler Myers

Ian Cole -- Nikita Zadorov

Thatcher Demko

Casey DeSmith

Scratched: Mark Friedman, Nils Aman, Noah Juulsen, Vasily Podkolzin, Arturs Silovs

Injured: None

Both teams head into this series 'healthy', and with no shocking lineup moves. It is a little surprising that PDG is in over Podkolzin, but unless he lights it up, expect that to change as the series goes on. Other than that, the lines are pretty much the same as the past few contests for the Canucks.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

We've been waiting so damn long for this, it's time to get loud, friends! Let's crank up some of Ireland's finest and make sure you've got the beverages chilled. Playoff hockey is back, so Shut Up and Shout!

We're stoked to have been able to spend this season actually enjoying Canucks hockey again, as well as playoffs on Rogers Arena ice. Here's to a long run, and bringing 54 years of heartbreak and frustration to a close. Enjoy the game everyone! Go Canucks Go!

After a frustrating OT loss on Saturday where the Canucks were deserving of a much better fate, they'll look to finish a surprisingly strong October with a visit from Nashville.

CANUCKS (5-2-1) vs PREDATORS (4-4-0)

7:00 PM PST

SPORTSNET One

We could go on about the atrocious officiating on Saturday, but there's not really much else one can say. The Rangers got a gift, but the Canucks proved they can hang with one of the best, and that's something we weren't ready to be able to say this season, let alone in the first ten games. And yet, here we are. The Canucks are (with the full caveat that it's still early), very much one of the team that should be in the Western Conference mix this year. It's a surprise, especially given there are still numerous areas where the team can play better.

Sure, it helps they've got one of the best one-two goalie combos to start the season, and their best players have been absolutely lights out. Defensively they've been outstanding and the offensive contributions from the backend are already making a massive difference. There's still room from growth on the defensive end, the penalty kill, while better can still be improved, and they need more out of their bottom six. It's hard to criticize the bottom six too much when they're all playing a solid two way game, and there's rarely been a game with passengers, but this team being a bigger threat to score regardless of which line is on could turn them into a legit contender.

They're going up against a Nashville team tonight that they beat a week ago, withstanding a comeback and putting together a strong, inspirational finish to a road trip that begun to look dire after back to back losses in Philadelphia and Tampa. They are starting the first of four at home before making their annual Eastern Canadian road swing, and with the last two of those four against a very good Dallas Stars team and a third meeting with divisional rivals Edmonton Oilers, they'll want to get as many points as they can before heading into an Eastern Canadian gauntlet that is as tough as it's been in years.

Tonight also marks the first appearance of the skate jersey this season, much to the delight of the fan base. The return of the skate was a big success, and honestly, this team would just be printing money if they ditched the cursed whale forever and went back to the best damn jersey they ever wore.

LINEUPS

This potential lineup was scrawled in blood on my bathroom mirror... oh, wait. Nevermind, it was on nhl dot com:

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan O’Reilly -- Gustav Nyquist

Kiefer Sherwood -- Tommy Novak -- Luke Evangelista

Yakov Trenin -- Colton Sissons -- Liam Foudy

Samuel Fagemo -- Juuso Parssinen -- Cole Smith

Roman Josi -- Dante Fabbro

Ryan McDonagh -- Alexandre Carrier

Jeremy Lauzon -- Tyson Barrie

Kevin Lankinen

Juuse Saros

Scratched: Michael McCarron, Marc Del Gaizo, Philip Tomasino

Injured: Luke Schenn (lower body), Cody Glass (lower body)

Canucks projected lineup

Andrei Kuzmenko -- Elias Pettersson -- Ilya Mikheyev

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

Anthony Beauvillier -- Pius Suter -- Conor Garland

Dakota Joshua -- 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)

Interesting that Nashville is choosing not to go with Juuse Saros tonight, instead giving Kevin Lankonen his first start of the season. I get he needs to play, but this could end badly for them. No real changes for the Canucks tonight, but there's definitely a spotlight on the third and fourth lines. Hoglander's been fantastic, and the play of Lafferty and Suter has been a surprise, but we need to see more from Beauvillier, Garland, and Joshua.

GAME DAY CHATTER

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

With this game falling on Halloween, you know I was feeling a bit of pressure to find a video worthy of the best holiday there is. Thankfully, I was saved. All hail the King, baby. King Diamond dropped a brand new video today, and it is everything we could have hoped for. No surprise, for the King never misses. Crank this one, make sure and give those kids full size bars, and after that, enjoy the game. Go Canucks Go!

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